As in many sectors, technological advancements are transforming the way in which rail transportation is managed, built, and monitored. The most recent game-changers are LiDAR, digital twins and geospatial data, which, when used together, have the potential to truly change the industry as it exists today.

The monitoring of an asset is the very first step to harnessing the power of data, however, what makes or breaks a digital system is how the data is analysed post-collection. This sentiment couldn’t be truer in the world of transport and rail, with the monitoring of track and surrounding assets an essential, yet time-consuming job.

In conversations with experts in the rail sector, safety also emerges as a key focus for rail operators. Ensuring the safty of operators, maintenance workers, passengers, and freight is paramount when keeping vital transportation networks running.

Enhancing safety by providing accurate data for maintenance, planning, and operation is an ideal way that rail networks can switch their maintenance from reactive to proactive – this requires an extremely versatile and tailored approach, which data collection software cannot often provide.

Tech Mahindra Altavec, a leading provider of comprehensive rail network LiDAR and imaging solutions, knows that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital transformation journeys, which is why it offers a unique approach to ensure data is not treated like a hidden gem, but the main prize.

An end-to-end rail solution

With a rich 30 year history in the rail industry, Altavec consistently delivers tailored outcomes, solidifying its position as a reliable and innovative partner in the rail sector.

Altavec’s specialty lies in collecting, processing, and delivering field asset data for rail networks, combining state-of-the-art technology and surveying expertise to deliver high-quality results to demanding engineering audiences.

These solutions are unique for a plethora of reasons, such as:

  • Individually customised design and configuration for each project
  • All asset capture equipment in-house, employing multiple high-precision Riegl LiDAR units, Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology
  • Various imagery options such as 360° panoramas, high resolution stills, and video This comprehensive equipment allows for the most accurate and detailed data capture of rail networks, enabling rail operators to make informed data-driven business decisions, with all the critical information at their fingertips.

Innovating the rail sector

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are common buzzwords, with the uses for both extremely varied. For rail, they can be integrated into existing projects to simplify maintenance and monitoring processes, save staffing costs, and reduce employee safety concerns.

For instance, instead of a crew having to search to find anomalies and maintenance issues, AI and ML algorithms can be combined with data collection efforts that utilise state-ofthe-art technology, including Riegl LiDAR units, IMUs, and GNSS.

This approach enables rail managers to identify, measure, and assess track assets with unparalleled accuracy, and facilitates the precise detection of defects, asset management, planning, and design. Another innovation is Altavec’s Mechanised Track Patrols (MTP), which quickly has become a major talking point in the industry, emerging as the epitome of high-quality, auditable data collection and analysis.

Through the integration of high-resolution digital imagery, accurate inertial and GPS data, and the ability to record data at any train speed, MTP enables offsite track inspections, seamless data integration with enterprise systems, and improved network availability.

This approach also involves empowering track walkers to perform inspections off-track using a desktop, boosting safety and preserving expert knowledge and skills. MTP, as supplied by Altavec, offers several key advantages:

  • High-resolution digital imagery
  • Accurate inertial and GPS data with sub-meter kilometrage
  • Recording at any train speed
  • Offline track inspections
  • Integration of data with enterprise systems
  • Increased network availability
  • Enhanced employee retention and availability

Case study: Altavec in action

An example is the successful Measurement and Inspection Digital Twin (MIDT) project embarked upon by Altavec for Sydney Trains, which was an ambitious undertaking aimed at creating a comprehensive and highly accurate digital replica of the entire Sydney Trains network.

This digital twin is far more than a passive mirror image; it’s a dynamic tool that enables detailed inspections, measurements, and effective maintenance planning.

Over the course of five years, Altavec meticulously conducted surveys across the expansive Sydney Trains network. Deploying a formidable arsenal of state-of-the-art technology, including dual VUX-1HA Lidar scanners and 360° panoramic imagery equipment.

The success of the project was not just about advanced technology; it was also about overcoming real-world challenges. Altavec’s team needed to navigate through GNSS-compromised environments such as tunnels and urban canyons.

Once the data capture was complete Altavec’s team of geospatial professionals undertook the colossal task of processing the vast amounts of data. Raw information was meticulously transformed into a usable and accessible digital format.

The comprehensive digital twin, AI and ML, is an innovation that allows the rapid identification of potential issues, ensuring a safer and more efficient railway network. Altavec’s involvement in the MIDT project not only transformed the way rail networks were managed, but also empowered Sydney Trains to operate with heightened efficiency and precision.

In the era of digital transformation, Altavec’s MIDT project with Sydney Trains stands as a landmark achievement in the realm of digital mapping and geospatial solutions for the rail industry.

This project sets a new standard in the railway inspection and management, ensuring our railways are efficient, reliable, and safer than ever before. Altavec continues to redefine what is possible in the world of rail network management and this partnership is a shining example of what is possible when innovation meets expertise.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Altavec. For more information visit www.altavec.com

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