Multinational conglomerate and locomotive manufacturer General Electric (GE) Transportation announced last month that its locomotive autopilot control system, Trip Optimizer, has clocked 100-million autopilot miles in locomotives equipped with the software.
The milestone was announced at railway exhibition the Railway Interchange, which ran from September 17 to 20 in Indianapolis, US, where GE showcased several digital industrial technologies that have achieved significant milestones.
GE has delivered over 500 Evolution Series Tier 4-compliant locomotives to US customers. Many feature the Trip Optimizer, which is designed for railroads and has subsequently enabled customers to significantly reduce their emissions.
The technology being developed by GE Transportation is connecting the entire rail ecosystem. The outcomes delivered through this connection are enhanced networks that reduce downtime and operating costs.
GE Transportation cab electronics GM Seth Bodnar notes that a digital rail system means that freight is delivered faster, more reliably and at a lower cost.
GE Transportation’s Evolution Series Tier 4 locomotive is the first freight locomotive to meet the strict Tier 4 emissions regulations set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
GE’s smartest locomotive has more than 200 sensors on board, processes over a billion instructions a second and provides about 10 GB of data per locomotive a year.
Further, GE’s Trip Optimizer builds an enhanced operating plan based on data collected about the train’s characteristics.
This solution has helped the rail industry decrease fuel costs, reduce emissions and improve bottom lines since its production launch in 2009.
GE notes that the 100-million autocontrol miles benchmark equates to an estimated 56-million gallons of fuel saved, $197-million in fuel costs saved and 628 000 t of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
GE says customers have experienced fuel savings of between 3% and 17%, depending on the type of train service operated and the rail topography, with average savings for the fleet estimated at 10%.
Improved fuel efficiency correlates with emissions savings and locomotive customers experienced an average 10% reduction in emissions.The
Trip Optimizer is certified by the EPA as an emissions-savings energy-management system.
Currently, the Trip Optimizer is installed in over 6 000 GE locomotives worldwide.
Global customers, including six of the seven Class 1 railroads, have ordered an additional 2 000 systems.
Meanwhile, GE says the Trip Optimizer will be available on non-GE locomotives at the beginning of 2016.
In addition, GE has released the SmartHPT (horsepower per ton) upgrade. This allows for the Trip Optimizer to idle select locomotives within a train to maintain track speed for additional fuel savings.
Meanwhile, GE hosted its twenty-sixth yearly client conference from June 15 to 17, where the company introduced several new product enhancements to its RailConnect 360 software and services. The company also announced the winners of GE Transportation’s FastTrack Awards.
Hundreds of GE Transportation customers and partners attended 65 sessions conducted by GE Transportation software engineers and subject matter experts. As part of the conference, GE held training sessions on analytic tools that enable better decision-making to improve the outcomes across the rail enterprise. Other topics included mobility, revenue management and asset enhancement.
GE Global Services VP Pete McCabe, who was a keynote speaker at the client conference, says the conference is a great forum for GE’s customers to meet with other industry leaders. “Our RailConnect 360 solutions have a lot to offer and this conference gives us the opportunity to have a dialogue with our customers and to ensure that we are delivering the support our customers need.”
RailConnect 360 leverages GE’s Industrial InternetPredix platform, developed at the software centre of excellence in the California-based Silicon Valley, in the US, where GE has invested $1-billion in industrial software development.
This investment has sparked a software-led movement within GE to connect machines, business operations and people – bringing the “industrial Internet” to life.
RailConnect 360 provides railroads with data-driven insight to address key customer pain points like velocity, fuel, reliability and productivity.
The software features Asset Performance Analytics, which is a suite of predictive maintenance solutions that feed machine sensor data into advanced analytical models, which predict component failures before they occur, enabling rail equipment owners to make proactive maintenance and replacement decisions.
Another feature, RailConnect Revenue Management Advanced Analytics, is a powerful business intelligence offering designed to provide business insight, support interline accounting and industry rules and drive business performance.
Further, to assist train crews, GE offers RailConnect mCrew, a mobile software solution with an improved user interface that allows for crews to receive switching instructions and report car movement activity in the field.
Meanwhile, the new user interface of RailConnect 2.0 Visual Yard has made improvements to access, view, save and print data from the RailConnect Transportation Management inventory.
To enhance daily operations, GE offers the RailDOCS Wayside Asset Management System, which plans, manages and enhances the daily operations of railroad maintenance departments. RailDOCS is used to maintain and configure assets on location in the field, and complete timely tests and inspections to comply with federal and railroad requirements.
Moreover, ShipperConnect Rail Track and Trace are now integrated with Predix to provide an enhanced user experience, including improved data quality and estimated time of arrivals, as well as a flexible, feature- rich user interface designed to accom- modate a variety of users.
The ShipperConnect Yard & Transload Management package offers graphical representation and multiple work views of facilities, track layout and customised process flows to significantly improve the process of managing rail assets and inventories within a plant or transload facility.