The Traction Division of the SNCF experiments with urbanization and innovation using Talend ESB

Dedicated to driver management, the Traction Division of the SNCF created a laboratory to test innovative solutions that meet the urbanization needs of the French railway operator’s information system.
Suresnes (France)

Talend, a global open source software leader, today announced that the Traction Division of the SNCF has chosen Talend ESB for their information system urbanization project. Through the creation of a laboratory aimed at tapping local initiatives and quickly develop innovative solutions, the Traction division has launched these various small projects that both meet business requirements and illustrate the relevance of an urbanization strategy based on an ESB.

A laboratory to spark innovation

The Traction Division has developed and operates a subset of its information system called the “shared management platform” : My main goal, which I share with my colleagues from other SNCF branches and departments, is to ensure the effectiveness and evolution of our information systems. This translates into master plans marking urbanization of our information systems as a priority. This task is particularly substantial and complex, given the variety of SNCF activities and applications utilized (with over thirty years of historical data), but also their separation. It is in this context that we launched these various small projects that both meet business requirements and achieve a POC (proof of concept) of urbanization. In terms of our laboratory, we have chosen to use Talend technology to illustrate the relevance of an urbanization strategy based on an open source ESB/ETL,” Says Emmanuel Berthomé, IS Manager of the SNCF Traction Division.

5 innovative projects across multiple sectors

The Traction Division deployed 5 projects which demonstrate the relevance of the technology selected. Being completely unrelated, these projects were able to be performed while sharing this common base without causing any impact on the existing structure, and making future uses not initially anticipated possible without having to redesign or overhaul the information system.

The first project, “Icarius”, is an application that monitors driving costs consolidating different data once a month, mainly from two applications, to monitor the “driving” production. This data mainly concerns payroll, traction bonuses, variable pay elements, etc. and is now the subject of a monthly report prepared by SNCF management accountants.

The “Guépard” or “Cheetah” project aims to consolidate the projected and actual costs of a production unit or facility, replacing an original application initially created in Excel currently being rewritten locally by a trainee.  Time recognition is wider in scope than in Icarius because it takes into account the time that the employees spend not driving (training, leave, sick, time off, etc.), with the ultimate objective of balancing costs and resources. Hundreds of users are now benefiting from this application.

“Galapagos” is an application to forecast, control and monitor billing for the taxi rides needed to shuttle drivers to the job site and break points away from home.  Talend ESB retrieves the initial transportation plan and its adaptations to carry out the reconciliation. The Traction Division is now exploring the possibility of establishing a specific flow with taxi companies who want this via a web service.

“Energold Gestion” or “Energold Management” is a management application for service stations that supply diesel fuel for the traction units of railway companies circulating on the main network (SNCF and other railway companies). . The application completes the software package by providing an input HMI for service stations that are not yet equipped, and ensuring its integration in the IS. These various flows with the rest of the IS are completed via Talend ESB (engine repository, software data recovery and allocation into the ERP to ensure inventory accounting and billing).

Lastly, a fifth project is currently under development. Its objective is to deploy an application for viewing dashboards and manipulating indicators based on Roambi technology (runing exclusively on touchscreen tablets). The Traction Division uses Talend Enterprise Data Integration to transform data from Excel spreadsheets or different applications (including Icarius) into Romabi format.

Cost control and opening up of information systems

Emmanuel Berthomé emphasizes the role of Talend’s solutions in these projects. “Even though they are very different, these new applications from our laboratory demonstrate how it is possible to accomplish innovative projects quickly, without requiring extensive computer resources,” he says. “Talend's solutions are simple and light, enabling us to manage incoming and outgoing flows, while ensuring appropriate data transformations.”

According to him, one of the main challenges facing his company, like others, is the interoperability of information systems. “The information systems of large companies often consist of silos that should be opened up to meet new business demands. This is one of the priorities of our master plan. Technology like that offered by Talend allows us to achieve this by implementing mediation layers to decouple flows between data producers and consumers, avoiding the infamous spaghetti plots in our information systems,” concludes Emmanuel Berthomé.

Talend provides solutions that simply yet precisely address the various problems tackled by the SNCF Traction Division, both in functional and budgetary terms,” adds Marc Daudin, Manager of IT Consulting at CGI. “With CGI, SNCF has daily support, both in terms of the change or growth of needs and the deployment and integration of solutions. In the end, it leverages secure, optimized and easy to administer flows that yield substantial gains in productivity.”

About SNCF

SNCF is a world leader in mobility and logistics, present in 120 countries generating revenue of €32.6 billion and with a total workforce of 245,000 employees at the end of 2011.

The “Traction” Division is both a Department and twenty establishments within the SNCF, incorporating one hundred production units including 11,000 drivers, 1,600 resource managers and 700 managers. It also manages training centers for drivers (who must receive a course of preparatory training for about a year before assuming the controls of an engine).

About CGI

Founded in 1976, CGI Group Inc. is the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world. Approximately 68,000 professionals serve thousands of global clients from offices and delivery centers across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, leveraging a comprehensive portfolio of services including high-end business and IT consulting, systems integration, application development and maintenance, infrastructure management as well as a wide range of proprietary solutions. With annual revenue in excess of C$10 billion and an order backlog exceeding C$18 billion, CGI shares are listed on the TSX (GIB.A) and the NYSE (GIB). Website: www.cgi.com.