The Telecetera Team has recently been involved in a European wide programme called Strategic Alliance boosting Railway SMEs (STARS). The STARS programme has been running for two years and culminated in an end of project presentation and review with all the European Railway Clusters, including the UK Cluster, headed up by the University of Birmingham.
It started back in July when Telecetera was invited to join the UK Cluster. With European wide Rail challenges including data, sensors and IoT, APIs and integration, cyber security, and many other technological challenges and opportunities, we were ideally suited to offering up our expertise and experience to projects within this programme.
After an introductory 121 to the programme by Prof Robert Hopkin from the University of Birmingham, I soon had an initial orientation of the clusters, the programme, and its goals.
We then received the thirteen customer challenges and registered our interest in three of these. Telecetera was then selected for one of the Team Challenges. In early September I joined Team 9 on the online hackathon, where the project coordinator reviewed the itinerary and goals of the two-day hackathon. Then the challenge owner, an expert from an Italian Railway manufacturer, set out in great detail their challenge over maintaining wheels sets on their trains. Their main interest was in better exploiting the data being collected from the wheels and the train by onboard IoT sensors and using this data more effectively for Conditioned Based Maintenance (CBM). They were curious of any Machine Learning (ML), or Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools or techniques could be deployed to improve their efficiency and reduce maintenance time and costs. They also wondered if the sensor data could be used to determine any track issues, such as subsidence or wear.
As a team we were able to ask questions and then we soon started working on an idea to exploit the data.
Our submission was registered the next day and then at 17:00 there was a closing Teams call to thank everyone for their support and submissions and a reminder that there was an end of programme review in Brussels on 26th September. I had not travelled internationally on business for quite some time and jumped at the chance of meeting other European Rail Clusters and their respective expert SMEs and Rail customers.
On 25th September 2023 I travelled to London (by train of course!) then onwards to Brussels by Eurostar, arriving in my accommodation in time to join a Teams call to find out who the winner of the STARS competition was. It was Team 11! Congratulations to them! They then ran through their presentation, which laid out the problem, the impact, and their solution very clearly. I saw the quality of the content and now have a better understanding of WDGLL (What Does Good Look Like).
I hope to make a more positive contribution to the next round of Rail Challenges, which will be via the next programme already being ramped up.
One of the recommendations specifically mentioned this quote from the project report:
Suddenly I realised why Prof Robert had invited me in. This sector, as with all sectors we support, is digitising rapidly and innovating daily, but is subject to Cyber Security risks. Mainly accidental, but vulnerabilities are being introduced into systems and data is unencrypted or available at end points and APIs that should be either hidden or locked down and security more effectively.
A short train journey from Brussels-Nord station to Antwerp and €18 later I was in this beautiful city centre catching up with old friends.
A 45 minute journey back to Brussels-Midi and a walk around the station to the Eurostar terminal and I was soon on my way back to Blighty.
The weather was stunning, meaning I could pack light and travel fast.
I have followed the many European SMEs that I met, and I am confident that the Telecetera Team will be supporting projects that will need oursoftware engineering, visualisation, integration & cyber security expertise.
If you would like to find out more about our involvement in the STARS programme, please contact us using the contact form below.