Case study

Using drones to make our railroads safer

The U.S. railroad industry has one of the most sprawling and immensely critical pieces of infrastructure in North America. When failures or other issues occur, maintenance is highly manual and primarily reactive. When a failure is identified, a maintenance crew must be physically deployed to correct the problem. These maintenance corrections take time, causing delays and potentially large penalties for the railroad operator due to unmet SLAs, loss of productivity or other contracted stipulations between the industry and its customers.
These penalties can range from thousands to millions of dollars for unexpected downtime scenarios. Consequently, both the operations and business sides of the industry suffer the high costs associated with reactive maintenance. As the railroad and shipping industries continue to see decreased margins and increased regulation, it is critical to reduce excess costs and increase efficiency to stay competitive in the marketplace.

From reactive to proactive

Due to regulations, safety requirements and lack of real-time data across its vast infrastructure, the U.S. railroad industry has historically been forced to follow a reactive maintenance strategy. This approach has a number of significant challenges, primarily around the cost of mobilizing parts and labor, as well as the direct and indirect effects of equipment being down or unnecessarily unavailable. But, there is a transformation occurring within the U.S. railroad industry; one that is moving from a predominantly reactive operating model to one that is forward-looking and proactive.