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May 2016

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Perspective: Bringing the Locomotive Fleet into the Railroad Internet of Things (IoT)


As Locomotive Modernization and Industrial IoT Experts, ZTR Control Systems provides some insight on the expanding Railroad IoT and how it's benefiting North American railroads. According to Viktor Gvelesiani, ZTR Director of Product Development, "High expectations for emerging technology are dramatically changing and shaping the rail industry. The Internet of Things allows traditionally unconnected equipment, like locomotives, to become very intuitive and deliver the information we need at the right time."

NEXSYS III-i locomotive control system
Source: ZTR Control Systems

These expectations will continue to transform the industry in amazing ways. The most significant and the most amazing things will come from how IoT data is utilized within the industry. Not only the interaction between humans, and computers, but also the interactions between various technologies. The Internet of Things is a popular term that describes how various pieces of technology can interact with each other, provide the right information, at the right time, to make the best decisions possible. "I think this integration of technology and people is going to continue to redefine our industry in ways we haven't even considered yet," Gvelesiani said.

Gvelesiani also explained how previously, railroad knowledge had to be acquired through years of experience: "The expectation was that the operator would know not only what needs to be done, but also how to get the best performance from the equipment. And that required a lot of experience."

"Today," Gvelesiani continued, "when faced with a question, the first thing we do is Google it. Besides that, we now have the Internet in our pockets ready to take our questions at all times. We now expect equipment to be smart and intuitive enough to tell operators how to achieve the best performance and in some cases, even take over control of certain functions automatically."

As technology has evolved for both the consumer and industry markets, railroad technology has evolved too. ZTR Vice-President & General Manager of the Railway Division Matthew Scott, has said, "The rail industry is highly complex and sophisticated.  Technology is critical, and innovative, problem-solving solutions are embraced."

Innovations in "Railroad IoT" provide connectivity, information and fleet management solutions that are bringing the latest technology into rail operations centers worldwide. Combining intelligent locomotive modernization systems and IoT connectivity provides a reliable, end-to-end solution that gives you more than just locomotive upgrades. It can deliver intelligent diagnostics, locomotive health information and operational dashboards throughout an organization.  

The ZTR Railroad IoT solutions have evolved from over 25 years of telematics and railway industry experience, and are fully integrated. ZTR Control Systems brings the fleets of North American Class 1 railroads and many international railways into the realm of Railroad IoT with its advanced diagnostics, remote communication solutions and systems integration. These solutions can drastically improve maintenance planning, performance reporting, remote troubleshooting, connectivity, and fleet efficiency through the following functions:

    •    Real-time Location Tracking – Detailed information about the location of your locomotive or fleet with GPS location monitoring and geo-fencing.

    •    Locomotive Diagnostics and Edge Analytics – Tailored locomotive solutions that can deliver valuable information on the locomotive's health, performance, faults, troubleshooting and usage in a way that's accessible for your business. Diagnostics on your entire fleet can be viewed in one place for more efficient fleet management. 

    •    Management Reporting – ZTR offers a flexible reporting engine that provides easily downloadable or remotely accessible customized reports on locomotive faults, fuel savings, diagnostics, and health information for every locomotive in your fleet. 

    •    Mobile Access – Smart phone applications allow for access to vital information from ZTR-equipped locomotives. Manage mobile alerts about faults, diagnostics and general system notifications for better management of fleet performance and maintenance, anywhere.

    •    Remote Monitoring and Customized Support – The ZTR team provides 24/7 support, remote monitoring and targeted troubleshooting for better locomotive management. Through Web-Services this valuable information can also be passed to your own software management systems.

    •    Integration Options with other Enterprise Systems– Integrating with existing monitoring hardware or bringing information back into your business system is a typical part of completing the end-to-end solution. It's something that ZTR has extensive experience with and can easily accomplish for the best solution for your fleet management. 

These features are integrated into ZTR Control Systems' locomotive modernization products. Some specific products include the NEXSYS III-i locomotive control system, a microprocessor-based system that delivers enhanced reliability, significant locomotive adhesion improvements, integrated AESS technology, and advanced remote locomotive diagnostics through its communication module.   SmartStart, ZTR's after-market start-stop system, also incorporates a SAVER option, providing wireless information about the performance of a SmartStart system. ZTR Control Systems' IoT solutions are supported by its ONEi3 platform, which includes an advanced network platform, cloud-based software, security and other elements to quickly implement a GPS/telematics solution tailored to your business.

Scott reiterates: "The railroads are passionate about what they do, the services they provide, and the equipment they use.  There's a real sense of common purpose amongst the railroads and suppliers to deliver the most efficient and reliable transportation services possible, and to continuously evolve the rail network."  ZTR supports this mutual evolution by combining intelligent locomotive modernization systems with Railroad IoT solutions that help customers improve the performance, efficiency and management of their railroads.

For more about all ZTR Control Systems products, visit
For more on the topic of Rail IoT, search

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