Innovative technologies are the key
Actively shaping the digital future of mobility and logistics
Digitalization is radically changing the mobility market. Customer needs are changing ever faster and becoming increasingly individual. Mobile platforms support the flexible use of various modes of transport – no matter where, no matter when. Autonomous driving is gradually becoming a reality. The boundaries between public transport and motorized individual transport are set to disappear in the near future. A fundamental question will remain, however: How should people and goods get simply, safely and reliably from A to B while protecting the environment? Finding new answers to this question is the key to entrepreneurial success in the age of digital mobility, and one of the main missions for Deutsche Bahn.
At its heart lies the use of innovative digital technologies and the promotion of those technologies that underpin this transformation. Whether industry partners, start-ups, university institutes or the hacker community, DB is specifically opening up to new forms of cooperation to deliver improvements for customers and employees rapidly. Internet of Things (IoT) applications, drones, 3-D printing, or virtual and mixed reality are already helping improve quality and customer orientation.
For around 7.5 million people in Germany, DB is nonetheless no longer simply their daily chauffeur. For most of them it is also a digital travel companion - via apps, on-board entertainment or with customer care through social media. DB continues to adopt this two-pronged approach – physical transportation and full digital customer service before, during and after the journey. With new rail-based products and services, on smartphones and with brand-new forms of mobility, such as on-demand services on the road where electric tuk-tuks or autonomous minibuses are also being used in local transport.
Digitalization has also made inroads into the production and organization of physical transportation. Sensors and algorithms already support predictive maintenance of trains and infrastructure equipment – along with more flexible and more efficient solutions for transporting, storing and distributing goods.
DB digitalization is in full swing. By focusing on four aspects, Deutsche Bahn's digitalization strategy integrates virtually all areas of the business.
DB aims to create a digital customer experience, whether on the train, in the car, autonomous bus or with a hire cycle. That starts with planning the journey and extends right through to billing and customer feedback. The aim is to map all routes from A to B digitally to offer every customer the right solution – commuters as well as business travelers and holidaymakers. Key to this is further networking the various modes of transport, as well as the physical and digital offerings. For that reason, DB also funds ride-sharing services, taxi and limousine services, or mobility comparison portals by investing in start-ups.
Industry customers can already track freight shipments in real time, including temperature fluctuations or vibrations in the container. Innovative storage solutions form part of the customer added value when digitalizing logistics processes, which DB is specifically promoting. Online portals are also gradually improving access to transport services and boosting efficiency at the customer interface. In freight transport, more than 600 "intelligent locomotives" are already in service on the German rail network, autonomously collecting data on their condition. By the end of 2020, up to 2,000 intelligent locomotives will be running across Europe, making rail operations for freight transport even more stable.
Using sensors and big data analyses, DB can monitor the condition of railway equipment or vehicles remotely in real time and then maintain them precisely when necessary. At the same time, elevators, escalators or clocks in stations feature state-of-the-art sensors. In this way, anomalies can increasingly be identified and eliminated early on before faults occur. Driver assistance systems also help control trains to save energy and protect the environment. The successive introduction of the state-of-the-art train control system ETCS (European Train Control System) and digital points also form part of digitalizing the infrastructure.
More and more administrative processes at DB are being made more reliable and simpler thanks to intelligent IT and user-friendly applications. Customers also benefit from faster service provision. Sources of error are also reduced, while in turn increasing quality. In the same way this digital progress also benefits DB employees. Travel expenses, for instance, can be billed conveniently via an app. And the Group's social intranet is the digital communications platform for around 200,000 employees in Germany alone. The news, chat and data-sharing portal is available as a mobile website and will soon be rolled out as an app for anyone that does not have an office workstation or access to other corporate IT applications.