ALEXEY BELINSKY:
«Time to get rid of ineffective reality options»
On the one hand, the digital focus of Russia's economy poses new for domestic companies, on the ­other hand, it creates additional opportunities. Alexey Belinsky, Member of the Board of Directors of LoCoTech Group of Companies and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ­­2050.­DIGITAL, has shared his opi­nion on the safest bets during the fourth technological revolution and the expectations the transport engineering industry has of digitalization.

ALEXEY BELINSKY:
«Time to get rid of ineffective reality options»

On the one hand, the digital focus of Russia's economy poses new for domestic companies, on the ­other hand, it creates additional opportunities. Alexey Belinsky, Member of the Board of Directors of LoCoTech Group of Companies and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ­­2050.­DIGITAL, has shared his opi­nion on the safest bets during the fourth technological revolution and the expectations the transport engineering industry has of digitalization.
Mr. Belinsky, what is your assessment of the digitalization degree of Russian transport engineering?

Unfortunately, to a large extent, the industry still remains in the previous century. We possess outstanding human resources, but not very high production capacities, and not always the most advanced products. We need to critically evaluate where we are falling behind, and make every effort to improve our competitiveness as compared to our foreign colleagues. We are fortunate that a certain technological transition is currently underway. At this very moment there is an opportunity to close the gap, and even get ahead of key competitors. It is not always clear which decisions will become mainstream, but there is always a chance to make a breakthrough and take leading positions on a global scale, owing to a high potential of intelligent people.

Are there sufficient resources for the breakthrough?

We have a very profound engineering and mathematics school, result-oriented people, and in certain industries — a rather high concentration of capital to finance new projects. Therefore, there is indeed everything which is required for a breakthrough. Rather, the main question is the ability to consolidate resources in order to focus on the achievement of a required result.

By the way, the degree of implementation of digital projects is still unsatisfactory not only in our country, but also abroad. There are no established standards or integrated solutions which could ensure a favorable transition to digital production. If we enter the market and request a purchase of 4.0, no one will sell us anything, as we expect that the seller could demonstrate previously implemented projects. In reality, everyone is ready to experiment on us, but no one can confirm proven effect. For the same reason, we are now developing our integration teams which review the solutions proposed in the market and analyze the means for their synchronization.
By the end of 2020 the "Digital Depot" concept
is to be extended over the entire network of locomotive service depots of LoCoteCh
A separate company 2050.DIGITAL has been established for the development and implementation of intelligent systems. Can it be considered as an individual segment of business?

Digital transformation in such a conservative industry as transport engineering is a challenging task. It is extremely difficult to change the system you are part of from the inside. Today 2050.DIGITAL Company is mainly working for LocoTech and Transmashholding, but at the same time it is an indepen­dent innovative business and a kind of incubator for startups in the field of microprocessor control systems and complex expert systems built on the basis of artificial intelligence techno­logies. Ultimately, these projects will provide us with a significant degree of automation and robotization of production and technological processes.

How do you find the ideas for startups?

We search for teams with attractive ideas or invent something by ourselves and establish a team. We are helping to create a product which can be tested at any production facility of LocoTech GC and TMH.

Are there any actual examples yet?

Yes, we have acquired a share in Clover Group Company which develops predictive analytics solutions. We are aiding them in the development of this product on our production base. At the same time, we are establishing a company for the application of additive technologies, developing interesting products with a team specializing in signalling systems (alarm, centralization and interlocking devices used to regulate and ensure train traffic safety. — Ed. note) — this is important not only for key customers, but for other industrial consumers as well.

What is the ultimate goal of digital initiatives implemented within LocoTech and Transmashholding?

The lifecycle of the products we produce will be accompanied by universal digital solutions for all enterprises of TMH and LocoTech. Feedback will be arranged from operation departments to designers in order to introduce changes which will significantly improve the performance of equipment. Business management systems will be integrated as well. In this regard, we are expecting to relieve the pressure of overhead expenses on the economy of the joint company.
The degree of implementation of digital projects is still unsatisfactory not only in our country, but also abroad
Primary ways to apply digital
  • Collection and processing of information prior to entry of a locomotive to a depot
  •  Minimization of the human factor during the repair activities
  •  Optimal management of goods and materials
  •  Integration solutions
Which projects by 2050.DIGITAL have already been implemented?

We are creating a digital environment for traction rolling stock production, maintenance and operation. Our main objective is to minimize human weaknesses leading to errors and failu­res at all stages of locomotive life­cycle. The mainstream project for such digital environment is the "Smart Locomotive". We are creating the "Digital Depot" in Vikhorevka as the next stage of this initiative. We are conducting an experiment of total digitalization of Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant as part of this large-scale idea.

Are we talking about an effort to create a kind of a digital plant?

That is absolutely true. We are stri­ving to achieve a significant increase in the efficiency of locomotive production through complete digitalization, building of digital production twins, digital product shadows, and application of artificial intelligence tools to resolve optimization issues.

What does this mean in terms of practical application?

All production facilities should be able to generate and forward data to a unified system, and this system should accept this data, process and transfer the "extract" to decision-making assistance systems. As a result, we acquire a digital twin of the plant or the product which the plant produces, and it means that it becomes possible to make virtual design changes to a particular machine model, conduct virtual trials and even virtual testing of various process solutions applied. Thus, we are provided with an entire set of analytical tools for testing various scenarios of creation and operation of a pro­duct with no costs for prototypes. And at the production stage, we obtain an ideal technology and an ideal product.

A great number of tasks resolved by entire departments of designers and engineers can be optimized. The same teams can do more work much more efficiently. At the same time, we are not talking about a reduction of assets, but rather about getting rid of inefficient options of reality. As a result, the labor of a designer will shift from the deve­lopment of a specific unit to system integration of units developed by machines.
We will be able to produce an ideal traction unit for any customer requirements, and to do so very quickly
Does this mean that the market will acquire a perfect locomotive?

We will be able to produce an ideal traction unit for any customer requirements, and to do so very quickly. Today, we are developing one and the same locomotive model for a number of years for a specific testing facility. But let us imagine a situation where a new model is deve­loped at any request from a customer according to his very specific requirements for a particular site and operating conditions, and immediately produce as a small series of the model at a production faci­lity with a high degree of automation. In other words, in the future every customer will receive not something a plant can produce, but something that the custo­mer really needs. At the same time, the customer may not even know which mo­del is required — it will be enough to formulate the tasks, and a machine will be ready within several months. This is an ideal scenario, and it is achievable by means of using tools, which we are currently learning to apply.
SUMMARY

  • Russian machine engineering has all the prerequisites for a technological and digital breakthrough. However, this requires consolidation of resources and focus on the required results.
  • LocoTech in collaboration with 2050.DIGITAL is creating a digital environment for production, maintenance and ope­ration of the rolling stock in order to minimize the human factor.
  • Ideally, the creation of digital production twins and the application of artificial intelligence tools will allow to produce an ideal traction unit promptly and in accordance with any customer's requirements.
Editor-in-Chief:
Daria Topilskaya
Telephone:
+7 (499) 638-22-98
E-mail: press@locotech.ru
Send your letters and proposals at:
59 bldg. 2, Zemlyanoy Val, Moscow, 109004