Scott Nelson, Senior Product Manager of GE Transportation’s Digital Solutions, discusses how GE’s GoLINC platform is helping define a new standard for managing data, which is leading to better train operations.
I’ve been with GE for a long time, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend a big part of this past year working on an exciting project unlike any other I’ve experienced in 22 years. It actually keeps me up at night thinking about its potential.
I know…I know… this is software for freight locomotives, how exciting can it be? The thing is – digital innovations are changing the face of our hundred-year-old industry. The project I’ve been a part of is so exciting because it is such a radical departure from the traditional methods of retrieving data from a train, for remote downloading, tracking, alerting, and monitoring.
It all starts with GoLINC™ – a product of GE’s investment in the Industrial Internet and Predix™. It is essentially a network, communication and application management platform that turns any locomotive into a Mobile Data Center. It’s been referred to as the “brain of the train” and it is installed on more than 6K locomotives today. GoLINC interfaces with both on-board and off-board, GE, customer and partner systems to create a powerful edge-to-cloud enabled device. One such critical system that GoLINC interfaces with is the Locomotive Data Acquisition Recording System (LDARS)
If you’re a rail fan like me – no doubt you’ve heard a lot of talk about LDARS lately. As we all know – talking is the easy part. At GE – we want to be what we do – not what we say we’ll do.
LDARS is – at its most simplistic level - a crash hardened memory for FRA, PTC and video data. It isn’t exciting in and of itself – but that’s where our new GoLINC Data Optimizer comes in – and my sleepless nights. The GoLINC Data Optimizer is a new, forward-thinking technology that is defining a new standard in collection, processing, and management of that data. Let’s face it. Today’s locomotives are generating more data than ever and far more data than can be economically off-boarded - hence decisions have to be made concerning the storage and extraction of what matters most.
The core of the GoLINC Data Optimizer is a common Predix-based business rules processing engine with instances both on-board and off-board. The rules engine provides configurable, logical processing of data. Every action starts with a rule. The system includes a powerful graphical rules editor to create, edit, and manage the rules. Up until now, functions like a periodic GPS location message, a train handling alert, or an automated event recorder download would be hard-coded by the vendor. There might be some configurability to thresholds and message timing, but the underlying function had to be built into a software release. Not anymore.
With GoLINC Data Optimizer, these functions can be built by the end user. Rules can be enabled for off-board processing, on-board processing, or both. They can be applied to one locomotive or many. Once enabled, rules can drive messages, remote downloads, and other actions. Customizable. Modular. The way you want it.
Stay tuned in the weeks ahead to learn more about our GoLINC platform, GoLINC Data Optimizer and other exciting apps that are changing the face of rail. In the meantime, I may be stuck counting sheep (or horses, for those who know me!) at night – but it’s so exciting that I don’t even want to sleep like a baby anymore.
Scott Nelson is a Senior Product Manager, GE Transportation’s Digital Solutions