Close search

ROCM - using onboard diagnostics to reduce costs


Our customer is one of the largest rail operators in its region, so it is vital that their trains run on time with either no or little faults.

The customer first came to Nomad Digital and explained their need of becoming more proactive rather than reactive, in a bid to reduce maintenance and costs.

The challenge

The customer was facing challenges such as the long times spent between fleet failures, the regular occurrence of faults found, the availability of the trains and the level of maintenance overhauls of key equipment – they all play an important role in the overall efficiency of the fleet, which is key

Nomad Digital proposed a solution – Remote Online Condition Monitoring (ROCM). A solution which has been developed by Nomad Digital in partnership with Nomad Tech,  a joint venture in Porto, Portugal, between Nomad Digital and CP, the Portuguese Railways.

With some stiff competition, Nomad was successful and awarded the Proof of Concept (POC) for several trains. The purpose of the POC was so the customer could build a valid business case for investing in the solution, as ROCM is a very technical based system this was important. The aim was to prove ROCM will reduce costs and improves efficiency.


The solution

For the POC, the task was to get data from the onboard systems and send that out to the onshore ROCM system. This included data from air conditioning, doors, auxiliary power, traction systems, event recorders and passenger information systems. An added requirement was to use the inbuilt GPS receiver to plot the position of the train and produce reports showing for example where a train is parked or stabled.

Each onboard system had to be analysed to work out how to physically connect, extract and process the data. Tests were performed to ensure the data processed and sent to shore was the same as the source data and more importantly, that it did not interfere with the operation of the train.

The Nomad Digital and Nomad Tech teams were able to install the POC complying with the requirements within nine months. The ROCM system was tailored to suit the customer by adding company branding and setting up custom alerts and reports. The POC was successful and Nomad Digital was awarded the contract for the full fleet (over 200 trains).

With the POC being a success, Nomad then applied the solution for the whole fleet. Nomad worked with key partners and suppliers (globally and locally)  to finalise the ROCM solution, making sure everything expected was working effectively.

ROCM takes data from these functions; for example, the temperature from the HVAC’s looks at how one train is performing in comparison to the rest of the fleet. Another example is the on-board passenger information systems – allowing the customer to outline their timetables remotely to the train, for the passengers. Nomad also looked at GPS tracking, so the performance of the customer’s trains could be seen against the proposed timetable – ensuring trains are running on time.

The raw/near real-time data was then transformed into ‘historical data’, so the customer and their reliability management teams could identify trouble spots and trends/patterns. An example being train doors opening on the wrong side or delays occurring during certain points in the day. The customer was also able to set up near real-time alerts, to alert operation and maintenance management teams of a fault.

The benefits

The customer has been able to leverage the connectivity between the shore and the train to perform many other functions including:

  • remote timetable downloads
  • remote system firmware upgrades e.g. HVAC systems
  • remote odometer readings
  • remote audits and exams
  • monitoring passenger loading.

Using the same connectivity platform., other applications can easily be added to include:

  • live CCTV
  • remote CCTV uploads
  • passenger WiFi
  • passenger counters.

Nomad has also used its global experience to adherence to the latest standards to ensure the data transmitted is secure.



Nomad Digital and Nomad Tech worked with key partners and suppliers to assist with this ROCM solution for the customer, working collaboratively and utilising skills, so the customer was getting the best service. Nomad Digital provided the full solution from design to implementation including installation. Nomad has also been contracted to support the system until 2024.

The results

Nomad has successfully completed a whole fleet and the customer is using the system to drive the efficiencies and save money. Nomad is one of the few suppliers globally to have successfully implemented an On-board Diagnostic (OBD) system of this scale.

With our joint venture Nomad Tech and their solutions, NxT Aware and NxT Sense we’ve created ROCM, which provides in-depth and real-time information on the performance of crucial equipment and components on-board, providing fleet operators and owners the intelligence and sufficient time required to take pro-active action. Ultimately leading to improved service reliability and passenger experience.

By adopting a data strategy, it is possible to optimise the maintenance management and availability of equipment, leading to quantifiable improvements in both cost-effectiveness and reliability.

Watch our video below to understand more