The rail industry is digitally transforming. Urban rail transportation has rapidly developed in recent years, and the latest trend among enterprises in this evolving field is building secure and efficient rail transportation Operations and Maintenance (O&M) systems to improve the passenger service experiences they can offer.
Enterprises are applying technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive the information-based, intelligent, smart, and digital transformation of urban rail. The process of smart construction of rail transportation needs a standard data collection and storage management system and a rail transportation data management platform to realize data-sharing between functional systems, which is crucial to improving the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) efficiency as well as the passenger service level.
Smart Urban Rail: Facilitating Digital Transformation
The urban rail industry suffers from three main pain points. One of those pain points is the siloed functional systems of traditional rail lines hindering data integration and interoperability. Devices of different systems are poorly coordinated, the response speed is slow when passenger flow fluctuates and faults occur, and the overall efficiency of metro transportation is unsatisfactory, making it hard to implement collaborative dispatching that is driven by passenger flow.
A second pain point is that passengers can't access up-to-date, comprehensive, and accurate travel information.
Finally, the status detection, diagnosis and decision-making, and maintenance of many metro devices and facilities are still performed manually. Because they lack intelligence and have insufficient in-depth maintenance data mining and analysis capabilities, it's difficult to implement status forecast and warning or optimize the full-lifecycle maintenance policy. The maintenance mode is mainly fault-triggered and plan-based, the linkage between device O&M and asset management is insufficient, and the attributes recorded in the system aren't consistent with the actual attributes of the equipment — making asset management difficult.
To address these problems, the rail industry requires technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and AI, to establish a smart rail O&M system and prioritizing solving problems related to smart urban rail networks in order to facilitate digital transformation of the rail industry and to improve the O&M efficiency and passenger service level.
Data is accumulated throughout the entire lifecycle of devices and is analyzed based on big data and AI-empowered deep-learning technologies. This helps optimize the O&M process, improve the self-diagnosis and self-recovery capabilities of devices, and maximize the device usage efficiency throughout the lifecycle.
Data Platform: Building a Solid Foundation for Intelligence
During the digital transformation of rail transportation, the data platform is the basis for the interoperability of advanced applications, and intelligence determines the amount of room for improvement for security and user-friendly experiences.
The construction of rail transportation involves functional systems such as vehicles, rails, signals, communications, electromechanics, and security protection. With the rapid development of the rail transportation network, the types and quantity of devices are increasing. The fault detection and maintenance assurance of devices that have been running for a long time lead to higher requirements on maintenance personnel.
Intelligent technologies can reduce manual maintenance costs and improve the accuracy and efficiency of device maintenance. Each functional system collects device data mostly by adding sensors. Data accumulation, data analysis, and device modeling are long-term tasks, and a smart urban rail system integrating multiple functional systems can serve as an important enabler for building data analysis models.
Devices use data collection tools to monitor device health status. The data analysis models of the devices need to be integrated into a unified data platform, to perform comprehensive analysis based on common basic data and tools, and provide association analysis results for functional application scenarios. This way, a new unified rail transportation data platform can be established — creating a solid data foundation for maximizing the value of data.
Based on the Urban Rail Cloud, Huawei has developed the Horizon Digital Platform for Urban Rail, which targets industry scenarios, coordinates various new technologies, and streamlines data. With the unique cross-cloud and consistent cross-platform experience and multi-technology convergence, the platform supports the quick development and flexible deployment of upper-layer applications, and streamlines bottom-layer connections, achieving synergy among the cloud, pipe, and device layers.
Huawei Horizon is a critical part of the urban rail digital base, and it enables data aggregation and data intelligence to implement digital transformation. Both enterprise customers and ecosystem partners can use the platform to lower the threshold for using new technologies. Through quick system integration, they can also achieve collaboration and sharing of data and resources and improve the quality and efficiency of services and operations.
To facilitate its digital transformation and improve the O&M efficiency as well as the level of services available to passengers, BYD Signal & Communication Company Limited (BYD Signal & Communication) has established a smart rail O&M system — with 'smart urban rail' as the core — based on Huawei's Horizon Digital Platform for Urban Rail.
BYD Signal & Communication is a wholly- owned subsidiary of BYD. It's committed to providing fully automated smart operation solutions for rail transportation. By integrating core technologies, such as dispatching, network, and control, BYD Signal & Communication provides digital intelligent solutions, engineering implementation, and operation and maintenance services — to guarantee secure, intelligent, and efficient products and ensure comfortable experiences for passengers.
BYD Signal & Communication and Huawei have completed a solution for smart station and intelligent O&M, passed the interoperability test, and released the solutions online — another achievement since Huawei and BYD signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement to explore the rail transportation domain.
In this solution, Huawei Horizon helps break the siloed IT architecture, implement efficient cross-department data sharing, capitalize on the value of vast amounts of data, and support quick development and flexible deployment of upper-layer applications to enable agile innovation of various services. With the help of Huawei Horizon, BYD Signal & Communication can quickly deploy upper-layer intelligent applications. Based on BYD's smart station and intelligent O&M system data processing technologies, such applications can be used by sub-systems connected to Huawei Horizon in real time. As well as efficiently resolving enterprise customers' pain points and meeting their needs, this solution reduces customers' time, labor, communication, production, error, and maintenance costs.
Smart Station Application Practice
While rail lines can meet the needs for common services — such as O&M, passenger services, and ticketing and charging — issues still abound: Sub-systems operate independently, causing low O&M efficiency; massive fragmented data generated by systems can't provide efficient data support for O&M decision-making; traditional ticketing and charging services fail to satisfy passengers' smart travel service needs; and device maintenance and emergency linkage still rely on manual operations.
With the continuous upgrade and reconstruction of urban lines and the design and planning of new lines and networks, stricter requirements are imposed on O&M and design and planning. O&M organizations put greater demands for upgrading and reconstructing the integrated intelligent system; design and construction organizations also provide overall intelligent system solutions during line design and planning. Participants in the transportation industry — such as passengers, telecom carriers, and bus operators — also raise requirements for service convergence. In this context, the construction of smart stations is imperative.
From the aspects of passenger, operation, and construction, the smart station solution aims to implement user-friendly services and intelligent operations. The solution enables comprehensive information display, automatic operation, and emergency handling to build an efficient smart operation and management system that can help quickly handle emergencies, build an efficient smart O&M mode, and improve passenger experience.
User-friendly service: As well as meeting the basic operation requirements of railway stations, the highly intelligent Passenger Information System (PIS), broadcasting system, and intelligent recognition and ticketing system also introduce functions such as new retail, sharing service, smart logistics, and lost and found, and apply technologies such as solar energy and big data to make services more user-friendly.
Quick and imperceptible station access services: Include efficient and accurate security check and imperceptible ticket check-through; reduce the queuing time; and improve travel efficiency.
Real-time and efficient customer services: Include quick-response online services and flexible offline services; expand the channels for customers to seek for help.
Customized and accurate information services: Include linkage release of information on multiple platforms, dynamic signs, and sign-based active guidance; realize customized information interaction and enrich the information content.
Diversified travel experience: Offer vehicle reservation, station business, logistics, entertainment, and other value-added services.
Intelligent operations: All devices at stations are designed and produced in compliance with unattended requirements. Passengers can enjoy intelligent recognition-based access as well as self-help goods purchase and shared services, while line operators can significantly reduce labor costs with the help of highly intelligent devices. Meanwhile, the fault diagnosis sub-system can efficiently detect device faults and automatically report the faults to related personnel for rectification, ensuring the normal and secure running of devices.
Real-time holographic perception of the running status: Cover the passenger flow, train, facilities, and environment.
Remote intelligent management and control: Include device control, passenger flow control, dispatching and transmission, and emergency command. Solve the problems of low efficiency, high intensity, and high cost of manual management and control.
Passenger flow-centered operation organization: Break down data barriers between systems; achieve the adjustment and matching of the traffic capacity and volume of the road network driven by the passenger flow; and resolve the problems of poor data interconnection, difficult management and control, and complex command interaction caused by scattered systems.
Active identification of security risks: Solve the problem of passive response to abnormal cases, and difficulties in risk prediction as well as active checking and elimination of risks.
Intelligent O&M Application Practice
The intelligent O&M system is the core system of rail line operators and is also a necessary information-based means to ensure the availability, security, and cost-effectiveness of vehicles and devices. BYD's intelligent O&M system manages the entire lifecycle of rail line assets, and tracks device repair and maintenance work orders. It also conducts self-checks for system functions, reports function status, and combines with manual inspection to achieve the purpose of point inspection. What's more, it establishes a construction management module to control the repair process and approval.
The system is based on asset management and focuses on device maintenance. It integrates functions such as device operation monitoring, asset lifecycle management, device maintenance, device inspection, on-site construction scheduling management, and station management. This way, the system provides a device management information platform for O&M through information linkage and in-depth integration — helping reduce manual operations, improving management efficiency and reliability, and making full use of resources.
Online sensing: Use new technologies such as sensing, IoT, and edge computing to collect device and facility health data in real time to improve the intelligence and efficiency of sensing.
Condition-triggered repair: Deeply explore sensing data; analyze the deterioration mechanism and evolution rules of facilities and devices; and optimize the repair policy for the entire lifecycle — implementing the transformation for diagnosis and decision-making from experience-based to data-based.
Intelligent operation: Replace the on-site manual operation mode with the intelligent unattended maintenance equipment and remote maintenance mode. In addition, evaluate the operation quality in the later phase to implement intelligent condition-triggered repair.
Asset association: Unify the granularity of facility and device management as well as asset management to streamline O&M data and asset status data, ensure the consistency between asset value attributes and physical attributes, and support the full-lifecycle management of assets.
Based on the Software as a Service (SaaS) layer, the intelligent O&M platform is scalable, comprehensive, and modernized. It consists of intelligent devices and cloud components, including edge computing, IoT, cloud platform, and service applications. These devices and components collect data from intelligent front-end devices, transmit data through various network standards, and use technical means — such as AI, big data, and IoT — to integrate, manage, and associate service systems. This way, the platform can provide secure, efficient, and smart O&M and service management.
BYD and Huawei started cooperating more than 20 years ago. As the two companies have grown, they've collaborated on projects spanning electronic products, intelligent and connected vehicles, smart driving, smart transportation, and smart campus.
In January 2018, BYD and Huawei launched a driving system — the world's first single-track autonomous driving system with 100% proprietary intellectual property rights. The two parties have since cooperated further, proposing joint solutions for smart station and intelligent O&M, applying and verify the solutions in digital platforms, and facilitating the cooperation based on joint interoperability solutions to lay a solid technical and application foundation for smart rail construction.
In the future construction and development of smart urban rail, the two companies will work together to develop more smart solutions, to provide better technical support to improve the urban rail operation efficiency and passenger service level. BYD Signal & Communication is committed to becoming a driver and leader in digital rail transportation and to working with Huawei to create a better future.
BYD Signal & Communication is committed to becoming a driver and leader in digital rail transportation and will work with Huawei to create a better future and embrace the intelligent upgrade of rail transportation.
— Chen Guofang, President of the Information Engineering Research Institute, BYD Signal & Communication Company Limited