A Sheffield company keeping our railways safe is targeting “world domination” with its award-winning technology.

3Squared is at the forefront of the shift to the 'digital railway’ and develops tech for some of the UK’s biggest brands within rail and construction.

One product is the Employee Development System, which digitises the process of ensuring driver safety and compliance.

“We essentially make sure that drivers are safe when doing their job,” commercial director James Fox told BusinessCloud at Sheffield Digital’s showcase event.

“We make sure people can drive the routes and they are assessed every year. Previously this process was paper-based and things went wrong, files went missing, which would have been an absolute nightmare for compliance.”

EDS is one part of the firm's flagship RailSmart web and mobile app, which was initially developed six years ago and recognised in 2016 with a Queen's Award for Innovation.

The company is increasingly moving towards a licensing model, which guarantees subscription-based revenue. “About 50 per cent of our revenue is licensed now, split against 50 per cent in bespoke products for operators such as East Midlands Trains, South West Trains and ScotRail,” explained Fox.

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3Squared works alongside operators to develop tech which it can then sell into the rest of the industry.

One recent example is assessing the risk of leaves falling on the line by combining data from a variety of sources.

“Leaves on the track is a massive problem in the rail industry,” said Fox. “We've developed a solution with the Met Office that will help drivers have more information available to them if they are driving on a line which has leaf fall.

“They get a forecast at the start of the day which is updated throughout so they know where the problems are along the route: which types of leaves are falling? Is it raining?

“Leaves tend to stick to the line, so we can tell at certain points where the problems are. The system pulls in several data points and assesses whether there is low, medium or high risk of low adhesion at particular points so they can drive accordingly.”

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If a train travels too quickly on a rail with low adhesion, it can lead to ‘wheel flats’, where wheels cannot turn on the track and so the weight of the train is placed on one particular part of the wheel and not evenly spread.

That can result in wheels becoming misshapen and tracks being damaged, leading to the train being put out of service while the wheels are ‘shaved down’. 

“We’ve got some really good operators on board who are committed to scaling he product,” revealed Fox. “We’re also moving to Europe now, while we’ve got clients in Canada who are really interested in evolving it.

“World domination is the next step! We aim to get more people in Europe and the rest of the world on board because they all have the same problems with information and flow and safety – and we have a proven solution which we can scale.”