Photo credit (banner): Yann Audic

SNCF’s Rolling Stock Division is creating tomorrow’s maintenance today, with innovations that reinvent your mobility experience—as well as working conditions for the specialists in our Technicentres. Find out how. 

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Transforming our Technicentres with Industry 4.0 technologies

We’re modernizing our heavy maintenance centres, transforming them into Industry 4.0 facilities with connectivity, robotics, physical assistance technologies and 3D printing to produce parts.

These innovations make your journey more comfortable and improve on-time arrival. But they also enhance safety and performance for our employees, who are the heart of our effort to transform SNCF.

450 million euros invested in our 10 Technicentres

Supporting our employees with new physical assistance technologies

At SNCF, protecting the health and safety of our employees is a top priority. Which is why the Rolling Stock Division is developing new physical assistance technologies for our maintenance operations.

Increasingly, our employees are using exoskeletons, autonomous robots and drones to handle the most basic, most punishing and most dangerous tasks—with the added benefit of making some of our maintenance activities more productive.

Exoskeletons

The primary goal of our Industry 4.0 effort is to make work less punishing for our employees. In partnership with Ergosanté Technologie Shiva Exo, we’ve developed a multifunctional exoskeleton and have been testing it since 2018.  

Maintenance work can make especially heavy demands on the neck, arms and core, and the exoskeleton protects these key areas, keeping employees healthy by helping them carry heavy parts and handling objects that weigh up to 15 kg.

Drones

To make our maintenance operations more agile, we’re using drones to inspect train roofs remotely. In the past, this task was carried out in person on the roof of each train: working with drones not only makes the work less punishing, but significantly reduces down time for our rolling stock.

We can now inspect a train roof in just one hour, down from a full day under the traditional method.

#DIGITALSNCF - Drone, des données en temps réel pour une maintenance plus agile

Autonomous robots

In our Industry 4.0 facilities, rails, pits and overhead cranes are a thing of the past. Self-guided electric trucks position the trains, and autonomous robots deliver parts to our operators.

Robots are now part of the daily routine for employees at our operations sites, reducing the number of repetitive tasks, improving working conditions and optimizing our operating processes.

Film Innovation - Usine du futur

Putting people at the heart of Industry 4.0

While physical assistance technologies can support our maintenance operators, they can never replace their expertise: our employees continue to be the heart of SNCF’s Industry 4.0 transformation. Using their finely-honed knowledge of rolling stock, they manage our robots and explore ideas for collaborative innovation in our FabLabs.

Cobots

Cobots—collaborative robots that work with humans—are now being used in select SNCF Technicentres as part of new maintenance processes involving interaction between people and machines.

For example, some cobots assist in sanding old parts that need restoration. In this case, the cobot doesn’t work on its own—it needs operator guidance. Our employees decide how much sanding is required, based on part type, amount of wear, and their own professional judgment.

SNCF FabLabs and additive manufacturing

SNCF Group has a total of five FabLabs—Fabrication Laboratories where our employees can invent new tools and share, test and realize ideas, using 3D printers and laser cutting machines to innovate together and develop new techniques. These include additive manufacturing, which relies on 3D printing to replace certain materials and tools.

How the digital revolution is transforming our industry

Keeping pace with the digital revolution means taking an innovative approach to maintaining our rolling stock. With predictive maintenance and remote diagnostics, we’re incorporating new big data technologies to stay ahead of rolling stock breakdowns. 

IOT sensors

Predictive maintenance begins with IOT (Internet of Things) sensors. We embed them in your train, and they transmit real-time data that enables us monitor the condition of our rolling stock at all times. 

Connected trains also take performance to a whole new level. With remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance, we can foresee when equipment is likely to fail, anticipate breakdowns and adopt more efficient maintenance processes.

Le télédiagnostic et la maintenance prédictive chez SNCF

Digital twinning

By 2023, we want to reinvent every one of our heavy-maintenance Technicentres—rethinking traffic patterns, reducing shipping distances for parts and supplies, and more.

To achieve these goals, we’re using “digital twinning,” a form of 3D-modelling derived from Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology. It enables our specialists to immerse themselves in an environment before it’s built, using virtual visualization to:

  • finalize building design
  • decide how to position machinery inside
  • project employee movements