Hitachi Rail boosts maintenance offer as it completes acquisition of digital tech firm Perpetuum

  • Investment in UK’s Perpetuum enhances Hitachi Rail’s digital train maintenance, using pioneering data analytics to help customers to improve the safety, availability and reliability of their fleets
  • The solution increases the safe lifespan of parts, significantly reducing industrial waste and helps meet Hitachi’s UN Sustainability commitments 
  • As part of Hitachi Rail’s offering as a full service provider, Perpetuum will serve all rail original equipment manufacturers and operators across the global rail market
  • The condition monitoring solution, which uses wireless sensors powered by harvested vibration energy, has the potential to be applied beyond bogies, across trains and rail infrastructure

Hitachi Rail has today completed the acquisition of Perpetuum, a British rail technology firm that continues to pioneer digital solutions that dramatically improve train reliability and performance.

With the deal complete, Perpetuum’s digital solutions will further improve, optimise and expand the application of the technology across Hitachi’s global transportation portfolio. 

The integration of digital technology has a major role to play in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of operations, train service and maintenance. The acquisition follows the global mobility firm’s strategy of expanding its digital capabilities, including Hitachi’s Lumada platform that uses AI and Internet of Things to turn data into actionable business insights.

Perpetuum’s wireless sensors spot faults remotely, operating on a continuous basis while trains are running. This calculates the “Health Status” of the components, identifying potential issues to be fixed before they delay passengers’ journeys. 

In fact, none of the 3,000+ carriages that are fitted with the application have ever had critical components fail in service. 

Opportunities for growth across both geographies and asset categories

Perpetuum already has blue-chip customers across three continents, but this acquisition is likely to drive further growth in the application and scope of their technology. Hitachi’s global portfolio of projects, particularly in the Middle East and the Americas, includes a growing number of turnkey schemes, in which the whole transport and infrastructure systems are delivered. Some these schemes will also see Hitachi manage the passenger operations of the newly completed transit systems.

Furthermore, while Perpetuum’s offering has largely focused on train bogies, the technology has the potential to provide actionable insights wherever it is generated on the train. It could also help with monitoring infrastructure assets – signalling equipment, tracks and even railway structures – ultimately leading to a more reliable service for customers.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail said: “Hitachi is focused on expanding its digital innovation and sustainability offers, and the acquisition of Perpetuum achieves both goals.

“We’ll be able to improve the service to our customers using Perpetuum’s data-driven insights – leading to better journeys for passengers. We’re delighted to be expanding our portfolio with this exciting digital asset management solution across our global mobility business.”

Steve Turley, CEO, Perpetuum said: “We are excited to be joining Hitachi Rail, not only for the opportunity to grow our core business across global markets, but to continue to advance and transform railway and fleet management for all our customers and partners.”

Perpetuum’s technology helps to drive sustainability goals

Once installed on trains, Perpetuum’s self-powering sensors detect on-board vibrations and send back real-time data about the performance of critical train parts – faster and more accurately than traditional condition-monitoring approaches.

Combining this information with artificial intelligence-led analytical tools not only improves the performance of the railway, but also helps to make it more sustainable, because:

  • critical parts on trains are replaced exactly when they need to be – which increases their lifespan by more than 25% – increasing maintenance efficiency and reducing  industrial waste.
  • since sensors are self-powering they don’t require batteries, unlike other solutions – meaning a single fleet of trains will avoid the creation 11 tonnes of toxic battery waste over its life time;
  • maintenance needed by the trains can be reduced – increasing availability to provide reliable and efficient passenger services.

This is an improvement on traditional maintenance regimes. Traditionally, the wheels and equipment under the train carriages – known as bogies – are maintained by periodic visual inspections. To ensure safety, parts are replaced frequently even if they demonstrate little damage during a visual inspection.

For example, the damage on a wheel’s surface progresses at an unpredictable rate. To be able to use remote condition monitoring to identify the initial start of damage – even before damage is visible during a visual inspection – means both solving potential failure before it happens but also increasing the life of the wheel and maintenance intervals.

For more information, please contact:

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Hitachi Rail to Acquire Perpetuum to Accelerate UK Digitization Strategy

– Japanese mobility firm to purchase UK technology company in move to advance and digitise its global train maintenance programme

– Perpetuum’s technology could cut delays and improve reliability of thousands of passenger services across the world

– Southampton-based firm, including all 73 staff, to be integrated within Hitachi’s railway business of more than 12,000 employees across 38 countries

TOKYO, Aug 12, 2020 – Hitachi Rail Ltd has announced today that it has agreed to acquire Perpetuum, a technology firm that is pioneering digital technology to optimise railway operations, offering improved efficiency, safety and quality of service. The move supports Hitachi Rail’s vision to provide superior transport solutions by using digital technology designed to improve the reliability of thousands of passenger services across the globe, including the 276 Hitachi-built trains running across the UK network today.

Perpetuum’s product utilises wireless condition monitoring to spot faults and have them fixed before they delay passengers’ journeys. In fact, none of the 3,000 carriages that are fitted with Perpetuum sensors have ever had critical components fail in service. Once they are installed on trains, Perpetuum’s self-powering digital sensors detect on-board vibrations and send back real-time data about the performance of critical train parts – e.g. wheel sets, gearboxes, motors or bogies – faster and more accurately than traditional condition-monitoring approaches. Combining this information with artificial intelligence-led analytical tools means that:

– Potential faults are identified and fixed before they impact services – meaning passengers enjoy more reliable and punctual journeys

– Critical parts on trains are replaced exactly when they need to be, which increases their lifespan by more than 25%, cuts costs and protects the environment

– Maintenance needed by the trains can be reduced, increasing availability to provide reliable and efficient passenger services

The Southampton-based business already has blue-chip customers across three continents including a number of UK train operating companies. Its future inclusion as a Hitachi group company will create new opportunities to fit self-powered sensors to the hundreds of trains already serviced around the world by the wider mobility business. Hitachi’s global transportation portfolio is unique in offering full-service solutions for passenger and freight operators globally; from driverless metros, to high-speed bullet trains and signalling solutions – all to ensure an integrated and optimised railway operation. Service and maintenance is key to this fully integrated offering and will complement and develop solutions already in place for customers.

The acquisition will further support Hitachi, Ltd.’s strategy of investing in digital and data-driven ways solve complex customer challenges – in line with Hitachi’s Lumada platform. There is also the potential for Perpetuum’s products to go beyond wheelsets and bogies to provide actionable information wherever it is generated on the train.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail said: “The inclusion of one of the most exciting, pioneering companies in digital asset management is an exciting development for our global mobility business. “Perpetuum’s data-driven insights will offer further improvements to the service we provide to our customers – leading to better journeys for passengers. It also supports Hitachi’s growth in the digital technologies space, which is becoming increasingly key to our offering – adding value to support our global customer base.”

Steve Turley, CEO, Perpetuum said: “We are very excited to launch this next stage for Perpetuum after the success it has had since entering the railway market less than ten years ago. “Being part of Hitachi will present vital opportunities that only a global transport giant can offer. We look forward to better supporting our existing and new customers in the future.”

Hitachi’s moves marks further direct investment into the UK – at time when the British and Japanese governments are negotiating a free trade agreement. It also follows an EUR8.5m investment into constructing a new welding and painting facility at its Newton Aycliffe train manufacturing facility. The transaction will be subject to relevant anti-trust clearance being obtained. Closing is expected in the autumn of 2020.

About Hitachi Rail

Hitachi Rail is a fully integrated, global provider of rail solutions across rolling stock, signalling, service & maintenance, digital technology and turnkey. With a presence in 38 countries, across six continents and over 12,000 employees, our mission is to contribute to society through the continuous development of superior rail transport solutions. We are proud of our global achievements, from our world famous ‘bullet trains’, to our signalling solutions and turnkey projects, state of the-art traffic management and digital solutions. Drawing on the wider Hitachi Group’s market-leading technology and research-and-development capabilities, we strive for industry leading innovations and solutions that can deliver value for customers and sustainable railway systems that benefit wider society. For information about Hitachi Rail, visit

Perpetuum awarded Innovate UK contract, with Hitachi, GWR and Eversholt, to deliver ground breaking Train Axle Crack Monitoring project

Perpetuum has been awarded a contract by Innovate UK to deliver a ground breaking Train Axle Crack Monitoring (TAMON) project.

The project, which involves installing the proven TAMON concept onto a Great Western Railway Class 802 train, has been awarded by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020 competition.

Train axles are traditionally subjected to regular testing to identify incipient crack failure. This process is very costly and involves taking the train out of service. Studies have also looked at extending inspection intervals and involve concepts such as statistical determination of “Probability of Detection”, but there is significant uncertainty and cost involved in the current approach.

A recent project known as ‘MONAXLE’, led by Perpetuum and in collaboration with TWI and the University of Southampton, has proven the concept in the laboratory of detecting cracks by analysing changes in resonance of the axle caused by cracks as it rotates. Now the TAMON project, a first of its kind and the beneficiary of the Innovate UK award, will install this concept on a passenger train for a final stage of testing and demonstration for the industry. The project is utilising a new version of Perpetuum’s well established self-powered wireless monitoring system that will be able to deliver all the previous monitoring features for wheel, bearing and track monitoring, as well as for axle shafts.

TAMON is expected to bring major benefits, including:

  • Significantly reduced maintenance and inspection costs
  • Direct and live information on axle condition to enable confidence in decision making about actions required
  • Reduced downtime for rolling stock through less frequent inspections giving better availability
  • Fewer unplanned withdrawals from service
  • Enhanced safety and reduction in uncertainties on axle cracks

“We are absolutely delighted to be delivering an industry first with the TAMON project with our partners. We have agreed to do the first installation on the GWR 802 fleet in collaboration with Hitachi, the train builder, Eversholt, the owner, and First Group, the TOC franchisee,” explains Roy Freeland, President of Perpetuum.

“TAMON will fully meet the criteria set out by the SBRI for “Optimised and cost-effective maintenance” including reducing returns to depot, use of pattern-recognition technologies to automate inspections and improved reporting of failures and/or issues by collecting live data whilst in service and continuous reporting,” continues Roy.

“The potential of TAMON is extremely exciting for the rail industry. It will be possible to monitor and report the loads on axles which could give helpful information to passengers waiting to board on where there is least crowding. By eventually extending the application to freight, this capability would enhance safety of freight wagons by reporting eccentric and overloads and may eliminate the need for weigh stations to monitor loads for revenue determination.”

The TAMON project is supported by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) which has said it “would be expected to have a significant positive impact on maintenance programmes and rolling stock availability, while reducing risk and disruption to service.”

“Digitalisierung für einen optimalen Kundenservice” – Schaeffler und Perpetuum

Schaeffler DLRSchaeffler und Perpetuum arbeiten seit 2018 zusammen, um Betreibern mit Hilfe von Sensortechnik zur Zustandsüberwachung einen optimalen Service
zu bieten, der es ihnen erlaubt, die Verfügbarkeit ihrer Schienenfahrzeuge
signifikant zu erhöhen und Betriebskosten zu reduzieren. Nahverkehrs-praxis sprach darüber mit Dr. Michael Holzapfel, Leiter Geschäftsbereich Rail – Industrie Europa, Schaeffler  Technologies AG, und Rolf Laager, Sales Manager DACH Region bei Perpetuum Ltd.

DOWNLOAD Schaeffler-Perpetuum

New Sales Manager UK & Ireland for Perpetuum

Stephen Pole has joined the expanding team at Perpetuum as Sales Manager UK & Ireland.  Based in Derby, Stephen’s role will be to evolve and execute the sales and product marketing strategies for Perpetuum in the UK & Ireland.

Headshot_SPoleBringing almost 30 years of working in high technology companies both in the UK and internationally, Stephen was previously a Key Account Manager at SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit Ltd where he was responsible for all commercial and business development activities with clients such as Network Rail.

“I believe I have joined Perpetuum at a very exciting time for the company,” says Stephen. “Our cutting edge products and solutions are making a positive difference throughout the rail industry, helping to transform railway and fleet management. I am most looking forward to being part of this innovative and successful team whilst helping to position Perpetuum as the preferred supplier of choice for RCM solutions. Helping our clients improve efficiency, safety and reliability of their fleets will be paramount.”