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Vehicle Virtual Handover

posted on 28th Jul 2020 00:42

Siemens Mobility and  SBB Cargo International realised the digital handover of locomotives for the first time: for four Vectrons this has been achieved at the Regensburg works in April 2020.

At the time of strict COVID-19 regulations, a standard procedure for the acceptance of rail vehicles is not possible. The solution is a virtual handover via data glasses. The idea behind this forward-looking approach is simple: enabling virtual customer acceptance, without the customer having to travel on site and being exposed to the risk of infection.

And this is how the idea was put into practice: during digital handover, the technician wears data glasses - either real glasses or a kind of helmet camera. The live image and sound are transmitted directly to the customer. This means that its technician is virtually present in the vehicle during both the initial inspection and the test run. 

A practice-oriented solution was the question of the hour - and Quality Manager Heinrich Brunner at Siemens had it on hand: „We already prepared for the use of data glasses several months ago. But the fact that they could be successfully tested in practice within such a short time is due to the COVID-19 restrictions."

However, such an experiment would not have been possible without the long-standing business relationship built on mutual trust with client. Such intensive cooperation with SBB Cargo International has proven its worth for more than five years: 38 Class 193 Vectron locomotives are already in service at this company. 

The rail freight specialist operating on the North-South corridor crossing the Swiss Alps urgently needed the locomotives in order to perform system-critical tasks to ensure the continuity of freight transport from the North Sea ports right down to Italy. That is why the suggestion to organise a digital acceptance process caught the customer’s attention right away.

Sven Flore, CEO of SBB Cargo International, said: „Since the delivery of our first Vectron locomotives, the cooperation with Siemens Mobility has been characterised by high professionalism. It provided the basis for testing this new approach which was already presented at a customer conference in München several years ago. What looked like a science fiction show at that time has now been implemented in practice. We are proud to be the first Siemens Mobility partner to have taken this step into the digital future.“

This procedure will be subjected to further testing and improved in order to be able to deploy it as a standardised alternative for vehicle handover procedures in the medium to long term. The first handover of this type with SBB Cargo International in April was already followed by others for other clients.

For Siemens Mobility, handover via data glasses is just another piece in the puzzle of the digital future - similar to other procedures already in place such as predictive maintenance or automatic vehicle inspection. In addition to customer-related processes, further potential fields of application include authorisation procedures with public authorities and smart applications for passengers.

These and other technical innovations ensure smooth rail business operations - even in the current situation. At the moment, we mainly rely on digital handover to avoid the risk of infection. Looking somewhat further ahead, however, customer journeys for handover procedures could even become totally avoidable, thus contributing to reducing the environmental footprint caused by air travel and other individual transport modes. Siemens Mobility is already planning further digital handovers via data glasses. 

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