Preventing rail disruptions instead of repairing them. This sounds like the future. However, the Dutch company InTraffic brings prevention a step closer to the present with Big Data. The software system that the ICT firm developed, enables the Dutch railway operator ProRail to discover the cause of disruptions to the railway infrastructure. Thanks to Big Data solutions, ProRail can undertake action to prevent potential disruptions.
Nationwide monitor of infrastructure
The Dutch company developed a nationwide monitor for the railway infrastructure of ProRail, the so-called ‘LIM’. This Big Data solution consists of a dashboard that structurally communicates relevant data about the railway, which can then easily be viewed by ProRail. The system guards and analyses approximately 5.600 centrally operated railway switches in the Netherlands. During the day, these switches send status updates to LIM. The system then processes these updates in the dashboard, which provides ProRail with insights in the number of malfunctions on the railway, the time duration of switches to move from left to right and other problems concerning the operation of the railway switches.
Based on this data and algorithms, the LIM makes predictions on the status and maintenance of the railway infrastructure. That way, ProRail can conduct maintenance before a problem occurs and become more proactive in the management of the railway infrastructure. The ultimate goal of InTraffic is for the LIM to collect as much information about the infrastructure as possible for the Big Data solution to make accurate predictions of when a problem will occur on the railway, two days before the problem actually occurs. This enables the railway concern to reduce the amount of unexpected disruptions on the railway switches in the future. By doing this, ProRail aims to diminish failure of the infrastructure for its passengers and save costs on maintenance and repair.
The construction of LIM was assigned to InTraffic by ProRail. During the tendering procedure of this project, the railway management organization made use of the CO2 Performance Ladder. For this tender, InTraffic was selected as one of the so-called ‘Preferred suppliers’. “The Preferred suppliers consist of a small group of companies that have been selected by the commissioning party based on an open tender. This group usually consists of four companies that have a greater chance at winning the project, because the companies in the group have each gone through a thorough qualification trajectory and are qualified by the commissioning party”, Peter Lamers, Quality & Assurance manager at InTraffic, says. The CO2 Performance Ladder was not only applied during the tender of the LIM-project, but also used as a selection criteria for the group of Preferred suppliers.
“Based on the selection as Preferred supplier and the tender, we have been selected by ProRail as the software developer of LIM. Winning this project meant a fictitious discount on our registration fee, because the commissioning party makes use of the ladder in the tender and our organization has been certified for the CO2 management system. InTraffic has the 5th and highest level of the CO2 Performance Ladder, therefore our fictitious discount was higher than when we would be on the third level of the ladder, for example. Next to the LIM-project, InTraffic has implemented a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model in a different project. This model stimulates CO2 reduction by using electrical vehicles. It does not count as a direct reduction of CO2 emissions, but it contributes to a more sustainable way of travelling.”
CO2 emissions Scope 3
Lamers thinks that InTraffic can contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in scope 3 of the CO2 Performance Ladder. Emissions that are labeled within this scope are caused by sources that are not owned nor managed by the company itself. Examples of scope 3 emissions are emissions that are caused by the production of materials that are purchased by the company (upstream) or emissions caused by the usage of products and services that the company delivers (downstream). Lamers: “For InTraffic, it is not very rewarding to install an extra energy efficient lamp in our office building. This is because we have been working towards making our all our office buildings more energy efficient, even before we worked with the CO2 Performance Ladder. Moreover, we are not an organization that causes a lot of emissions on a project level. That’s why we see more opportunities in reducing scope 3 emissions. In order to do this, we ask ourselves the question: how can we help our clients reduce CO2 emissions and make a lasting impact? A project such as the LIM can lead to cost savings and more efficiency in repair and maintenance of the railroad, which leads to a great amount of CO2 reduction. In a couple of years from now, we expect the LIM software program to be able to predict disturbances on the railroad even before they occur. This enables us to achieve more reduction of CO2 emissions by making use of sustainable materials to prevent railroad malfunction and damage.”
The ICT sector should reduce more emissions by focusing on mobility. This statement was made by Frits Wuts, advisor CO2 Performance Ladder of ICT Group, shareholder and parent company of InTraffic. “If you take a look at sustainability in the ICT sector, you see plenty of initiatives. For example, software programs that help make buildings become more energy efficient and smart grids that make green electricity accessible to entire neighborhoods”, he says. “However, more action needs to be taken when it comes to mobility. The fleet of many organizations are the leading cause of CO2 emissions. That is why ICT Group started with leasing electric vehicles and stimulating its employees to travel by public transportation or by bicycles. Technology that allows employees to work from home and attend teleconferences also contribute to reduction of emissions.”
By taking these measures, ICT Group managed to reduce its emissions. “In 2011 we had 4.000 tons of CO2 and now we have 3.500 tons of CO2 emissions. The amount of emissions per employee has decreased from 6,5 tons to 5,2 tons of CO2. This is a reduction of 20 percent. During the same period, we also hired more employees, which leads to an increase in the amount of leased cars that are used by our employees”, Wuts says. “Despite the growth of employees, the CO2 emissions of the organization did not increase. This is made possible by renewable electricity and sustainable heating options. These measures have also contributed in the reduction of our CO2 footprint.”
Investing in sustainability
For both InTraffic and ICT Group, the CO2 Performance Ladder is an investment in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. “Smarter Cities, Smarter Industries and Smarter Healthcare are themes of ICT in which sustainability and CSR are becoming more and more important. Regulations such as the obligatory energy audits for all office branches of ICT Group is also an important factor in realizing the possibilities of energy savings.”
Lamers: “Sustainability is naturally more than CO2 reduction alone, but the CO2 Performance Ladder helps us define what is relevant for us and for other corporations in terms of sustainability. Moreover, the CO2 Performance Ladder is useful in tendering processes. Commissioning parties that make use of the ladder, such as ProRail and Rijkswaterstaat, provide certified organizations with an award advantage. When we refer to the CO2 Performance Ladder, our chances at winning the projects will be improved. CSR and sustainability are main aspects of our business at InTraffic, which is why CO2 reduction is essential. The implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder provides us with a firm grip on how to structurally reduce our emissions and it leads to economic advantage. The CO2 Performance Ladder therefore affects our business and society.”