Hitachi Rail is to acquire Southampton-based railway technology firm Perpetuum to accelerate its UK digitisation strategy.
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 takeover 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, including all its 73 staff, will be integrated within Hitachi’s railway business of more than 12,000 employees across 38 countries.
The Southampton-based business already has blue-chip customers across three continents including a number of UK train operating companies. However, 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.
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, Hitachi Rail group CEO, 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, Perpetuum CEO, 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 £8.5m 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.