How big is the rail industry in the U.S.?
The seven national Class I railways, 21 regional systems and 510 local rail companies oversee approximately 140,000 miles of track in the U.S. while the industry employs 221,000. While railroad operators do in fact invest in new capital equipment, “the majority of this investment is for upkeep to ensure a state of good repair,” says the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2014, rail oil spills hit a record in the U.S.
Put another way, this an industry that has to manage valuable, but aging, assets in real time across a broad geographic region.
These factors also underpin why OSIsoft has entered into an alliance with LILEE Systems. In a few short years, LILEE, founded by alumni from some of Silicon Valley's largest companies, has emerged as a leader in ruggedized IoT gateways and software for trains and trackside systems. We are working together to embed a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) connector for transferring data from LILEE's technology to the PI System. The COTS connector could, for example, transfer data regarding speed, acceleration, vibration or other parameters to technicians in centralized control centers so they can get a deeper, real-time picture of what's happening and take corrective action.
Behold the company's LMS-2450 gateway below.
The alliance will also help our customers meet their obligations under Positive Train Control (PTC), a federal mandate to encourage the development and deployment of technology to reduce accidents and human error. According to the Association of American Railroads, U.S. freight carriers have already invested over $7.9 billion and are investing approximately $100 million a month to achieve the goals of PTC.
Expect to see more announcements regarding the PI System and IoT gateways. It's a natural fit: manufacturers and large industrial customers are gathering more data than ever and they want to view it all in one place so they can make the right decisions. Last month, we announced alliances with Dell, Arrow Electronics, B+B SmartWorx Powered by Advantech, ADLINK/PrismTech and RtTech Software around gateways. (RtTech has also provided details on how IoT gateways helped Canadian conglomerate J.D. Irving harvest data from previously stranded assets.).
Dell has also shown how IoT gateways can be used to manage micro-modular data centers, a fast-growing category in a fast-growing market. Expect to see more at Dell World next month on this.