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Compiled by Michael Popke
Onboard monitoring systems help increase system availability, reduce on-track equipment failures and save money through improved efficiency by collecting and transmitting remote, data-driven and real-time operational intelligence. Advances in technology have fueled monitoring device innovation, which continues to evolve.
Progressive Railroading recently asked a number of onboard locomotive monitoring system suppliers to provide information about their offerings. Emailed responses were received from the following seven companies.
Amsted Digital Solutions released its E-Series gateway, a rugged GPS telematics device tailored for the tough freight-rail operating environment. The E-Series gateway features the highest safety certification rating under UL-913 (Class 1 Division 1), operates on the 4G cellular network and is 5G forward-compatible, Amsted Rail officials said.
Enhancements slated for later in 2021 include a hybrid self-powered design incorporating energy harvesting and a small series of rechargeable batteries. All data collected from E-Series devices are sent to Amsted’s Microsoft Azure cloud.
The platform is scalable, flexible and reliable, and backed by Microsoft service levels. The combination of device-to-cloud allows greater flexibility for customers who prefer to use an API to receive their data for use with their own user interface, company officials said.
In addition, Amsted Rail and ADS have developed BogieIQ, the first-ever digitalized rail-car truck system, they said. It has undergone field testing in North America and was developed based on Amsted Rail’s 130 years as a component manufacturer of truck systems, wheelset components and conventional brake components. The system is integrated with ADS’ onboard device technology.
Industrial Networks’ new SwitchMaster solution tracks rail cars immediately after performing switches by utilizing strategically placed stationary or tripod-mount AEI systems combined with the INT300 series AEI tablet. The solution is designed to eliminate the need to manually collect and update new rail-car location data in a rail yard after switches are performed.
Using the INet tablet and SwitchMaster application, operators select the “Yard and Track” function to activate the associated AEI system and then complete the switch. Once confirmed — and car IDs have been populated in the tablet app — operators select the “Save” function to update back-end databases to reflect car locations. The solution is flexible and scalable, so adding new stationary systems due to increased efficiencies or expanded yards can easily be accomplished, Industrial Networks officials said.
Progress Rail’s PowerView LDARS/LDVR product line provides synchronized recording and playback of multiple data sources and can replace multiple locomotive recorders with a single unit, company officials said. It is also a complete processing platform that supports edge computing for local analytics, alarming and other applications.
PowerView integrates across most OEM locomotive types, as well as various third-party systems, and is designed to support future technology upgrades. New features include detailed fuel monitoring, additional sensor types, new camera technology and integrated machine learning. The system also is fully compliant with the new Transport Canada LVVR regulations and all features can be accessed by the new PowerView Connect back-office system.
Additionally, the PR Uptime™ Suite offers a next-generation predictive analytics platform that enables railroads to minimize unplanned downtime and improve asset utilization and reliability. The cloud-based portal monitors locomotive faults and operating parameters in real time, providing diagnostics, prognostics and repair recommendations, Progress Rail officials said.
The platform delivers scalable user access with applications, including metrics, key performance indicators and dashboards, and enhanced sensor packages that allow railroads to move toward condition-based maintenance, they said.
Railhead Corp. offers onboard remote monitoring and video systems for locomotives, cab cars and track vehicles. The company’s systems are installed at Class Is, short lines, and light- and commuter-rail systems worldwide.
The systems process multiple data feeds from on-train event recording equipment todeliver fault alerts as they occur, to control rooms and repair shops, enabling railroads to know where their assets are at all times, Railhead officials said. The company also offers a 4K system that supports up to 12 cameras and delivers high video quality.
Railhead’s LDVRHD4K is Mil-Spec-, FRA- and SAE-rated for durability and reliability in harsh railroad environments. The LDVR-HD/4K recorder is wireless-ready and can integrate with crash-hardened memory modules and event recorders.
The integrated video and data streams from the LDVR — combined with system data feeds from multiple on-train devices — enable railroads to add real-time data to the control room overview to provide a complete picture of rail asset status to the mechanical department and emergency personnel, engineers and operators, Railhead officials said.
Siemens Mobility's new telematics system is Controlguide CTmobile TSM, with the “CT” short for comprehensive telematics and “TSM” standing for train state monitoring. The system provides near-instant departure and arrival information at transport-related configurable locations and — with Controlguide CTsensor — offers an up-to-the minute overview of a railroad’s vehicle fleet.
The system features a mobile box fitted to each car that wirelessly transmits data such as car sequence or status of individual cars. Measured values are transmitted via short-distance radio and evaluated in terms of time and location. If deviations from expected values are detected, a message can be generated and sent to a centralized web portal, Siemens officials said.
Possible measurable values include temperatures, pressures, humidity, loading and filling status, door opening status, lever positions and hinged-cover positions. Directly accessible from workplaces and mobile devices, the system can easily be integrated into most existing vehicle resource-management systems, Siemens officials said.
Wi-Tronix Connected Ecosystem Solutions record configurable locomotive statistics and secure video and audio data. The system gathers inputs from different onboard sources and devices to provide a comprehensive, single-source remote monitoring solution.
It’s designed to reduce regulation-compliance complexity and provides easy access to video and audio of entire fleets from anywhere and with any device. The system can reduce investigation analysis time and cost; implement automation for the acquisition of outward audio/video data and continuous locomotive data for streamlining safety-critical reviews; and provide secure data access with integrated privacy controls, data retention management and recording capabilities, Wi-Tronix officials said.
Additionally, the Wi-Tronix Connected LVVR Solution is designed to simplify regulation compliance to include the latest Transport Canada LVVR regulations.
ZTR offers monitoring systems that provide customers with insights into key status information onboard locomotives, rail cars, maintenance-of-way equipment and rental assets. The company has developed and applied technology that extends or upgrades its existing systems.
ZTR has introduced Railway Internet of Things (RIoT) products and services for the application of monitoring systems to assets that aren’t already equipped with its solutions. Data points such as location, load status, faults, fuel level, run hours, hard impact and battery voltage represent typical starting points for new RIoT customers, ZTR officials said. The company’s solutions enable end-to-end visibility through the application of telematics devices and sensors, as well as the secure capture and presentation of data.
PIVOT is ZTR’s advanced rail-car remote monitoring solution, which was created in partnership with BlackBerry™. It integrates with existing business systems and meets railway efficiency requirements to help customers see beyond location, avoid downtime, prioritize maintenance requirements, increase reliability and more.
The ZTR Data Brokerage service also has become an important component in digital transformation strategies and facilitates data sharing between partners through securely defined protocols, company officials said.
Michael Popke is a Madison, Wisconsin-based freelance writer. Email questions or comments to email@example.com.