Railnova – Fleet Telematics Case Study
Custom-made railway specific telematics and GPS platform for full control and visibility.
Large providers were inflexible with a young company.
Continuous, reliable M2M connectivity across continents, even in areas of poor coverage.
Fleet management is vital for the railway industry. Unfortunately, effective railway fleet management is complicated by strict regulations and a lack of component standardization. Railnova has developed a comprehensive railway fleet management solution that works across technology standards to benefit all players in the railway industry. As a leading technology company that provides telematics, hardware and software solutions, Railnova fully understands all of the obstacles and difficulties their customers face and has created a solution to meet the needs of a transforming railway industry.
Christian Sprauer, founder and CEO of Railnova, started the company in October 2010 and since then it has been providing cutting-edge solutions for the railway industry throughout Europe. Railnova’s premier product, the Railster UG, is a custom-made railway specific telematics and GPS platform solution with exceptional GPS functionality, revolutionary connectivity, continuous performance, easy installation and removal, and future-proof capabilities. Railnova’s Railfleet Software utilizes the data gathered by the Railster UG and gives customers full control and visibility of their fleets. The Railster UG features real-time tracking and exact positioning and can also detect events such as departures, arrivals, and timetable delays. Engine hours, fuel consumption and component fault codes can also all be measured and transmitted. In order to be able to report this information accurately, a secure, reliable data connection is indispensable. According to Sprauer, the railway industry faces a complete lack of component standardization, meaning that a wide variety of sensor technologies have been developed to suit each different component type. This lack of standardization paired with strict electronics and device production regulations make Railnova’s objective of getting their product to market even more challenging than their freight fleet counterparts. For that reason, they need a fully agnostic data connectivity solution that will work with all the various component standards, making the rollout of their product as quick and efficient as possible.
Railnova needed data SIM cards to insert into the Railster UG to transmit approximately 200 fields of data to their servers and also use GPS for monitoring operations. ‘We wanted to get a grip on the full chain of data transmission, from capturing the fieldbus information on the train to sending it through GPRS, to managing message queues and front end display on our web servers,’ Sprauer says. When looking for a data connectivity provider in July 2011, Railnova spoke to several European companies, including Pod Group. ‘When I first spoke to Charles Towers-Clark (Managing Director of Pod Group), I had ascertained it was a flexible and knowledgeable company in its field. Some of our suppliers advised against taking a third party and insisted on staying with a premier operator. We were a small company at that time and had nothing to lose, especially as incumbent telcos were also refusing to do business with our six-month-old company,’ explains Sprauer. ‘I spoke to Charles one evening and we were testing the SIMs the day after.’ Compared to other SIM card providers, Sprauer says Pod Group was, ‘Unbeatable.’ ‘We stopped there and bought the cards.’
Railnova uses Pod Group’s Best Signal Multi-Network SIM, which connects to the strongest signal as soon as the device is turned on. Because there is no ‘steering’ on the Home Location Register (HLR), the SIM will automatically connect to the next available network if it loses signal on one network. Multiple networks are covered in each country, which means the trains can pass through multiple countries and poor coverage areas with no disruption to the connection. ‘The Best Signal Multi-Network SIM was a product that really fit our needs, with a flat fee and clear extra usage pricing. We can transmit a lot of data within a fixed price to our end customers, which is crucial,’ says Sprauer. Railnova not only needed a flexible solution but also one that they could control. ‘Pod Group was attractive in the sense they had a tighter control and transparency over the SIM cards,’ Sprauer says. The Pod IoT Suite SIM management platform allows for granular control of data limits, activations, alerts and connectivity status on all SIMs, including real-time data, location, and billing information. Despite the complexity of railway systems and devices, user software needs to be as easy to use as possible. The ability for Railnova to link their custom-made front-end system with Pod Group’s back-end system (via our API) provides a better user experience for their customers. Pod Group’s flexible packages with fixed-rate pricing, resilient connectivity and intuitive management platform mean that Railnova have a solution that ticks all their boxes.