Over the past four years, Georgia Tech has partnered on more than 20 projects in manufacturing, healthcare and energy with manufacturing giant Siemens. They cemented their partnership earlier this year with the opening of Siemens innovation center (the 16th such center at Techsquare) in the heart of the campus.
At the center, a Digital Rail Service team is exploring how to use Internet of Things technology to utilize billions of rail system data points and help rail operators improve operations and optimize infrastructure. Specifically for the City of Atlanta, Siemens will partner with the Atlanta Streetcar, helping with delays, energy costs, pedestrian traffic, and identifying best routes.
The team is also running a pilot program for the light rail system in Charlotte, NC to give near real-time diagnostics and predictive recommendations.
Simon Davidoff, head of Digital Rail Services, sat down with Hypepotamus to expand further on how the Georgia Tech-based innovation center came about and how they hope to get the Atlanta Streetcar running at maximum efficiency.
Siemens has had a long relationship with Georgia Tech. How did the innovation center come about and why did you choose Tech as the location?
Georgia Tech is a part of Siemens’ University 360 program which involves collaboration with the country’s top universities known for academic and research and development excellence, both through academic and talent perspective. Georgia Tech and Technology Square are truly the heart of Atlanta’s innovation scene- it’s where you go to find breakthrough talent, ideas, and companies. Technology Square has the highest density of startups, innovation centers, academics and students in the city, and this was one of the major appeals of the location.
One of the draws of collaboration with Georgia Tech was an opportunity to accelerate the innovation process and to be able to do quick experiments and prototypes. Through this university partnership we will also be able to draw from and collaborate with partners from city/state/local chamber of commerce, and overall technology community.
You’ll be working with the City of Atlanta on the Atlanta Streetcar. What are your goals for the project and what problems are you trying to solve?
In Atlanta, the Siemens Digital Rail Services team will collect information captured via on-board systems on the Siemens-built streetcar and analyze data points to make the best use of their fleet including:
- slow vehicle movements to identify traffic bottlenecks in order to reduce delays
- identifying track segments and time periods with high energy consumption to reduce power usage
- horn usage from car or pedestrian traffic warnings to determine possible car or pedestrian infrastructure improvements that would increase safety
The main goal of the project is to improve operational efficiency, enable improved business planning and performance.
You’ll be using your IoT platform to monitor and predict rail operations. Can you tell me more about the platform?
The Digital Services offered for the rail industry are based on Railigent™, a cloud-based industrial data analytics platform connected to Mindsphere, Siemens IoT operating system. The platform features Smart Monitoring for real-time insight on vehicle state and location, Smart Data Analytics that provide root cause analysis and remote vehicle and infrastructure diagnostics, and Smart Prediction that conducts prescriptive maintenance. Additional capabilities will include advanced cyber security and guidance services.
As part of this platform, we have a portfolio of three services called Smart Monitoring (automated data transmission & visualization, real time insight on vehicle state and location); Smart Analytics (root cause analysis and remote diagnostics for vehicles and infrastructure); and Smart Prediction (prescriptive maintenance via monitoring of main components).
How does Siemens technology compete with other similar technologies out there? What makes it stand out?
Our technology combines Siemens global digital analytics know-how with its extensive rail industry knowledge via an existing rail footprint that spans manufacturing, automation technologies, power infrastructure equipment and service. Through the portfolio of digital services, we bring industry context to the generated insights.
Railigent™ is connected to MindSphere, a global IoT operating system, that deploys our services via a secure cloud infrastructure. This ensures maximum security and scalability at the lowest cost. We ensure maximum vehicle and asset reliability, sharing the risks with our customers. Risk sharing also reflects in our business model, with both parties benefiting from our proven outcomes, algorithms and models
Why do you think it’s important to nurture talent coming out of Georgia Tech and other local universities?
We find it extremely important to leverage university partnerships because they offer a deep breadth of possibility including research collaboration, innovation and tech transfer, thought leadership opportunities, and talent development for both existing and potential future employees with subsequent talent recruitment from existing programs in data analytics, innovation management, design thinking, etc.