Mobility Services: In the pit lane

Service experts from Mobility Services are active all over the world. Using innovative solutions, they look after the maintenance of all kinds of transport systems and technology – always with the goals of long-term efficiency and profitability in mind. Countless examples demonstrate the enormous diversity of maintenance tasks.

Since mobility is growing ever-more complex, transport operators are increasingly focusing on their core business of transporting people and goods, while leaving the planning, implementation and monitoring of the required technology to expert service partners. This is why Siemens has set up its Mobility Service operation to offer comprehensive service packages that ensure the availability of transport systems throughout their entire life cycle – from testing and commissioning at Siemens testing centers to maintenance, complete replacement parts management, repairs and service-life extension through to the modification and modernization of older systems. With this goal in mind, Siemens service technicians gather a broad range of electronic data: sensors, control units and cameras collect operating and environmental data and values – primarily from components that are liable to wear and tear.

Predictive instead of corrective – innovative maintenance

Intelligent software analyzes this data to identify trends that are emerging across various projects. This allows sources of error to be detected early and appropriate maintenance measures to be taken. Moreover, data mining provides the basis for predictive service,  where signs of wear can be detected before the part in question even reaches a critical condition. In practice, this means the service engineers replace or repair parts precisely when it makes sense, rather than as a routine measure after a defined period. This guarantees the operator a high level of operational safety and maximum availability, while keeping service costs low. What is more, the maintenance measures can be precisely planned: when a train rolls into the depot the replacement parts are ready and waiting.

Bangkok: complete service for Skytrain and subway

This does not mean that the classic workshop service has become a thing of the past. Take the example of the Thai capital Bangkok, which has three of the world’s most cutting-edge transport systems – the Green Line (known as the Skytrain), the underground Blue Line and the Airport Rail Link. Siemens was not only responsible for constructing these systems: it has maintained the 33-kilometer Skytrain line, the 35 air-conditioned metro trains, the signaling equipment, the control center facilities and the power supply. The maintenance of the subway in central Bangkok also covers practically the entire system, including the automatic fare collection (AFC) system, the entire rolling stock, the depot and workshop equipment, signaling technology, power supply, the 432 platform doors, the track work and third rail system, the fault reporting center, purchasing, logistics, warehouse management and more.

Made to measure: service concepts for Russia and Spain

Often the responsibilities of the Siemens Service team and the customer’s employees are closely interlinked, as demonstrated by the service concepts developed for the Velaro high-speed trains in Russia and Spain.


In Russia, for instance, the Russian version of the Velaro, known as Sapsan, has been in operation since 2009. Each train making the 650-kilometer trip between Moscow and St. Petersburg clocks up 400,000 kilometers per year and must be properly serviced in the newly built Metallostroy depot near St. Petersburg (see como 9/2012) in order to maintain availability of over 98 percent. It goes without saying that predictive maintenance plays a major role here. All maintenance activities are planned, carried out and monitored using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). A Charter Rail contract governs a close partnership with the railway operator RŽD.

The picture in Spain is similar: since 2008 the maintenance and cleaning of the 26 Spanish Velaro E high-speed trains and the maintenance of the workshops have been carried out by NERTUS, a joint venture with the Spanish rail operator RENFE. To ensure that operations run smoothly and that the trains can continue attaining record speeds of over 300 km/h, employees work in three shifts around the clock, 365 days a year. In addition, Siemens has upgraded existing depots, for example by installing modern equipment that allows bogies underneath the trains to be changed within a few hours. These days the CMMS is used to manage all these maintenance tasks, and the availability of Spain’s Velaro trains stands at almost 100 percent. This significantly aids punctuality, which is surely one reason why the high-speed train has overtaken the airplane as the preferred mode of travel between Madrid and Barcelona.

Great Britain: pit stop for trains and traffic lights

Meanwhile, in the UK, it is clear that service for rail and road transport have quite a lot in common. Here Siemens Rail Services carries out the maintenance tasks for the almost 400 Desiro regional trains and other manufacturers’ trains using the pit stop principle, almost like in modern motor racing: if a sensor reports that certain components are showing abnormal values, these parts are immediately replaced the next time the train stops at a depot. This greatly reduces the time the trains have to spend in the depot, and the Siemens trains regularly receive awards for their outstanding reliability and availability.

The capital London also relies on service-friendly Siemens technology for road transport: a toll zone helps reduce congestion in the city center; observation and control systems provide online data for traffic management; intelligent lighting systems cut energy use and costs. This recently gave the Manchester transport authority the idea of awarding the new service contract for its traffic routing center based on some different criteria. Whereas the conditions were previously linked to the reaction time when service is required, the new contract places the focus on energy efficiency and reliability, demanding 97.7 percent availability for the traffic light systems. Siemens replaced approximately 20,000 conventional lights with energy-saving LEDs and replaced 600 older control units. The traffic light fault rate quickly fell by 30 percent. This, combined with the lower energy costs, allowed Transport for Greater Manchester to make high six-figure savings.

smartGuard: traffic management in the cloud

If an operator wants to rent transport management software rather than purchasing it, Siemens Road Services offers a smart alternative called Application Service Providing (ASP). With smartGuard, a Web-based add-on for the Sitraffic Scala traffic control system, traffic management employees can call up the Sitraffic Scala functions using a web browser and a private cloud. This allows them to directly access traffic light systems, detectors and car park management, giving them a complete overview of their entire system in a few mouse clicks. The central smartGuard server receives its data from the Scala system of the relevant city, but it is located at the Siemens Service Center in Munich. Security is extremely high: users log in using a password and require a single-use PIN to complete actions, as with online banking. smartGuard is currently being put to the test in a pilot project in Karlsruhe.


Measures such as these noticeably curb spending on the maintenance of transport technology and infrastructure. Life-cycle costs are sinking, profitability is on the rise. Looking at the bottom line, there are only benefits for all sides.


Eberhard Buhl

Picture credits: Siemens AG / Video: Siemens AG


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