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What role do you see image recognition, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things playing in the future of rail infrastructure? Is Belgium’s rail infrastructure prepared for these technologies?
In the end, what we want to achieve is very safe, highly available and easily maintainable infrastructure. In relation to this, I see many roles for these technologies: We can use them in every part of our organisation to achieve our goals.
Whether it is by assisting work-train drivers to not pass closed signals or alerting maintenance crews about upcoming failures, these technologies can make a difference. Assistance, digitalisation, work elimination, failure prediction, failure detection, you name it and I’ll give you a working production example at Infrabel. I’m very confident that we are not only prepared for these technologies but leading in these domains.
How is the evolution of technology impacting the management of rail infrastructure?
For a lot of use cases, you don’t actually need state-of-the-art technology. You don’t need very advanced computers, the most compact sensors or wearables. You need competent people with ideas, the right mentality and access to technology to execute. In many ways, it’s not the evolution of technology but the adoption of these technologies by employees that impact the management of rail infrastructure.
There are still many benefits achievable with old technologies. Sometimes it takes a smart developer half a day to develop a shortcut that saves a couple of people hours each month. You need to find these quick wins and exploit them. They’ll then talk to you about other tasks that you could automate. Sometimes you need a fancy Lidar to measure the catenary and sometimes you can write a few lines of code. In the end you’ll manage your infrastructure by listening to and assisting your co-workers in their jobs.
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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