Photo credit (banner): Laurent Mayeux

Maintenance facility of the future

At SNCF, we’re taking train maintenance to a whole new level. Hellemmes Technicentre, our oldest and largest maintenance facility, has made the leap into Industry 4.0 technology with its new Atelier 57 workshop. Take a virtual tour.

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Our biggest train repair centre

On 15 January 2020, just two years after works began, we inaugurated Atelier 57. This Industry 4.0 workshop has all the latest technology for upgrading trains and is the third next-generation maintenance facility at our Hellemmes Technicentre. Originally built in 1873 to repair steam locomotives, Hellemmes is—and will unquestionably remain—the flagship of French rail know-how. 

On 23 October 2018, the Alliance Industrie du Futur presented two Hellemmes projects with its Vitrine Industrie du Futur (“Showcase for the Industry of the Future”) label. This award recognizes companies that improve their industrial operations by developing innovative technological solutions with practical applications.

Take a tour of Atelier 57.

Atelier 57 d'Hellemmes, ce qui change pour la production

Troubleshooting made easier with smart glasses

At the Hellemmes facility, operators wear smart glasses while carrying out maintenance tasks, so off-site experts can guide them remotely, in real time, and help resolve complex, non-routine problems. Immediate payoff: problems are easier to find and fix.

Optimizing work flow with automated guided vehicles

In the past, we used indoor tracks to move rolling stock around the maintenance facility. No more. Today our technicians use automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems to position decoupled coaches and coach components in the workshop. These revolutionary movers travel on modular surfaces in a space where load-bearing pillars—potential obstacles—are kept to a minimum.

A l'atelier 57 de Hellemmes, les trains circulent sans rail

Sanding with robots

Atelier 57 is also home to a robotic sanding booth, as well as other high-tech booths used to finish the surfaces of our trains.

Inspecting rolling stock with drones

Atelier 57 is highly compact—only half the size of the buildings it replaced—and has a usable height of 12.5 metres, leaving plenty of room for technicians to inspect TGV roofs with drones.

Manual inspections (and construction of the temporary catwalks needed to carry them out) are now a thing of the past. Immediate payoff:

  • maintenance work is less gruelling
  • workers are more efficient. Drone pilots can inspect four to five coaches a day, a sharp increase over one per day under the old system
  • data gathered by drones is more reliable

How data simplifies maintenance

In addition to new technologies such as drones and connected objects, we’re using new data-gathering systems to assess the condition of both trains and track. Aim: Replace corrective maintenance with predictive maintenance, so we can detect the early warning signs of a malfunction.

Data-driven innovations include:

  • LIDAR, a laser-based remote sensing system that can scan any type of infrastructure—from track to bridges to vegetation—and create a 3D map that is accurate to within a few millimetres. Aim: create a “digital twin” of the French rail network, a model that allows us to detect variations and simplify maintenance.
  • the Vibrato smartphone app, used by SNCF train drivers to measure track vibrations in real time. Result: we can respond quickly when anomalies appear in the data.

Learn more about predictive maintenance

Drone, les données en temps réel pour une maintenance plus agile

Where innovation meets sustainability

We simplified design and construction of Atelier 57 by using building information modelling (BIM) technology at every stage of the process. Digital technology also improves technical supervision by opening doors remotely and preheating machines on a programmed schedule.

Atelier 57 is also energy-efficient, complying with the latest standards for new buildings and -generating its own power from a 6,000-sq m solar panel array on the roof.

Meanwhile, high-performance insulation of the building’s envelope—designed to the same standard as private homes and apartments—cuts energy consumption and shrinks its carbon footprint.