© AdobeStock (kimtaro2008)

SmartBooking & Co.

One switch for better quality

02/2019 – Whether booking meeting rooms, counting people, monitoring stock or measuring temperatures: with innovative sensor solutions work processes at Deutsche Bahn will in future be made easier, more efficient and cost effective.


The LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) wireless network consumes very little energy and functions across large distances. It also features optimum building penetration, even through concrete ceilings. In cities the distance between transmitter (sensor) and receiver (gateway) can be up to five kilometres, while in rural areas a range of up to 40 kilometres is achieved. Due to the low energy consumption – and depending on the volumes of data to be transmitted – battery-operated sensors can attain a service life of up to 10 years.

From meeting room to depot shed

In the Frankfurt Silver Tower and at the Marktstrasse site in Berlin the technology is used to install DB Buttons at workplaces, which enable users to check in and out at the touch of a button. In the first quarter of 2019 the SmartBooking solution is being expanded to more than 1,500 workstations and well over 200 rooms. S-Bahn Hamburg is convinced of the value of this concept and will shortly equip 60 workplaces with SmartBooking.

DB Button –Occupying a workplace at the touch of a button in the Frankfurt Silver Tower
© DB Systel GmbH

With personnel counters that have been installed for DB Real Estate in various DB office buildings, it is, on the other hand, possible to determine for later evaluation exactly how many people are in a building at any time. The capacity utilisation data, for example, is of great benefit for the planning of new buildings. The same technology is also used for DB Sales in Travel Centres for continuous measurement of visitor numbers.

SmartCounting – People counter in a DB Travel Centre
© DB Systel GmbH

With the DB Buttons that are used for checking in and out of a workstation, employees in the ICE maintenance depots in Munich and Griesheim also order their materials for topping up distributed materials stores. Together with the Frankfurt Griesheim maintenance depot, the sQubic team is currently developing a solution to enable the availability of different materials (such as brake blocks, contact strips, filter mats and similar) to be determined automatically using sensor technology. Delays when processing maintenance caused by lack of materials should thus become a thing of the past.

Battery test for a longer life

At DB Energy as well, sensors and LoRaWAN should in future ensure that the quality promise of Deutsche Bahn is upheld: in its own 8,000 kilometre traction network, current is transmitted at a non-standard frequency. For the overhead line, the traction current must be transformed down from 110 kV to 15 kV in the substation. In order that the controller in the substation also functions during a power failure, large emergency battery units have been installed for the standby supply. These must be regularly checked, maintained or even replaced on site.

Batteries in the substation are monitored by means of sensors. The data is transmitted by LoRaWAN via the DB IoT Cloud.
© DB Energie GmbH

In a joint Proof of Concept by DB Energy and DB Systel, the temperature and level of the batteries will be moni­tored by sensors in the substation as from 2019 and the corresponding data made available in the DB data net­work by LoRaWAN via the DB IoT Cloud. For the purpose of the test, a LoRa gateway has been set up at the Karls­ruhe site. The values provide infor­mation on the health of the battery and on whether the end of its ser­vice life has been reached. “During maintenance, we can not only save the expense of new batteries, but also time, as previously personnel had to drive around the region in order to check the battery condition”, says Ingo von Ammon, Project Manager at DB Energy. Delibe­rately, no finished product ready for roll-out is installed in the first phase. “It is not manda­tory that the sensor techno­logy used is that which we later use natio­nally”, explains Martin Kemper from DB Systel. Because the test might possibly reveal that the market is offering more attractive solutions.

© DB Energie GmbH

If we have to send out a colleague every time just to read out the values, that has nothing to do with Digitalisation 4.0.

Ingo von Ammon, Project Manager at DB Energy

And that is just the beginning of the collaboration with DB Systel. For example, at many stations electricity meters are installed in positions which are difficult to access for reading. The data from the electricity meters is used for billing the metered amount of energy. “If we have to send out a colleague every time just to read out the values, that has nothing to do with Digitalisation 4.0”, says Ingo von Ammon. “We have a great many ideas and are now investigating how these can be combined. It makes absolutely no sense if we operate as a lone wolf in this field. I am pleased that we do not have to start at zero, but instead can benefit from the work carried out at DB Systel.” Completely in line with the corporate philosophy: together we are stronger than if we try to make it alone. So even the smallest sensors are looking after something quite big.