Wireless sensors for Thameslink Railway

7th April 2016
Posted By : Joe Bush
Wireless sensors for Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway has placed an order with Perpetuum to supply wireless sensor systems for four additional Class 170 units joining the existing Class 171 fleet.

The sensor systems monitor wear of the bearings and wheels to help maintenance engineers determine when maintenance is needed. Perpetuum’s Energy Harvesters enable the self-powered maintenance-free wireless sensors to be fitted in a few minutes without the need for complex retro-fit wiring. This new agreement follows the successful installation of Perpetuum sensor systems on a number of Southern (now part of Govia Thameslink Railway) trains in 2014.

Perpetuum’s sensor systems collect vibration data while a train is in motion and this data is transmitted wirelessly to Perpetuum’s database where software algorithms look for the signatures of bearing and wheel wear. The result of this analysis can then be monitored remotely using web-based access. Maintenance engineers can then use the data to view the condition of their assets. Isolated faults can then be rectified before they become a problem, thus improving reliability and safety as well as dramatically reducing operational and maintenance costs. This in-turn improves asset utilisation for the operator and reduces service disruption for passengers.

Current practice on most UK trains is to service them on a mileage basis. Therefore, components are replaced regardless of their condition and even good components are replaced. However, the Perpetuum system opens up the opportunity of moving to a “maintain on need” regime, which enables massive cost savings to be made. It also means that premature failures can be identified thus improving safety. Often improved safety has a cost but this system enables costs to be reduced whilst at the same time improving safety.

Perpetuum’s system provides a remote condition monitoring (RCM) solution for the train, including a communications backbone which does not require a hard wired backbone to be installed. Subsequently additional monitoring of other systems can be added with minimal disruption and cost. This gives the capability to monitor further components such as traction motors, gearboxes and transmissions.

Perpetuum has also developed a track monitoring solution, using its existing system, to allow early detection of track degradation or faults, including the monitoring of the quality of recent corrective work. This allows both operators and infrastructure maintainers to detect defects earlier, and take action to reduce the cost and delay impact on the railway.

Perpetuum’s technology has been delivered to train operators in the US, UK, Sweden, Ireland and Australia. In the UK, the technology has been chosen by operators such as Abellio Scotrail, Keolis Amey Docklands and London and Southeastern Railways.

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