Image: courtesy Siemens Mobility

DB Cargo and Siemens sign to deliver digital programme

German rail freight heavyweight DB Cargo has signed a deal with Siemens to help ensure it delivers on its ambitious locomotive fleet digitalisation programme.

The company says it has made ‘substantial progress’ with the project, as it moves towards its stated goal of fitting 2,000 locomotives with new diagnostic technology by 2020. Already nearly 1,000 of its hi-tech locomotives, which are in active service around Europe, provide information about the engine’s condition.

Diagnostic capabilities

Now DB has signed a six-year contract with Siemens to upgrade its existing class 152 electric mainline locos, and transform them into what DB calls ‘TechLOKs’. Class 170 and 191 Vectron locomotives from Siemens will also have similar diagnostic capabilities.

Based on those telematics units installed in locomotives, DB Cargo uses the TechLOK system to collect, visualise and process diagnostic and constantly generated sensor, no matter where they are in Europe. This information enables the company to make further improvements to its daily operations, and it also forms the basis for approaches towards condition-based, predictive maintenance. In contrast to the current, conventional approach of performing maintenance mileage or time based, locomotives will now be maintained when the data shows that this is necessary. DB Cargo says this means the company can continue to increase vehicle availability, transport quality and savings.

Operational knowledge

Dr. Jürgen Wilder, CEO at DB Cargo, said: “Our fleet digitalisation activities have one main focus: further improvements in quality for our customers and optimisation of the vehicle value chain. The TechLOK system already comprises almost 1,000 locomotives operating on international routes. The deal we have now signed with Siemens and especially the connection of operational knowledge with the knowledge of the vehicle manufacturer ensures that we will keep speed towards our project goals.”

The contract covers both connecting locomotives using the TechLOK system and joint activities on developing data analytics models based on the technical insight the locomotive sensors provide. This will result in new algorithms and technical rules to maintain locomotives more flexible and make them more condition-based.

Strategic relevance

Experts from Siemens and DB Cargo will also work together at Deutsche Bahn’s Asset und Maintenance Digital Lab in Frankfurt am Main. Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Rail Service Business at Siemens, added, “This long-term partnership with Deutsche Bahn is of strong strategic relevance to Siemens. Linking data analytics with locomotive specific knowledge allows us to support Deutsche Bahn on its path towards digitalisation as well as the overall target to improve asset availability.”

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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