Consolidating Data Silos for Track Maintenance

Bild: Bentleys OpenRail

Learn how you can maximize your existing investments in track maintenance by consolidating data silos and see how Bentley's OpenRail solutions help advance transportation organizations by Going Digital.

The Big Data Challenge

While rail and transit organizations are great at collecting various forms of data, they typically struggle to effectively analyze it in order to inform decision making. With the ongoing digital transformation of the rail industry, the increasing volume and speed at which data can be collected, and therefore needs to be consumed, is becoming a significant problem for track maintenance teams. Compounding this is the likelihood that data is coming from multiple hardware suppliers, each providing their own independent software solution for its analysis, resulting in the creation of data silos across the organization. What is needed is a solution that is hardware-neutral. A system that provides the ability to consolidate and manage all third-party data, thereby providing easy access to data it can trust as the basis of all types of analysis, including for example linear analytics related to track maintenance.

The Data Silo Obstacles for Rail and Transit

With data coming from multiple sources and in many formats, the variety of this information often exceeds the understanding of a single person. Different teams will likely use a range of isolated datasets to perform specific activities across a network, and different team members will typically use and understand the different types of data in a number of ways, so the system should allow for the seamless sharing of datasets between the business units involved. In a world where so-called ‘Big Data’ is increasingly the basis for critical decisions within an organization, any solution they deploy needs to address four substantial obstacles of these ‘Linear Data’ silos.

  1. Datasets from Different Sources: The track maintenance reliability team will receive data from track recording cars, either autonomous or human-operated vehicles. Data can also come from walking inspectors, identifying defects. Datasets could also be images from ground-penetrating radar (GPR) scans, or video and Point Cloud surveys, or work records.
  2. Storing Datasets: Isolated systems could be the most significant obstacle for a rail and transit organization. Typically, the industry works in a siloed environment, and a change in methodology and culture is often required. Often datasets are segregated by product, or region, or business unit, or another grouping an organization considers valuable.
  3. No Accessibility: Beyond datasets being isolated from each other, in many cases, rail and transit organizations have no unified visibility across the isolated systems. Maintenance decisions are made based on several data streams from a number of silos, and in most cases, decisions are made without realizing data that could provide insight is available.
  4. Data is an Asset: Data must be treated as an asset itself and maintenance across several systems brings additional obstacles. It may not be understandable across data silos, or the information may be duplicated and/or inconsistent.




Consolidate from Multiple Sources

The best decisions can only be made by generating a complete view of the situation. For example, a rail maintenance engineer analyzing an asset must see the current performance, as well as the historical and future trends, while at the same time understanding nearby and related assets, plus the maintenance activities applied to the entire surrounding area. Additionally, the data must be represented in a form that allows complex conditions to be easily understood. Data visualization is critical in transforming vast quantities of complex-linear data into actionable information that users can readily access, understand, and utilize.

Consolidation of datasets is the core concept of OpenRail Digital Twin Services; the solution doesn’t care who supplied the hardware, nor does it care what the data represents. The solution allows an organization to not only visualize all the data about the linear assets regardless of source, and at the same time; the system can also configure the way it is visualized, enabling the targeting of tasks against roles in an organization. This visualization configuration ensures that the right team members are able to see any and all information relating to their decision-making process.