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SNCF enlists IBM Watson IoT technology

Insights will allow SNCF to manage its equipment and thus improve quality, security and availability of its trains


Trains on Paris' mass transit lines are among those which will be equipped with sensors
Trains on Paris' mass transit lines are among those which will be equipped with sensors

SNCF is developing specialised industrial sensors to be installed on tracks and trains

Sensors will send tens of thousands of data points to IBM Watson IoT platform in real-time

French Railways operator SNCF is using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) to bring improvements to operational efficiency and rail safety for 13.5 million daily passengers.


SNCF manages the scheduling, operations and maintenance of a network covering 30,000km of track, 15,000 trains and 3,000 stations in France. Each of these elements are being equipped or will be equipped with thousands of sensors. These insights will allow the rail operator to manage its equipment and thus improve quality, security and availability of its trains.


“SNCF’s involvement with the IoT rests on three core principles,” said Raphaël Viard, CTO e.SNCF. “It must have a strong operational focus by digitalising the business lines processes and cover the following three pillars: cybersecurity by design; platform as a service deployment model; [and] the leveraging of Big Data for decision support.


“This is why Watson’s platform, a single and scalable platform, is key to industrialising SNCF’s IoT strategy.”


To collect and analyse this data, SNCF is developing specialised industrial sensors which are being installed on tracks and trains. These sensors will securely send tens of thousands of data points to the IBM Watson IoT platform on IBM Cloud all in real-time.


On the mass transit Parisian lines, for instance, new generation trains are equipped with 2,000 sensors, which forward 70,000 data points per month. Now rather than having to bring in each train and manually examine them, engineers can remotely monitor up to 200 trains at a time for potential issues including door failures or air conditioning, all while they are in transit, SNCF said.


By predicting when maintenance is needed, it can prevent trains from being taken out of service, while avoiding more costly repairs.


In addition, with this real-time insight, maintenance teams will constantly be updated on the state of the rail infrastructure and when needed, can provide early warning to expert teams in charge, when there is risk of something going wrong.


“This collaboration is a true example of how IoT is touching everyone’s lives, in many cases without people even knowing it,” added Harriet Green, general manager IBM Watson IoT. “In this instance, consumers benefit by experiencing minimal downtime and on time service, all made possible by Watson IoT, data from thousands of sensors and the brilliant engineers and innovators at SNCF.”



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