Categories:Press Release

Willow and Strukton Build World’s First Digital Twin for Rail

PostedWillow Team


Willow Rail powered by Strukton provides first of its kind visibility into the everyday workings of a rail networks.

  • Australia’s Rail industry contributes around $26bn a year (1.6% of GDP) to the Australian economy and 140,000 jobs*
  • According to 2017 Australian Census data, train travel was the most common method of public transport in 2016¹ with nearly half a million people (488,000) using it as their sole method of travel to work.
  • The Willow Rail powered by Strukton’ platform enabled with digital twin technology, provides first of its kind visibility into the everyday workings of a rail network, providing valuable predictive, actionable insight into operations including passenger transport and supply chain.

Willow, an Australian digital company in partnership with Strukton Rail, a global leader in rail asset management and maintenance, today launched Willow Rail powered by Strukton, a first of its kind digital platform that can provide rail owners and operators with holistic insight into the assets and operations of an entire rail network, helping to maintain and operate networks at the highest levels of availability for passenger and heavy haul networks.

Unveiled at the InnoTrans, International Trade Fair for Transport Technology in Berlin, Germany, Willow Rail powered by Strukton is the world’s first platform based “digital twin” of a physical rail network, combining Strukton’s extensive domain knowledge in rail networks together with Willow’s expertise in creating a platform enabled by digital twins and ecosystems, to create a single and easy to use platform.

The technology is applicable to all rail networks worldwide and will provide significant benefits to both passenger and heavy haul operations. The ability to identify and address operational risks will improve asset availability and reliability. In the Heavy Haul sector, network disruptions and delays caused by asset condition have a potential to cause net operating losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The ability of the platform to provide insight to critical rail infrastructure by combining dozens of siloed and disconnected sources of information has the potential to immediately improve rail asset management in Australia’s $9.7 billion heavy haul industry. Estimates indicate more than 1.3 billion tonnes^ are hauled across Australia’s operational heavy railways which stretch more than 33,168 km^ – the equivalent of driving around Australia twice.

Willow Rail powered by Strukton gathers and integrates hundreds of sources of data from individual proprietary systems to provide a single view of a rail network, unlocking new and actionable insight, to all levels of the business, from the CEO to Asset Managers and maintenance teams, all in real time.

The solution also features a custom-built mobile application which facilitates direct communication between maintenance teams and asset managers and features a best in class GIS map for intuitive navigation within the rail network.

Willow Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Gerard Francis said the platform tackles some of the biggest challenges facing passenger and heavy haul rail operators and owners – visibility and responsiveness.

“Over the last decade, rail owners have invested in digitising their operations and assets. This combined with the use of many dozens of different tools, platforms and systems –­ each with their own view of the world and data set­ – presents a considerable information challenge for owners and operators,” Mr Francis said.

“Up to this point, rail owners and managers have simply accepted that information, which they should rightly have access to, is not within easy reach, siloed in proprietary systems,” Mr Francis said.

“Without a single source of truth, teams across a rail network are operating in siloes, managers are forced to connect the dots on their own, and the approach to problem solving is reactive. Willow Rail powered by Strukton provides data democratisation for the first time ever, enabling owners and operators to make sense of all the data inputs, and be in a position to turn that information into a valuable insight.”

According to Strukton Rail Australia Managing Director Paul McIlveen the solution provides significant potential for its unique application across heavy haul and passenger rail in Australia and overseas.

“Willow Rail powered by Strukton offers significant potential for the bottom line, enabling operators to improve their network availability and reliability. Strukton already provides availability guarantees for rail networks in the Netherlands >99% and the domain expertise associated with this performance is embedded in the solution. We believe that this will help rail networks consistently achieve this level of performance and ultimately obtain 100% reliability. For operators and passengers this means fewer interruptions of service and visibility of network compliance,” Mr McIlveen said.

“For example, the GIS Map allows owners to establish zones, custom KPIs and alerts to ensure the network is compliant. Furthermore, engineering and safety standards are embedded within the platform to quickly check if the owner is operating within tolerable standards.

“And through predictive analysis of maintenance, we can now measure all aspects of network health to ensure overall availability, reduce reactive response to faults and provide greater insight into maintenance expenditure.

“Willow Rail powered by Strukton is an absolute game-changer for the rail industry. There is no other solution like it that is capable of driving this level of extra value and savings out of existing assets.”

A Platform Built for the Digital Industrial Revolution

The platform is built to adapt and change over the lifecycle of a rail network. As more information is gathered over time, richer data provides greater insight. This deeper intelligence presents rail operators with a way to learn from existing procedures and run simulations to optimise operations and cost management.

This new environment enables operators to test new ideas in a multitude of environments – before investing and without tampering with physical items in the supply chain, increasing the risk for a disruption or fault.

“We see a future where a rail operator can run full scenario planning on their rail network. This is about having an accurate digital twin of real world performance today and in the future, and being able to make proactive, data-driven decisions to increase efficiency, minimise risk and experiment safely and economically. Willow is proud to partner with Strukton to create a data driven rail industry,” Mr Francis said.


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