Denis
Kasimov:

«Digitization For efficiency —
That's what We need»



LoCoTech Group of Companies is collaborating with Clover Group to implement an ambitious program for the introduction of predictive analysis of a locomotive's condition. Its implementation will change the ideology of locomotive fleet maintenance in Russia. Denis Kasimov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Clover Group, speaks of the new view on information.
Denis Kasimov:
«Digitization for efficiency — that's what
we need»

LoCoTech Group of Companies is collaborating with Clover Group to implement an ambitious program for the introduction of predictive analysis of a locomotive's condition. Its implementation will change the ideology of locomotive fleet maintenance in Russia. Denis Kasimov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Clover Group, speaks of the new view on information.
Clover Group
Russian developer of solutions in the field of predictive repairs for railway engineering, energy and oil-and-gas industry. The company was established in 2016. Clover Group has two offices located in Kazan and Moscow. The staff comprises over 100 employees —mathematicians, engineers, data analysts, developers, consultants and industry experts. Clover Group cooperates with the largest enterprises of Russia, the CIS, Europe, the Middle East and Asia in the field of application of predictive analytics.
Mr. Kasimov, how is locomotive engineering and repair different from other industries in terms of digitalization?

In my opinion, there is a very good factor in locomotive engineering allo­wing it to be a little ahead of the ­others — it is the business model applied. For instance, LocoTech receives "money from the wheels", i.e. as long as a locomotive operates. As soon as it stops for repair, the company does not receive any money. This is specified in so-called life cycle contracts, which are not yet very widespread in the domestic indust­ry. Even such a seemingly progressive industry as automotive engineering has not yet applied this concept. We are still paying for the fact of repair. The more often you maintain your car, the more money is made by the car service. But it is a dead-end model.

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What is the main idea of the Smart Locomotive system?

This is a bright example of the use of a predictive analysis system for repair management. Approximately one third of the fleet in Russia is equipped with microprocessor control systems. Around 250 sensors are installed on each such locomotive. Information from the sensors is transferred to the on-board computer, from which it is periodically read, and transferred to a single "brain" where the primary data is analyzed.

The analysis results in the current and forecasted technical condition of the locomotive. We can observe variations of currents, temperatures of the cylinders, filter clogging and operation disruptions in real time — a total of about 300 parameters depending on the locomotive model. All information is transmitted to the ERP system (a software package implementing an enterprise resource planning system. — Ed. note) to create a job order for over-cycle work: which locomotive units should be exa­mined more carefully, and which flaws should be removed. Thus, the function of locomotive diagnostics is carried out.

Now we are launching the second stage of cooperation with LocoTech — digitalization of a depot, which will improve the planning function. Smart Locomotive System will be expan­ded to the SmartMaintenance solution functionality (it was previously referred to as Digital Dispatcher System in the media. — Ed. Note). ­Owing to this system, a specialist of the production and technical department will be able to observe the technical condition of each machine, as well as its mileage and residual life. The specialist will also know the schedule of utilization of the available capacities and will be able to decide whether to start maintenance of a locomotive. It will result in prompt management of repairs, taking into account the technical condition of a particular machine.
Why is on-condition repair better then scheduled preventive works, which have been commonly used until recently?

For instance, you have decided to drive your car to another city, but the timing belt broke on the way. As a result, the valves were bent, and the pistons failed — the engine requires an overhaul. The expenses will amount to approximately a fifth of the car price. But if you knew about the critical wear of the belt in advance, you would have stopped at the technical station earlier and simply replaced this important part. The cost of prevention is incomparable with the cost of repair.

However, a punctual car owner regularly undergoes car inspections. This is the scheduled repair as well. What is the profit here?

How often should the car undergo service? Is the driving style taken into account? And if I buy a used car, how do I know the conditions of its operation? And what if I regularly drive from Tynda to Mongolia? There are sands on the one hand, and eternal frost on the other. It is absolutely unclear to me, what processes are developing underneath the car body. And even if you regularly undergo inspections, it is impossible to consider all the factors. We continuously monitor a large array of data and extract valuable information from it.

In fact, we are only in the period of transition to on-condition repair. The process will be completed when the relevant regulations are changed at the legislative level. Then it will be possible to carry out a certain scope of average repair, and do the remaining activities related to the technical condition and overhaul with certain allowances.
In fact, we are only in the period of transition to on-condition repair. The process will be completed when the relevant regulations are changed at the legislative level
What is the situation with the regulatory framework in terms of digitalization?

The situation is positive. The regulatory framework is available and it is rather stringent, although certain allowances have been made, thanks to the developers. For instance, for some types of service, a locomotive mileage limit of 10 thousand km has been established, give or take 10%, which is another thousand kilometers. In other words, the machine can transport the cargo to the next destination point and arrive at the repair site. This, of course, does not apply to failure cases. If re­gulations are adjusted for digital models and continuous monitoring, the mileage limit can be further increased. But it is too early for this yet. It takes time to gather experience. Then the chan­ges will be justified and substantiated.

What results will LocoTech obtain from the innovations?


First, the diagnostics time will decrease. If previously a specialist searched for issues for 3-4 hours, today the system provides a result in 20 minutes. Secondly, there are indirect effects which we expect to obtain. This accelerates decision-making, shortens the spare part delivery time and allows to efficiently allocate stocks in warehouses. We are finally at another level of repair quality! Possessing the data on all locomotive systems before and after entering the depot, we can clearly see how its technical condition has actually changed. Soon we are going to evaluate the results of our cooperation, and all these effects will become visible.

What's your vision of the further partnership with LocoTech?


There are a lot of options for development. And all of them are positive in my opinion, as they are associated with the digital future and the application of "di­gits" in business. LocoTech is the largest company in Russia, which provides this type of services at this level. In addition to the main customer represented by RZD the company also has a rather large number of private clients, which are also approached by other service companies. The contract will be awarded to the one who provides services of better quality with higher efficiency and more promptly. Our cooperation allows us to increase the competitiveness of LocoTech. You need to understand that no one needs digitalization for the sake of digitalization itself, but rather for the sake of increasing efficiency in business, which is where the value is!
SUMMARY
  • LocoTech and RZD have implemented an unprecedented locomotive fleet service scheme in the country —a lifecycle contract. This has changed the motivation of machine builders. Now the reliability of a locomotive has a direct impact on the economic results of LocoTech activities.
  • Due to the introduction of digital technologies, predictive analysis and on-condition repair of locomotives, it has become possible to significantly increase the efficiency of servicing the fleet of locomotives and to increase labor productivity. This is the project implemented by LocoTech.
  • The case of LocoTech is an interesting example not only for public railway transportation. The locomotive fleet is managed by various enterprises of rail transportation industrial companies; in addition, it is applicable for other types of transport.
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