Post by Babette Müller-Reichenwallner, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at Railnova November 28, 2022
Railnova is all about making connections, and the Railnova Tech Day 2022 was no exception! It was an opportunity for our experts to connect with our clients, but it was also an ideal moment for clients to network with each other.
The day began with coffee and nice conversation before turning to more serious matters. Our CEO, Christian Sprauer, welcomed everyone and set the tone for the day. Ambitious presentations, interesting questions, and rich discussion were ahead.
The Railnova Tech Day comprised five big sections. These were data acquisition, building use cases, digitalization and change management, integration, and ECM challenges.
Data acquisition, or the power of connection in rail
Charles-Henri Mousset, leader of the Hardware team at Railnova, opened this first thematic block. He went into detail on Railnova’s patented remote monitoring and edge computing device. The Railster can connect to any locomotive and its components, independently of manufacturer and type, to extract data from it.
Railster Project team lead Maxime Marlier then talked about reverse engineering and how to collect data without train specifications. These are hurdles every digitising process will face sooner or later. Being able to deduce the best way to connect a locomotive and unlocking the secrets within is a true talent we are lucky to have in-house and at our client’s service!
Karin vander Have, Railnova’s Professional Services lead, introduced us to a new co-creating framework, the embedded Lua development environment. She expounded on why this environment is used by Railnova. She explained how Lua script’s flexibility allows for real collaboration between our teams and our clients, creating value together.
All the attendees seem to agree. Despite varied needs, connecting trains and digitising processes are the future for a greener, more reliable, efficient and sustainable railway.
SBB Cargo’s Benjamin Wecker illustrated the complexity of digitising a big and diverse fleet. SBB Cargo is the biggest freight company in Switzerland. Their fleet has an assortment of different locomotives. Being able to connect a varied fleet with the same hardware, regardless of the type or year of making, is a big advantage. That’s when the Railster, with its Universal Interface Port (UIP), became interesting to them.
The next step? A central platform for the extracted data, to which data from other sources can also be added. These sources range from third-party devices, laboratory results, energy or even weather data. Having all the information from these diverse sources centralised on one platform, like Railnova, makes everything transparent. As Wecker explained, extracting their data, having it available, and analysing it has allowed them to move towards more transparency, allowing them to build more efficient and sustainable processes.
Use cases, a central subject at Railnova Tech Day
After a short pit stop for coffee, we embarked on the next topic. Use cases are extremely interesting and can get very technical, so that extra coffee energy came in handy!
We want to help our clients get the most out of Railnova. So we asked our own experts and some clients to share their experiences. Attendants could learn how other companies have solved their pains using the technological bricks Railnova puts at their disposal.
The first presentation of this block was brought by Railnovians Pavel Polinetskyi and Sacha Stinglhamber. They addressed the reliability issue by talking about the failure mode of the Railster device. Failure mode enables to save data locally so that little data – if any – is lost in case of hardware failure. Making sure that data is reliable and discovering failures and data early enough to avoid them is critical for good use cases.
Andreas Kurmann worked with Railnova to connect SBB’s IC2020 passenger trains. These trains are over 25 years old and, in most cases, hard to connect. It was especially interesting to hear how one of our clients spoke of the way Railnova worked to find solutions together with them to connect these trains and the wagons to the Railster device.
The last of the presentations in this block was that of our data scientist Hugues Brun. In his presentation, he used a real-life example to show how clustering and principal component analysis (PCA) could be used to identify anomalies in large data sets. This was a great example of how Railnova can help you leverage your data. All this was thanks to single-shot consultancy, creating recurrent reports, and designing alerts. Railnova has also helped establish relevant processes for a smooth integration in your organisation.
During our round-table discussion, one thing became clear. There are a lot of possibilities out there, but it is complex. The best way to overcome this complexity is by gathering the right people with the right skills to cooperate well.
The power of human connections
Lunch-time was a moment that was purposefully crafted to foster networking and connection between attendees. Railnovians put a lot of thought and effort into creating three activities to showcase our strengths.
The first activity aimed to show how true our statement of “plug and play” is. Guests could plug a Railster in themselves in our makeshift Railnova locomotive.
How we test our Railsters is no longer a mystery! The second activity was our engineers showcasing our test bench. Visitors could see and take part in a live test of a new Railster.
Our pick-and-place machine
The third activity showcased our office’s pride and joy: the pick-and-place machine. It was a great opportunity to explain how Railnova achieved in-house production for the Railster’s motherboard in the heart of Brussels. All Railnova products are designed and manufactured internally….home-made, so to speak. This might surprise you as much as it did some of our Railnova Tech Day attendees!
Railnova Tech Day as an opportunity for change
We can all agree that change can be daunting. Digitising processes is one of the biggest changes the railway industry has ever seen. It is probably the biggest change to date.
The Railnova Tech Day provided an opportunity to see change differently. Not by sugarcoating the complexities of actionable change but by openly discussing instances where change has been made.
Olivier Genkin, from AcceleRail advisors, put it this way during his presentation: “not only is digitisation the future of railway, it is the only way to avoid a total collapse”. This might sound scary, but it is no exaggeration.
The changes that come from mixing IT and business are often deeper than we think. They need a change in management and the understanding that implementing digitisation is a journey.
The good news is even though it is easier said than done, implementation is not impossible. MRCE’s Gerald Rupp provided an interesting example. He shared the digitisation journey that MRCE has embarked upon hand in hand with Railnova. Rupp made it clear that, at the end of the day, the importance of the goals outweighed the complexities and hurdles of digitisation.
Integration projects, Railnova is here to work with you!
Integration can be a hurdle because of the sheer size of most projects. Railnova’s business development lead, Xavier Jaffré, explained how Railnova supports large integration projects thanks to our diverse product portfolio.
Jaffré went into detail and demonstrated how our technological bricks are scaleable and thought out to overcome integration challenges, no matter the size of the project. Railnova’s offer is flexible to serve the needs of different projects at different scale: from an end-to-end solution including all Hardware and Software bricks to a single brick supply only.
Sébastien Margerand’s talk provided an overview of RATP Dev’s IoT strategy. They are a subsidiary of the RATP Group, responsible for developing and managing investments in urban growth infrastructures in the Paris region and worldwide. Margerand explained the importance of having an easy-to-scale product that meets both their current and future needs as a business. He expounded on Railnova’s scalability and how this has been key in collaborations with them as integrators.
After this insightful talk, we had the privilege of hearing Mario Mikuscheck from Accenture. As information technology services consultants, Accenture can observe the latest trends in railway. And their observations reinforced our beliefs. Building services based on data is the only way forward. Achieving greater productivity, driving growth, and attaining sustainability commitments can only be done by analysing data.
ECM challenges addressed during the Railnova Tech Day
Our colleague Pierre Gérard kicked off the last block of the day. His presentation was on integrating third-party counters via interfaces to get practical data for ECM and fleet management. Gérard brought us the real case of a customer with a fleet with a mix of telematics data installations. He spoke of the work that was done to integrate all the data into a single platform. We all know how frustrating it is to have data siloed up, making it unexploitable! This can be avoided thanks to Railnova’s approach.
This was further compounded by fellow Railnovian Floriant Louvet. He went into the technical complexities behind multi-company workflows. Getting a complete picture has been traditionally challenging because different stakeholders use different systems across the industry.
Having one platform that not only makes the workflows visible and accessible but also enables multi-tenancy. This includes the management of different roles and permissions makes communication much smoother. Seamless transmission of information is a great advantage for ECM compliance. As Florian Louvet pointed out, one of the main ECM-related challenges is the many stakeholders in the process. Communication must therefore be seamless for things to be safe and fast.
In the last talk of the day, André Biermann made us all smile with his review of the last 25 years of fleet management history. We could feel the pain of those poor people who had to manage the maintenance of large fleets manually with post-it notes. Those times are not so far behind us! Most companies still cope with the complex task of managing entire fleets with little more than an excel sheet updated by hand.
Having tools where you can centralise all the data and all the information, like Railnova’s Railfleet, is not only for the big companies. Our technological bricks can help smaller players cope with radical changes ahead. By reducing the impact of all the challenges ahead, Railnova’s technological bricks can make a real difference in the future of railway.
To finish with a bang, we had some delectable Belgian beers. Afterwards, it was time for a nice informal dinner and good conversation. What better way to finish off such a day?
Enough telling. Let us show you!
Don’t take our word for it! If you would like to see the videos of the day, follow the link to our Railnova Tech Day playlist: https://bit.ly/RailnovaTechDayPlaylist, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel while you’re there!
Do any of these challenges sound familiar? Would you like to work with Railnova? We are more than happy to see how we can help. Reach out to one of our team members today!
On November 24, 2022, JUNIA’s job fair took place at Lille Grand Palais. This was a fantastic occasion for Railnova to offer students better visibility of our company's culture, activities and professional opportunities.