Business insights

Technology to meet current and future operational challenges

Technology to meet current and future operational challenges

Jochen Decker, CIO at Swiss Federal Railways, spotlights the great success in sustainability achieved thanks to significant investment in technologies that have enabled remarkable energy savings and a new approach to mobility that includes innovative opportunities for end-customers and forward-thinking operations.

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Swiss Federal Railways’ continued success in sustainability is based on new technologies that help introduce a new approach to customers and revolutionize the future of transport.

Will sustainability be the key factor for the success of railway transportation? If so, which are the elements that drive the revolution of passenger mobility? If not, what do you think will be the main success factors?

Sustainability has been and will continue to be a key success factor for SBB. Rail is the most energy efficient mode of transport in Switzerland and produces the least CO2 per km.
Although SBBs’ operations are already a role model for sustainability, we strive to improve our ecological footprint. It isJochen Decker, CIO at Swiss Federal Railways one of our goals to become climate neutral. This means improving energy efficiency, the use of 100% renewable energies and CO2 compensation. SBB aims to save 850 GWh by 2030, this corresponds to one third of its current energy consumption or the electricity consumption of 212.000 households.
One key step to achieve this is decoupling increasing transportation demand from power supply. With our peak management, we use more intelligence instead of more physical assets to cope with extreme power peaks by managing loads like heaters, cooling or traction power. Our peak management system was awarded the Watt d'Or 2022 (category energy technology) by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.
Our continued success in sustainability is based on new technologies. IT is playing an important role in helping us become carbon neutral. Intelligent use of IT drives energy efficiency. With “Adaptive Steering” (ADL) we developed an innovative solution that saves energy. The ADL system calculates optimal driving recommendations and automatically transmits these to the train driver in real time. It supports the driver in selecting the driving strategy best suited to the current operating situation, enables smooth operation and saves energy by avoiding signal stops. With ADL, SBB saves 72 GWh of power per year (equal to the annual energy consumption of the city of Fribourg with its 38,000 inhabitants).

Railway is more and more digital: could you please describe the main recent technologies and the approach that will revolutionize the future of transportation?

We use technology to meet current and future operational challenges and thus to keep the core of the railroad under control. With our technology management we systematically evaluate new technologies to identify opportunities for our customers and our operations. On the other hand, our core systems must provide secure and reliable services. Therefore, we can only implement technologies that live up to the high operational standards of SBB. We do have advanced technologies like drones, 3D-printing, AI etc. but only mobile and cloud-based technologies have made a widespread breakthrough in our production. Mobile technologies have already revolutionized how our customers interact with us and they have improved our operations. As for operations: in 2016, every employee was given a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) and a user account. This was a key enabler to further digitalize processes and workflows within the company. For example, our field workers receive data, manuals, tasks etc. on their mobile devices and paper-based processes have been eliminated almost entirely. Workflows and information are becoming more and more real time. Even train drivers receive the required information on their tablet computers in real time (see ADL). This means that the comfort of our customers and operational efficiency are being enhanced simultaneously.

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Francesco Moretti - Fincons Group Francesco Moretti

Fincons Group

Group Deputy CEO and CEO International