Rail and Mass Transit in 2019
A year of infrastructure and continued digitization
As we begin 2019, many industry figureheads believe this could be the year we see considerable traction in the uptake of new technologies across what is considered one of the most traditional industries when it comes to progression.
As other sectors continue to demonstrate the unmistakable cost, efficiency and customer satisfaction benefits of digitization – particularly in the maintenance arena – rail operators and their respective supply chains are finally taking note.
Here, we explore three themes set to shape the rail and mass transit industry in this new year and why they are of such significant importance to successful and sustainable growth.
Region-specific changes fuel rail growth
There are a number of significant, region-specific changes fuelling global growth for the rail market. In the US, the transportation of goods by road is becoming less efficient compared to long-haul freight options, with many shippers switching to rail instead of road.
Elsewhere, China, the Middle East and Africa all continue to invest heavily in infrastructure changes designed to improve transportation of both passengers and goods for the benefit of economic stability. Rail is considered to be a top area of improvement for these regions.
In the UK, recent research by the Independent Transport Commission has revealed that “major economic and spatial changes” have resulted in a 58% increase in rail commuters, with more UK citizens than ever before working in offices now that much of the country’s manufacturing has been offshored.
Growth in demand for rail, be that a reliance on existing infrastructure or the laying of new track, means a buoyant market for parts and labor, plus a sustained requirement for quality innovation – an area of continued investment for Trelleborg in order to bring to market the very best anti-vibration solutions designed for the comfort and safety of rail users.
The adoption of predictive analytics
Globally, we are heading towards living in a fully connected society and at the center of this evolution is data. Many industries have been harnessing the power of data for years already and the rail sector is catching up. It is now easier and more cost-effective than ever before to gather, store and evaluate data. And more importantly, we are now starting to truly understand what can be achieved by maintaining such a rich asset.
Using data, operators are starting to make accurate, well-informed predictions about safety and inspection processes, rail care, locomotive and rail maintenance cycles, fuel and labor cost management, traffic scheduling and rail network management. Data-driven predictions afford operators the time and vision required to implement cost and time effective strategies which drive forth better service, quality maintenance procedures and, ultimately, growth.
Predictive maintenance and digitization of labor-intensive works
One specific area set to benefit further from the harvesting of rail data is maintenance, with most operators now switching from reactive to predictive maintenance schedules to deliver against the ever-tightening time and cost pressures of a growing industry.
The crux of predictive maintenance is that when used correctly, it can save money and keep disruption to a minimum. This isn’t a new trend though, in fact it’s been ongoing for several years. Recently, the onus has switched from the operators to the manufacturers, as the industry awaits innovations capable of overcoming the evidential prohibitive costs which still limit the widespread uptake of predictive maintenance.
Building on the progress made in 2018, the industry is set for growth this year, fuelled by a global mix of economic and infrastructure changes, plus ongoing lifestyle changes and the continued force of a digital society demanding convenience and digitization.
For more information on Trelleborg’s innovative solutions for rail, click HERE.