For its virtual engineering platform project, the world leader in rail transport has surrounded itself with the foremost specialists, including Bull Amesys, who is responsible for an innovative on-board ‘telepresence’ solution.
Dividing its business activity between aerospace on the one hand, and rail passenger transport on the other, Canadian corporation Bombardier is constantly innovating to extend its range of products and services to support ‘The evolution of mobility’ for people worldwide. As a result, Bombardier has made massive investments in development, to stay at the leading edge in terms of solutions as well as technological excellence. To achieve this, the company has surrounded itself with a series of expert partners, with convergent interests, such as Bull Amesys who is involved in one of the corporation’s flagship projects: the Train of the Future.
The Train of the Future was born at the turn of this decade, when the North American division of Bombardier, BTNA, decided to create a virtual engineering and modeling platform that would allow it to optimize the development of future trains. Launched with the aid of regional tax incentive from the Canadian government, the project, which is set to last some five to ten years, had initially a very broad remit. The Train of the Future is a global strategy designed to accelerate the development of trains and improve quality through the use of virtualization and related tools.
“Above all, our priority was to bring together the right skill-sets so that we could together refine our vision, and gradually develop the tools that we feel would be useful,” explains Jacques Belley, Director of R&D and Innovation at Bombardier Transport North America (BTNA). Around a research and technology liaison and transfer center, Bombardier brought together a number of specialist partners, including Bull Amesys with its extensive technology portfolio: modeling, telecoms expertise, expertise in on-board data acquisition systems…
Tangible results already being achieved
With the project only just entering its third year, measurable results are already being recorded. Modeling and virtual bench tests will enable the validation and testing of components and vehicle architectures to be undertaken, to ensure they are as close as possible to reality. However, it is also vital to be able to base research on real data, and to do this Bull Amesys has developed an intelligent device that can be fixed in position at the front of the train to provide a virtual on-board presence, and to transmit even the smallest pieces of information about how the system is behaving to the company’s experts, especially at any stretches of the track where the train particularly at risk. The virtual solution offering telepresence, and remote testing, diagnostics and remote support, has been successfully integrated into the next generation of underground trains for the Montreal subway.
The Train of the Future has also spawned other projects, such as an integration solution for electrical design tools that will make the work of Bombardier’s engineers in this complex field significantly easier. Another tool enables the possible costs of different technical options to be evaluated, thus optimizing design decisions.
From the start of this project, the partners have worked in very close collaboration. Each partner mobilizes its resources not just in a business relationship, but in a true spirit of cooperation and with a shared desire for success. “Bull Amesys has adapted perfectly to this way of operating, and there is a very agreeable working environment between us: one that is dynamic and also conducive to innovation. Over and above its advanced technical expertise, Bull Amesys has shown huge flexibility, knowing how to adapt to the changing nature of the project and always mobilizing the right resources at the right time,” Jacques Belley stresses.
An award-winning innovation project
In November 2012, this innovative collective approach enable Bombardier and its Train of the Future project to win the Open Innovation Prize (Prix Innovation Ouverte), from the Quebec Association for the Development of Research and Innovation (ADRIQ). “This accolade is the reward for our partnership-based approach to R&D. For us, it represents an opening up to outside expertise and a key to success for innovative projects. It will help to inspire the teams working on the project and boost the potential for development even further,” adds a delighted Jacques Belley.
Over the coming years, the Train of the Future project is set to continue on this successful track, with the prospect of new areas for development such as the lean technologies and components designed to save energy.
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