The recent tragedy in Canada involving an unattended train magnifies the critical need for organizations to have systems in place to monitor critical events. Events aren’t new to railways. The logistics and transportation industry was one of the first to adopt event management around the physical movement of goods and resources. The need for hyper efficiency, safety monitoring, and simplification of complex logistics led to the development of RFID and other systems that could monitor and anticipate opportunities and risks as they occur…as discrete events.
From the early days, railroads deployed mile markers alongside their tracks. Those mile markers became an ideal place to put event sensors that track the movement of trains. Railroad engines, cars, and axles are independently detected and data is transmitted as trains pass by. In more recent years, sensors have been installed to read temperatures of brakes, movement of rails, and other factors that are critical for the anticipation of challenges like equipment breakdown and maintenance needs. This is where events enter the picture as a powerful concept.
Often times, those events occur not as a single measure or moment, but in combinations that can be correlated by technology.
Events are Key in Anticipating Derailment
As an example, when excessive heat is detected, the train engineer is notified when and where to discharge suspect railcars for manual inspection. These cars are left behind and the train maintains its original course; these steps are taken to avoid affects to the train schedule. A process is initiated for the freight on the suspect cars, and transfers of materials or goods are made to another viable car. Additionally, customers are notified of the potential delay. Efficiency is boosted and maintenance becomes less expensive and derailments are avoided. The value of event processing alongside process is enormous.
Events in Smart Track Management
Soon, all tracks and railroads will be mandated to be smart and “see” and understand train traffic; and coordinate multiple trains, switches, and advanced signaling for safe avoidance of emergency stops (which create equipment problems). As one can imagine, there will be more events generated and coordinated in a complex way to make rail travel (of people or freight) safer and also reduce labor costs for the railroads.
Events are crucial to railroad management and other industries. The nature of events recognized, aggregated, and responded to will continue to evolve over time, but events will grow significantly in the foreseeable future.