The other aspect he mentions is that they have the odometer reading on there as well, so maintenance managers can have that information automatically grabbed and sent. “They know when they need the scheduled maintenance,” he says.
As with all systems he agrees that there’s somewhat of a learning curve, but the system is designed to be easy-to-use. The system integrates into various maintenance management software packages and it’s a relatively easy plug-in. “It just starts feeding more information in to it,” Whitney says. “You have to go through on the other side and learn how to run reports and a few things that really help you to manage your fleets better.”
Bombardier’s Orbiflo and Orbita
Bombardier's Director, ORBIFLO Program, Mikel Doucet provides information on how ORBIFLO/Orbita provides an innovative and intelligent wayside solution for rail:
Orbita was launched in a pilot project with First ScotRail in the United Kingdom in 2006. The pilot involved monitoring 33 three-car Class 170 Turbostar units. Today, Orbita gathers data from more than 2,900 vehicles across the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa with more than 150 users now regularly logging in to the Orbita solution. Orbita is a service offering composed of people, processes and tools that help identify train service issues before they occur and perform root cause analysis of occurred problems. "It combines data gathered from the trains with Bombardier Transportation's global fleet knowledge and engineering expertise to enable active, holistic management of vehicle and infrastructure maintenance, performance and operation."
The tools component used in Orbita is the ORBIFLO software product suite which is an integrated solution that remotely manages operations, passengers, security and maintenance aspects. The ORBIFLO solution is composed of four parts that Doucet explains simply as: obtaining data, transferring the data, storing/managing the data, and accessing/analyzing the data. With the obtained data, it is possible to know precisely the current fleet status in real time for operations purposes. Since the trains-to-wayside communication link is bidirectional, it is also possible to request specific information and perform some remote tasks (e.g. to power-up the train remotely and to update the timetables for the ‘Passenger Information System’).
With the history of collected data, it is possible to automate and alert the users of trends occurring in the train data. Doucet shares that trend analysis enables prevention of in-service failures, increasing reliability and availability of the rolling stock. "On average, 15 percent, evolving to 30 percent with more intelligent vehicles, of failures can be trended and warnings can be issued before an event occurs."
The ORBIFLO/Orbita solution enables proactive identification of problems Doucet says. It converts data into meaningful information, enabling better maintenance planning. Also, quicker investigation times can significantly reduce operating costs.
For transit agencies, this also allows for maximum fleet utilization and availability, ensuring trains run on time, every time and passengers enjoy a better traveling experience, Doucet says.
Choosing a System
Each of the systems has a passionate force behind it with experience and knowledge to share with agencies. Whitney of NetworkFleet says, “There are a lot of different companies out there that do these kinds of things, so you really need to look at them carefully and understand what they are capable of doing and what they are not capable of doing, how it works, how integrated it is, and how long they’ve been around.
“These are fairly significant investments; you’re going to spend a lot of time and a fair amount of money getting them installed and integrated so you want to make sure the company’s going to be there for the long term.”
Williams of Continental says, “This is really cool to be pointing at right now because there is this big change happening; there’s money being invested; this European influence is coming in, you can see the story unfolding, it’s going to be a different marketplace in 10 years.