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First ever Smart Rail Summit: HIMA hosts international conference for users in the railway industry

From April 11-12, 2018, HIMA has hosted for the first time a conference for users in the global railway industry – the Smart Rail Summit. During the invitation-only event, about 100 participants from more than 20 countries discussed the current and future challenges of rail safety technology. The main question was how open, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions can support users in the railway industry in securing decisive competitive advantages with innovative business models.

The two-day conference, held in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mannheim, Germany, under the banner “Off the Shelf, On the Rise”, reflected the growing significance of open safety systems in the railway industry. On first day, the focus was on the trends driving the railway industry worldwide. In that respect, digitization was regarded as particularly crucial for future development. The challenges of this complex issue include autonomous trains, increasing networking, and growing cybercrime. Social and economic trends, such as urbanization, changing transportation requirements and increasingly stringent environmental regulations, were also outlined.

All of these factors are presently leading to a change in the railway industry, which is massively investing in the expansion and modernization of infrastructure and is driving digitization worldwide. In response to the most urgent trends, executives from HIMA presented the solutions the safety specialist offers to assist the railway industry in developing innovative and future-proof business models while being compliant with the highest CENELEC safety standard (SIL4) at the same time.

The second day was fully dedicated to applications. Leading railway companies presented use cases where COTS technology already forms the basis for future-ready, cost-effective and cyber-secure solutions. The various best practices demonstrated that compared to proprietary systems, deployment of standard safety controllers gives users unmistakable added value in terms of profitability, handling and future-proofness.

Along with the two conference days packed with a wealth of opportunities for networking and knowledge transfer, the supporting program of the Smart Rail Summit provided an informal evening event in the prestigious Eichenstolz event location near Mannheim. Furthermore, at the end of the first day guest speaker Ilja Grzeskowitz talked about change management in an entertaining manner. The goal was to prepare the attending experts for the imminent change process in the railway industry under the headline of “Changing the Game.” Using humorous anecdotes, striking practical examples and exciting insights, he showed the audience the best way to deal with minor and major changes in their everyday life.

“The interest in the Smart Rail Summit was enormous and the event has been fully booked within just a few days,” says Sedat Sezgün, Group Vice President Business Segment Rail at HIMA. "Our first-ever held user conference has shown that the trend in the railway industry is clearly heading away from proprietary safety systems and towards open standard solutions. Feedback from the users clearly indicates that with COTS and HIMA as a strong partner, the railway industry is well prepared to meet the challenges of digitization.”


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Ian Clay, Executive Director
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The communications agency at the heart of technology and engineering markets.


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