Scaleup’s ML Algorithms Revamping Railway Operations

James Dargan

KONUX

Every AI enthusiast is aware of how the technology, used properly, can decrease pain points in the logistics and transportation industries by reducing traffic congestion, expediating supply planning, bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, and probing customers’ travel habits and demands using predictive analytics.

Machine learning (ML), a subset of AI, is the clear future for the automotive, aerospace, maritime, and railway transportation industries, the last of these being a presentable use-case in the story of a leading German AI startup transforming the fate of railway operations.

KONUX, a Munich-based scaleup, combines ML and industrial IoT to make railway the mobility choice of the future, thereby increasing capacity, reliability and cost-efficiency for that sector.

Founded in 2014 by Andreas Kunze, Dennis Humhal, Maximilian Hasler, Michael Wax, and Vlad Lata, KONUX’s ML software platform has helped the team raise a total of $130.6 million in funding over an incredible 12 rounds. KONUX’s latest funding, a €65-million Series C round led by Sanno Capital, was raised in January of this year.

Trackbeds & Frogs

The big deal here is the KONUX Predictive Maintenance System for Rail Switches, an “end-to-end solution which uses IIoT devices and artificial intelligence to improve network capacity, extend asset lifetime and reduce costs” by a continuous process of monitoring and analyzing the condition and health of key switch components, which include the trackbed and frog, and with it deliver actionable recommendations when they are required.

Rail switches, though small in size, are a crucial component in the railway transportation industry.

But what is a rail switch and what does it do exactly?

A rail switch is a mechanical installation that allows trains to be guided from one track to another, usually at a railway junction or where a spur or siding branches off.

So, you can see, without rail switches, we wouldn’t be going anywhere. Additionally, they must be kept in tip-top shape with regular maintenance checks and assessments, thus avoiding delays and accidents.

Railway networks have to cope with increasing load and aging infrastructure. As maintenance needs get more frequent, manual inspections don’t suffice to detect them in advance. Switches are the most critical part of the rail infrastructure, causing approximately 20–30% of infrastructure-related delay minutes and costing €12bn a year globally to maintain and replace

 — KONUX

In partnership with Deutsche Bahn (DB), KONUX is working on the digitization of its switches in the first-ever cloud-based SaaS infrastructure project, and as the KONUX system is the first AI-based solution for the rail industry, DB is in an enviable position.

To further develop KONUX’s already existing IP is KONUX Labs, a cross-functional team that works to develop new ideas, review external input, conduct market analysis, business planning, competition analysis, feasibility studies, and prototypes.

Of the five who originally founded KONUX, only two play an active role in the company, Maximilian Hasler and Andreas Kunze.

Maximilian Hasler is Co-CEO (a position shared with Andreas Busemann) and Board Member at KONUX, and is bent on shaping the Industrial IoT and predictive analytics industries. Hasler obtained an M.Sc. in Information Systems from the Technical University of Munich.

Andreas Kunze is Vice Chairman at KONUX. A Global Artificial Intelligence Council Member, like Hasler, Kunze studied for an M.Sc. in Information Systems from the Technical University of Munich.

With the help from investors since 2014, KONUX has expanded into ten countries in Europe and Asia and was selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the world’s 30 most innovative startups. That, by definition, goes to prove it is a deep tech company to watch out for revolutionizing the railway industry.

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