GE Transportation and Indian Railways to launch 1,000 fuel-efficient trains by 2025. Here are 4 technologies key to this initiative. The Indian Railways aims to be more fuel-efficient and become a bigger part of the ‘Digital India’ narrative. Here is an overview of how GE Transportation envisions this.
Crouched on my knees, I peered upwards to get a better view of the undersides of a railway engine locomotive. I could count six axles and twelve wheels, in total. Everything seemed to be in place. I stood up and then inspected the inside of the engine room and walked to the left to inspect the exteriors. Satisfied, I took off the goggles that were mandatory for this inspection, to understand how I could move on to the next stage.
From the interior of the railway compartment, I was suddenly brought back to reality which was a dimly lit virtual reality lab at GE Transportation’s John F. Welch Technology Centre, Bengaluru. The entire inspection I had just done had been facilitated through a 3D virtual reality environment and my motion was being tracked through the specially designed wearable goggles and the infrared cameras placed in the room.
For the next few minutes, a few journalists and I took turns to experience the virtual reality environment and also interact with the surroundings and inspect specific parts of the complex locomotive. The latter was facilitated with the help of a VR controller that lets users interact with individual components to ‘unscrew’ and ‘screw’ them for a better view.
The VR lab is equipped with a 12x8 feet screen where CAD models are projected in 3D at a scale of 1:1 or greater. It allows cross-border teams to collaborate and review products that are under development. The lab can also function as a training ground for service engineers who work on products in the field.
GE Transportation’s global ambitions
Established more than a century ago, GE Transportation is a division of the General Electric Company that began as a pioneer in passenger and freight locomotives. Headquartered in Chicago, IL, GE Transportation, employs approximately 12,000 employees worldwide.
As a global digital industrial leader, GE Transportation, supplies to the rail, mining, marine, stationary power and drilling industries. It is a division of Boston, Massachusetts-based General Electric.
In June 2017, GE signed a $575 million agreement with Ministry of Transportation and Egyptian National Railways to help transform rail infrastructure in Egypt. Some of GE Transportation’s other recent efforts include partnering with Ferromex to digitise Locomotive Service Operations in Mexico. The company also completed an agreement with Pakistan Railways to supply 20 locomotives to the country.
As part of GE’s commitment, the digital company also innovates, partners and develops technology solutions that improve the quality of life in India.
Digital India’s ambitions for the Indian railways – 1,000 locomotives by 2025
GE has been providing locomotive technology to the Indian Railways and will now be supplying 1,000 fuel-efficient Evolution Series locomotives (100 per year) by 2025 through a joint venture company between GE and the Indian Railways. These new locomotives are part of the Government of India’s Public Private Partnership programme to modernise the country’s rail infrastructure.
The project aims to significantly modernise India's rail infrastructure, providing critical support for India's growing economy. As part of the initiative, GE is building a diesel locomotive factory in Marhowra district in the Indian state of Bihar, as well as maintenance sheds at Roza in UP and Gandhidham in Gujarat. The new locomotives will start the process of upgrading the Indian Railways’ aging fleet of locomotives.
GE Transportation recently rolled out Indian Railways’ first Evolution Series locomotive from the paint stall, revealing the railroad's new paint scheme. The ES43ACmi (Indian Railways’ class – WDG4G) locomotive, painted in a distinctive red and yellow pattern, is the first of the 1,000 diesel freight locomotives that GE Transportation will deliver to Indian Railways as part of a $2.5 billion order.
GE Transportation said in a statement that Indian Railways’ new colour scheme was completed using approximately 50 gallons of paint. The coating and paint will provide the locomotive with protection in the harsh environments where Indian Railways operates. GE Transportation is preparing to ship the locomotive in a few weeks. It is expected to arrive in India later this year.
This new ES43ACmi locomotive is the ideal solution for Indian Railways’ modernisation efforts,” said Yuvbir Singh, VP of Global Locomotive Operations for GE Transportation. “The design is based on our Evolution Series locomotives. It will provide greatly improved fuel efficiency and emissions compared to Indian Railways’ existing non-Evolution Series fleet.”
The ES43ACmi locomotive is one of two models GE Transportation is building for Indian Railways as part of the order. It’s a dual-cab locomotive with a 4,500-horsepower engine. The second locomotive, model ES57ACi, features a 6,000-horsepower engine. It is currently in the design phase and will begin production later this year.
Below are some of the digital offerings from GE Transportation which GE believes can be utilised at the Indian Railways as the latter takes a step towards modernisation as part of the Make in India campaign.
1. Asset Performance Monitor (APM)
Asset Performance Monitor (APM) from GE Digital helps asset-centric organisations drive safer and more reliable operations. They also facilitate optimal performance at a lower sustainable cost by enabling intelligent asset strategies.
GE claims that APM’s risk-based intelligent asset strategies balance performance and cost by considering design, operational procedures, and maintenance plans for all assets. APM provides work processes for reliability engineering, maintenance analysis, and environment, health and safety (EH&S), as well as the capabilities of equipment data capture, integration, and visualisation, along with both predictive and diagnostic analytics.
With APM, GE believes that clients like Indian Railways could get an enterprise-wide view of the impact of asset performance management activities to help them make better decisions.
APM includes software, services, and business-process support. Built on Predix, a software platform that offers connectivity from the edge to the cloud and computing capabilities at every level of the industrial software, APM manages collaborative workflows between experts and operational teams while balancing cost, availability and reliability, and risk.
Locotrol Distributed Power System is a control and communication system that enables coordinated braking and traction power distribution between lead and remote engines — for faster stopping times, shorter stopping distances.
For example, while a train is passing over an incline, Locotrol is able to ensure that different compartments are able to move at different speeds facilitated by radio commands from the lead engine to secondary engines placed at different intervals. As a result, compartments are able to get better traction while climbing uphill, while other section move at optimal speed simultaneously while they are going downhill.
GE Transportation noted in a statement,
This results in increased hauling capacity, throughput, better rail adhesion, improved fuel efficiency, increased system throughput, lowered brake pipe charging time, and reduced operating costs.
The Locovision system comprises of six components, all working together to monitor the safety of the railroad. Through superior image quality cameras and real-time data processing, it monitors wayside assets, and also measures track gauge and detects intruders. The system stores all of this information in a hardware infrastructure, and aims to help avoid major asset repairs and fines.
4. Rail Integrity Monitor
Rail Integrity Monitor (RIM) employs innovative technology with mounted sensors under the locomotive, continuously testing rail integrity in real-time. This can reduce service interruption durations due to both broken rails and shorted track circuits.
GE Transportation is working on not just the locomotive project for Indian Railways but is also planning to take the “Digital” path for the Indian Railways through its offerings across its platforms for fleet management to real-time data connectivity. GE Transportation envisions a future where the next generation of Indian Railways is smart, advanced, and efficient.
Website- GE Transportation