HS2 plans digital 'predict and prevent' maintenance


HS2 Ltd has promised a 'predict and prevent' approach to asset maintenance, utilising digital twins, sensors, artificial intelligence for data analysis and virtual reality inspections.

Following National Highways' promise last year to build a digital twin of the road network in the decades ahead, HS2 Ltd has pledged that its own digital twin, combined with sensors, will be key to preventing service issues on the high speed rail network.

Head of strategic planning and asset management David White said: 'With HS2’s digital twin-based predict and prevent approach to maintenance we have the ability to prevent failures and replace assets when the system indicates a decline in performance – as opposed to relying on a rolling programme of asset replacement.

'Harnessing the power of the digital twin and its predictive capability could see an asset’s operational life extended by months or even years.

'We will create new tools through the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies to maintain and enhance the skills of our maintenance and station teams.'

As advanced computer programmes prepare the designs for the high speed line, the data produced will both inform the construction of HS2 and build the railway’s digital twin, a virtual reality 3D replica that will be as detailed as the real thing.

Building on this foundation, during HS2’s construction 'thousands of remote condition monitoring sensors, similar to those used in Formula One and aviation, will be built into the physical line’s infrastructure', HS2 Ltd said.

The sensors will act as a central nervous system covering assets including the rails, bridges and overhead power lines.

These sensors will monitor the performance of the railway’s assets to predict failure with the data transmitted directly to HS2’s Network Integrated Control Centre (NICC) at Washwood Heath, Birmingham.

Engineers and maintenance teams will then analyse the data with the use of artificial intelligence to monitor asset performance trends.

A downward trend will trigger HS2’s 'predict and prevent' maintenance programme but before anyone is sent to site, engineers will use virtual reality headsets to investigate issues from the safety of the NICC.

The technology will enable maintenance teams to understand issues and in some cases resolve them without even having to physically go out on location.

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