IBM To Power Smart Train System In China

Big Blue's software will control everything from maintenance to scheduling on high-speed rail line.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

March 25, 2009

3 Min Read

IBM is expanding its role in powering smart transportation systems overseas.

Big Blue announced Wednesday that Guangzhou Metro Corp. will use its technology and services to improve its rapid transit system in China. GZ Metro serves more than 2 million passengers daily. IBM will help GZ Metro manage all of its IT and physical assets, including four commuter lines, 60 stations, and about 72 track miles.

Taiwan's High Speed Rail Corp. already uses the software for Taiwan's west coast train network, where trains travel up to 186 mph.

IBM Maximo software powers High Speed Rail's maintenance management information system for asset management, work-order scheduling, project management, inventory management, resources management, purchase management, and application interface. The software helps track and maintain thousands of components in the system, including tracks, railcars, stations, signals, and communications.

Eight High Speed Rail stations use IBM's systems and four more plan to use the software soon. In the last two years, High Speed Rail has served 4.65 million passengers and run 70,915 trains. It boasts an average punctuality rate of 99.15%.

IBM's software sends alarm messages and relays maintenance data and automatically processes and prioritizes work requests. The system integrates work orders for preventative maintenance, corrective maintenance, and repair with scheduling, status updates, and data on maintenance progress to improve efficiency of parts and labor. It has managed more than 10,000 work orders a month for the past three months and supported the flow of documentation for more than 95% of the maintenance hours for the system.

"Organizations like the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation are looking for ways to develop smarter transportation systems in an effort to improve travel while controlling costs for commuters and travelers," Marty Salfen, general manager for IBM's Global Travel & Transportation industry, said in a statement. "Integrating the physical and digital infrastructure to manage IT and assets -- in this case to improve maintenance and repair across the rail system -- helps organizations like the THSRC more intelligently manage their resources for improved operations and customer experience."

In China, the Guangdong provincial government's Five-Year Development Plan aims to make the transportation network into an environmentally friendly, intelligent, digitized system by 2012. GZ Metro signed an agreement with IBM in February to introduce an integrated asset management system, powered by IBM Maximo software, as part of its larger modernization efforts.

GZ Metro currently uses multiple applications and lacks complete visibility for efficiency and prompt service.

"With traffic congestion on the rise in cities across China, it's become critical to build smarter rail systems and governments are investing heavily in these projects," Marc Chapman, IBM's general manager of Global Business Services for greater China, said in a statement.

GZ Metro and IBM are working on an IT platform to manage its software, services, and physical assets for improved safety and prompt service. IBM Global Business Services will build a uniform asset-classification and -coding system for all assets. The company also will integrate operational and financial management throughout the entire life cycle of asset management.

Each year, InformationWeek honors the nation's 500 most innovative users of business technology. Companies with $250 million or more in revenue are invited to apply for the 2009 InformationWeek 500 before May 1.

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