ST. LOUIS; April 18, 2005 – Metro St. Louis is partnering with Accenture to develop a pioneering system that could shape the future of fleet vehicle maintenance.
The system, known as Predictive Monitoring, uses sensors and statistical analysis in a pilot project aimed at forecasting bus equipment failures before they occur. It marks the first such project in the public transit industry.
“This represents a significant leap forward in the field of business intelligence,” said Bob Suh, Accenture’s chief technology strategist. “Today, most businesses and organizations are focused on analyzing data to better understand the past. Predictive monitoring shifts the orientation by capturing data in real time and using the information to predict business events early enough to take action.”
For instance, bus fleet operators such as Metro St. Louis, which owns and operates the city’s public transportation system, could cut costs and improve system-wide performance by reducing vehicle failures and enhancing maintenance schedules.
Under the pilot project launched in January, 20 Metro buses have been equipped with sensors that monitor engine and transmission information. The information is stored electronically in data collection boxes installed on the buses. "The data are sent electronically to computers at Accenture Technology Labs for analysis."
Once at the Labs, the information is evaluated by an analytic engine — software that compares a snapshot of the buses’ operational data with an analytic model that reflects “normal” operating behavior. When the software identifies potential issues, it automatically notifies Metro St. Louis maintenance personnel via e-mails, pages or website alerts. Metro can then determine how to react, performing maintenance at an appropriate time to minimize service disruption and costs. The system is more accurate and sensitive than other approaches, identifying deviations and operating anomalies in the engines and transmissions before costly problems occur.
The pilot project has already yielded results that underscore the system’s potential. For example, it provided advanced warning that one bus had an overheating hydraulic retarder, a part of the transmission system. While the problem was not severe or dangerous, the early detection could prevent a minor problem from growing into a costly repair.
“We’re a progressive transit organization committed to enhancing passenger convenience,” said Dianne Williams, Director of Communications for Metro St. Louis. “While our maintenance facilities are recognized to be among the best in the country, there’s always room for improvement. We are enthusiastic about the pilot project’s early results.”
In addition to reducing vehicle failures and maintenance expenses, predictive monitoring can also extend vehicle life by customizing, for each vehicle, the intervals between scheduled maintenance and overhauls. “By performing maintenance on each bus when needed, the life of the bus and parts can be extended, which decreases the overall cost of ownership,” said Baiju Shah, who directs Accenture Technology Lab’s Predictive Insight practice.
When the pilot is completed later this spring, Metro St. Louis will determine if it plans to go forward with the fleet-wide rollout. Accenture plans to package and sell the system to other transit organizations.
“The technology has shown exceptional results in other industries, including power generation, aviation, and chemicals,” said Shah. Added Tom Dutton, Director of IT Operations Systems of Metro St. Louis: “We hope to enjoy similar results. We’re very excited about the long-term benefits we could realize with predictive monitoring.”
“This is another example where Accenture Technology Labs has turned an emerging technology trend into a source of value for our clients” said Suh, “If an organization can predict the future and act on it, they can achieve levels of performance that were simply not possible before.”
Supporting Metro St. Louis and Accenture on the project are technology partners SmartSignal Corporation for data analytics, Orbcomm for satellite service and Quake Global for sensor translation.
About Metro St. Louis
Metro St. Louis provides the St. Louis region with "regional economic development through excellence in transportation." Metro owns and operates the St. Louis metropolitan public transportation system - a multi-modal network that includes MetroLink, MetroBus and Metro Call-A-Ride para-transit van service. Metro also owns and operates the Gateway Arch tram system, ticketing and reservation center, the Arch Parking Garage, the Gateway Arch Riverboats and St. Louis Downtown Airport. Its fleet of 433 MetroBuses carried over 100,000 daily passengers, and traveled 16.7 million revenue miles in FY2004. Metro St. Louis has 2,300 employees. Its home page is www.metrostlouis.org.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 110,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$13.67 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2004. Its home page is www.accenture.com.