How is augmented reality changing the rail workplace?
The most important aspects of working in the rail industry are productivity, safety, and information gathering. In addition, focusing on actual operational issues, handling the cultural conflict inside the organizations, or integrating technology into (new) procedures are examples of typical roadblocks.
The industry has long looked for ways to more accurately anticipate issues before they arise, saving money and effort while also increasing customer satisfaction.
Rail personnel need an optimized inspection procedure for the network, assets, and trains in order to accomplish these objectives. At the same time, implementing new technologies is a struggle for this sector.
To overcome this challenge, Netcetera creates and invests in cutting-edge solutions that use Augmented Reality, one of the most emerging technologies that can potentially have a great impact on the rail industry. Jumping from 25.33 billion in 2021, the Augmented Reality market is expected to reach $340.6 billion by 2028, growing at a staggering rate of 43.8% per year.
In this article, we’re exploring the workday of an Operator who works in a railway environment supported by Augmented Reality.
What is Augmented Reality?
The Collins Dictionary describes Augmented Reality (AR) as “an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer-generated data,” making it one of the most well-known technologies of the past ten years. A screen, whether it be on a tablet, phone, or head-mounted device, may display graphics that are overlaid on the real environment to create an Augmented Reality.
Several industries have expressed interest in employing augmented reality (AR) in recent years. AR is currently accessible in healthcare, e-commerce, the military, and many other industries.
The technology has also shown great promise for rail uses, bringing a new, visual perspective to areas of the industry that have long been constrained, including servicing and training. Augmented Reality supports railway workers by visualizing information, such as digital work instructions, video lessons, or remote help sessions with other professionals.
The Operator 4.0 Perspective
To help railway employees, new AR-based equipment like head-mounted displays and augmented reality software allow them to operate without their hands and get real-time instructions.
This approach is user-friendly and straightforward, and it helps rail personnel do their tasks by providing step-by-step instructions, access to a digital knowledge bank, and remote assistance. This concept strives for a human-centered strategy to make it possible for AR technology to be adopted in daily activities in a very natural way.
Let’s explore the different aspects of the impact AR makes on an Operator’s day.
As it depends on things like weather and infrastructure quality, maintaining rails is sometimes a dangerous, impractical, and finite endeavor.
When paired with artificial intelligence and sophisticated weather forecasts, AR enables remote track inspection and can help with predictive maintenance.
Moreover, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought infrastructure safety management back into sharp focus, particularly in major communication hubs like airports and train stations.
For example, as part of a pandemic preparedness strategy, Rome's "Leonardo da Vinci" airport was the first in Europe to install a Smart Helmet-based system for monitoring visitors' body temperatures in real time.
The notion of in-person training sessions is particularly difficult from an administrative perspective in a field where the personnel is by necessity widely distributed and works in shifts.
Like many other industries, the railway sector is using AR and VR to make employee training more dynamic, interesting, and effective. This technology is increasingly being used for training since it makes the learning process easier and faster.
Augmented reality is being used in the UK's HS2, a new high-speed rail line that is now being built, for worker training procedures. The organization launched deep AR-based technology in the summer of 2019 to build a virtual duplicate of its new London hub, Old Oak Common station. This solution is being used by workers to get training prior to the station's launch, designed to serve 275,000 passengers each day.
Our AR-based platform, Inspect AR, enables you to work faster and more accurately, overcoming the skills gap and keeping the expert know-how organized.
Railway servicing & maintenance
One of the aspects where AR can be most helpful is station and rail infrastructure maintenance.
When used in conjunction with other technologies, such as sensors, the Internet of Things, and Artificial intelligence, AR enables remote control of the condition of the tracks and railway infrastructure, which can be a huge help in the prediction of maintenance needs.
Here is just a portion of the processes it can cover through digital work instructions, remote support, and the use of a digital repository:
- Identifying rail cars and other different parts
- The process of inspecting machinery and confirming the status
- Setting up SOPs for servicing and maintaining
Why Implement Augmented Reality in the Rail Worker’s Life?
The many digital tools and apps that AR offers allow freight train employees to do their responsibilities swiftly and without skipping any important procedures.
Here are the benefits of AR for rail workers:
- Complete tasks faster, resulting in accurate train schedules and reduced downtime
- Constantly get accurate information and perform predictive maintenance on point, minimizing human error
- A safer environment with on-demand documentation that includes videos, images, and voice-to-text
- An ergonomic work experience allowing rail workers to do their work in any weather while navigating around machinery
- Experts' remote support calls provide first-time solutions and faster issue resolution, minimizing the need for extra workers to go on-site
- Improved & more streamlined processes that result in saving time and costs
- Remote support that allows freight train workers to learn while addressing troubleshooting
With real-time information and hands-free vocal commands, AR-based technologies support front-line rail operators, enhancing freight train inspections. These technologies incorporate cutting-edge procedures that improve safety and offer the finest support for train personnel, as well as promote production and help rail transportation firms succeed.
We are on the mission to provide a digitized inspection process for all railway workers. To achieve this, we acquired RouteRANK, a smart mobility company that will boost our multimodal mobility and transportation portfolio, with Inspect AR at its heart.
Inspect AR is a complete and scalable company AR platform. Don’t rely on paper and pen for maintenance anymore—instead, use a digital testing method powered by Augmented Reality.
We invite you to visit our stand at this year's Innotrans in Berlin and learn more about Inspect AR and how it is revolutionizing the railway industry.