DCM Design Guide

High performance and cost effective design of power systems.

A DC-DC converter module (DCM) encapsulates isolation, regulation, thermal management, and fault monitoring in a single module.

This design guide provides power system designers with detailed insight to best use ChiP DCMs in a DC distribution power system.

To download the full design guide, please fill out the form below:

Opal ticketing tech network hits 30 million journeys

Millions of commuters have been using contactless payments when taking trains, trams, buses, and ferries across the Opal network.

Acting Minister for Transport and Roads Paul Toole said a major milestone had been reached with more than 30 million journeys taken using debit or credit cards, or linked devices, since the first trial on the Manly Ferry in 2017.

1.5 million journeys are paid without an Opal card on average in a week.

“Rolling out contactless payments is an Australian-first innovation and is one of the biggest advancements in ticketing technology in generations,” Toole said.

Toole said the NSW Government is providing more innovative payment options for those using the Opal network as people continue to move away from cash, and, more recently, cards.

He said while new payment options were growing in popularity among commuters, there was still demand for pre-loaded Opal cards.

“It’s easier than ever to pay for public transport and through our innovative payment platforms we’re aiming to create more digital products including the digital Opal card which we plan to roll out in a trial phase in 2020,” Toole said.

“This follows the activation of contactless payments on all public transport modes on the Opal network, and introducing the same fare and travel benefits of an Adult Opal card last year. Transport for NSW continues to offer Opal cards.”

The entire transport sector is undergoing a technology revolution: GS1 senior manager

The Australasian railway industry continues to undergo significant change and businesses are being encouraged to maximise the opportunities from new and emerging technologies. The industry is preparing changes to digitalise management of rail assets, efficiency around the network and moving customers and freight in cities that are becoming more congested.

In 2018, Smart Rail Route Map was introduced as an industry driven initiative by the Australasian Railway Association to promote standardisation, integration and harmonisation over the next 30 years. During a panel discussion at AusRail last year, Professor Douglas Creighton from Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation said there has been tremendous feedback since the release of the final version.

“This is the bridge between vision and action and it’s time to connect the dots,” Creighton said.

Bonnie Ryan, senior manager of freight, logistics and industrial sectors at GS1 Australia, in the AusRail panel discussion, spoke about the industry having a drive to digitalise.

“The entire transport sector is undergoing a technology revolution,” she said. “GS1 Australia works with over 20 sectors, and they’re all at various stages of the shift to digitalisation.” She stresses the importance on the first step which is to “digitise data”.

Ryan adds not all data is equal, people can be sceptical about where it comes from and if it’s accurate so the only way to trust data is to have good governance and framework so that you can measure data quality. Ryan expresses the crucial role that the accuracy/validity of the data plays in the process of driving technology innovation.

“In the GS1 world we talk about data that is generated from the source, so if you’re providing traceability data, for example, it must come directly from the manufacturer.

“That’s the only way you can truly trust it.”

Project i-TRACE was named i-Trace for the purpose and context of traceability.

“The word ‘enable’ gets used over and over again, but i-Trace is implemented as an enabler for our systems and is a very important part of the future of the business.” said Ryan.

“Project i-TRACE is an initiative of the industry gradually coming together,” she said.

Furthermore, Stephen Baker, Head Product Innovation at Siemens said Project i-Trace has been an enabler for enhancing more than just supply chain management. Additionally, Ryan suggests that “having good governance and knowing where the data is coming from before allowing it to flow into your organisation is really important and the major focus is on visibility and traceability”.

Moreover, “there are hurdles to overcome for the industry to move forward, not just the technical skills but the way and approach to new technology,” Ryan said.

Ryan proceeds to explain that; although there are some fantastic data management tools in the front end for organisations to utilise in their day to day systems, there are still too many manual processes in the back end. As result, “we are constantly working with the industry to deliver efficiencies and deliver those benefits that will ultimately roll out better network performance and asset management practices”.

Realising the potential for digital twins in rail

Digital twins have become one of the most talked about topics because of their promise to leverage innovation to improve design, visually enhance collaboration, and increase asset reliability, and performance, explains Meg Davis, senior product marketing manager for the Bentley AssetWise transportation asset management products.

However, rail is a very traditional and safety-sensitive industry, and with the backdrop of owner-operators and project delivery firms needing to work within tighter budgets, shorter deadlines, and with increased legislation, change can be slow and challenging.

While the risks associated with changing a tried-and-true formula weigh heavily on the minds of those responsible, the upside is that the highly complex nature of rail networks and systems allow for the opportunity to innovate and leverage technology to change the way rail networks do business.

Many owner-operators around the world have recognised the potential for digital twins in their work and have begun to explore the opportunities for applying big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) throughout the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of rail and transit networks.

What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset, process, or system, as well as the engineering information that allows us to understand and model its performance. Plainly stated, a digital twin is a highly detailed digital model that is the counterpart (or twin) of a physical asset. That asset might be anything from a ticket machine or escalator in a station, through track and the switches and crossings within it, to related infrastructure like overpasses or overhead line structures, right up to and including an entire city.

Connected devices and sensors on the physical asset collect data that might relate to condition or performance that can be mapped onto the digital twin to understand how the physical asset is performing in the real world, but also, through analysis or simulation, how it might perform in the future or with a different set of parameters.

Plainly stated, a digital twin is a highly detailed digital model that is the counterpart (or twin) of a physical asset.

Why are digital twins important?

Digital twin technology has existed in industries like manufacturing for many years, driving lean processes, improving performance, and predicting and highlighting components at risk of failure. Additionally, digital twin technology ensures that the lessons learned contribute to design enhancement and are applied to future products and systems. The relevance and influence of digital twins, which span the entire asset lifecycle, are significant when applied to rail infrastructure.

During the planning, design, and construction of a new railway or major upgrade, project digital twins can enable the optimisation of design in line with operational requirements and reduce the risk of delayed or nonconformant construction through simulation. Project digital twins can also improve logistics and communication within the supply chain, which can help maintain the schedule and budget.

During operations, performance digital twins become the most valuable. Owner-operators gain insight when inputs from Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, such as drones that deliver continuous surveys to provide real-time tracking of asset changes in real-world conditions, add to the digital representation. This transparency helps owner-operators prioritise and improve maintenance or upgrades.

Consequently, the most significant value a rail or transit system can achieve is through the successful implementation of digital twin technology. By using digital twins to plan, design, and build the network, and utilising the digital twin during operations, a rail or transit owner-operator will improve performance and reliability.

With the application of AI and ML, analytics visibility gained from big data can provide insight and immersive digital operations to enhance the effectiveness of operations and maintenance. In this instance, access to performance digital twins might enable staff to anticipate and avoid issues before they arise or improve reaction times to system failures to reduced downtime.

With the application of drones and robots, plus AI-based computer vision, automating inspection tasks via a digital twin experts can conduct inspections remotely, increase productivity, leveraging the value of specialists, and reducing the risk of exposing team members to dangerous environments.

Realising the potential of digital twins

There must be practical solutions for the synchronisation of the physical asset’s changing condition to realise the full potential of digital twins. The timing and scope of this synchronisation is key because certain assets update in near real-time, which can be critical to their reliability. For others, a weekly, monthly, or even annual update on condition may be sufficient. Therefore, it is important that the organisations and professionals involved have a clear strategy when setting the criteria for synchronisation, including which assets should be analysed, when, and by what parameters.

However, merely capturing and representing physical conditions, including IoT inputs, can never be sufficient enough to understand, analyse, or model intended improvements, without also comprehending the digital engineering information used in the project’s or asset’s engineering design and specification.

Digital engineering information is like the “digital DNA” for infrastructure assets. Just as doctors can analyse human DNA to anticipate health issues and personalise care for better health outcomes, project delivery firms can harness digital engineering information to enable collaboration, improve decision making, and deliver better project outcomes.

For owners, leveraging “digital DNA” is all about creating and using digital twins to their full advantage—personalising asset maintenance and maximising asset reliability and uptime. It is about creating an open, connected data environment (CDE) that provides trusted information wherever and whenever it is needed to help design, build, operate, and maintain physical assets. Then, owners will use digital twins to make better decisions, gain more efficiency, and improve performance.

Maha Metro uses Bentley’s OpenRail solution iModels as its final delivery format due to its ability to provide reliable, long-lasting asset models for reference.

 

Current networks are the digital twins for future projects

Bentley sees its users advancing digital workflows and using intelligent components, and digital context to improve project delivery and/or enable assets to perform better, every day and all around the world. One organisation achieving these objectives is Maharashtra Metro (Maha Metro) in Nagpur, India.

Maha Metro’s implementation of Bentley’s OpenRail solution uses iModels as its final delivery format due to their ability to provide reliable, long-lasting asset models for reference. The organisation is committed to a full lifecycle approach and has deployed a digital project delivery system with OpenRail’s connected data environment (CDE) at its core and encompassing every phase of the asset lifecycle from planning to performance.

Maha Metro’s CDE is configured to record all data and uses asset tags to link components created with Bentley’s open modelling applications, such as its enterprise resource planning system. Hundreds of thousands of drawings and documents are transacted among approximately 400 users within the CDE currently, providing real-time access to trusted information wherever and whenever it is needed. The expansive CDE also provides data mobility to close communication gaps, speed up design issue resolution and approvals, and achieve millions of US dollars in cost savings.

The digital DNA Maha Metro and its supply chain is creating during design and construction will allow the organisation to manage current, future, and refurbished assets. By ensuring this trusted information remains current and accessible, the organisation’s system will enable strategic decision making, establish condition-based monitoring, and progress toward predictive maintenance strategies that are expected to save at least USD 222 million over 25 years of the railway’s operational life.

It is clear that digital twins are gaining momentum, particularly within organisations that presently have IoT initiatives. The emergent nature of digital twins will require an approach with clear business objectives and an agile approach to experiment and learn from experiences. Just as Maha Metro is setting the agenda and direction for the industry, we at Bentley fully expect to see the use and adoption of digital twins become common place within rail owners and their supply chains.

The future of train control systems: Reliability, throughput and passenger experience

IQPC Australia is proud to present the 9th annual Train Control Management Systems Summit (TCMS) held in Sydney from February 19 to 21 at the Novotel Sydney Central. Over the years TCMS, Australia’s largest and longest running train control event, has emerged as the annual meeting place for leaders in the rail industry.

Developed in collaboration with the TCMS 2020 Advisory Board, comprising Transport for NSW, the ARTC, Aurizon, as well as global leader Deutsche Bahn, In 2020 TCMS is back with an agenda that has been carefully curated to deliver professionals and organisations comprehensive insights into how to increase throughput, optimise network operations, and deliver superior passenger experiences.

With populations in our urban hubs rapidly growing, pressures are mounting on transport operators to meet current and future capacity needs. As such many Australian states have announced billions in transport infrastructure investment.

While populations are growing, simultaneously customer expectations are changing. Today customers demand flexibility, real-time travel information, omni-channel ticketing options, and transparency from their rail operators. Train Control Systems, while not being strictly ‘customer facing,’ are moving beyond their traditional functions and have an important role to play in the delivery of these superior experiences.

Speaking ahead of the summit Nikolai Prince, director of rail service planning at Transport for NSW said; “Certainly the biggest challenge we’re facing across NSW has been the unprecedented population growth over the last three to four years. To combat the challenge we’re working to develop a detailed understanding of how customers move around the rail network by leveraging data and harnessing this to inform decision making.”

Nikolai is one of over 16 train control, network optimisation, and digital rail experts speaking at this year’s event, which also brings together CEOs, executive directors and heads of ETCS from the likes of Sydney Trains, Pacific National, The ARTC, Public Transport WA, and Rio Tinto.

To learn more about the event, be sure to grab a copy of the event guide for more info.

Rail innovation centre to complement manufacturing facility

Siemens will build a rail industry innovation centre in Goole, East Yorkshire, after the company submitted plans to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

The centre will form part of the Rail Accelerator and Innovation Solutions Hub for Enterprise (RaisE).

The centre will focus on research, development, and innovation, and is located alongside Siemens Mobility’s rail manufacturing centre, announced in 2018, and scheduled to be completed by 2025.

The factory will build the trains for London’s Piccadilly line, which Siemens secured the contract to build in November 2018. Siemens will supply its Inspiro model to the line, beginning in 2023.

According to Sambit Banerjee, managing director, rolling stock and customer services for Siemens Mobility, the latest announcement covers facilities designed to support manufacturing and the wider industry.

“As well as accommodating support teams for our new rail manufacturing facilities, this building and other later related facilities will offer significant benefits to partners from industry and academia.”

Banerjee highlighted that the combined research and manufacturing facilities will share insights.

“This is the first phase of development of a cluster of facilities focused on innovation and research and development that will create a high-tech centre of excellence for the UK rail industry,” he said.

“The objectives of RaisE are consistent with our ambitions to establish a world-class rail village at Goole, combining manufacturing facilities with digital-led innovation to drive technological advances across the rail network and industry.”

Hull based developer Wykeland Group will construct the facility.

Metro Trains Comeng EMU. Photo: Zed Fitzhume / Creative Commons

Tech upgrades for Comeng fleet

Passengers on Melbourne’s Comeng train fleet will get clearer and simpler journey information thanks to the progressive rollout of new information systems planned by the state government.

A Comeng test train fitted with upgraded communications equipment is in revenue service on the Metro Trains network in the Victorian capital, ahead of the planned rollout of the technology on 29 trains over the next 12 months.

Upgrades include real-time high definition information, colour passenger information displays with dynamic route maps and clearer destination screens on the outside of trains. There’s also high definition CCTV cameras being installed, along with better speakers and improved hearing aid links for audio announcements.

The upgrades are part of the third stage of the state’s $75 million investment to modernise the Comeng fleet, which was first commissioned in 1982.

The third stage also includes upgrading air compression systems powering the brakes, doors, pantographs and traction systems across the fleet.

The first and second stages of the program included safety upgrades for the Comengs’ doors, upgrades to interiors and exteriors, and enclosing the walkways between carriages.

“We’ve invested a record amount into new rollingstock and we’re modernising our current fleet to give passengers a better ride,” public transport minister Melissa Horne said.

“By upgrading critical systems, passengers will have clearer, simpler information and more reliable services so they can get home sooner.”

Metro Trains is also retrofitting thousands of wireless data recorders to the X’Trapolis and Siemens fleets for real-time condition monitoring.

“Monitoring trains in real-time will lead to a safer and better performing railway – that’s great news for passengers,” Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty said. “Using real-time data means a smarter approach to train maintenance and fewer faults impacting passengers.”

Surviving a Digital Tsunami: the Rail Manufacturing CRC’s legacy

A digital revolution is underway in the rail manufacturing industry, says Stuart Thomson, CEO of the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

 


With the growth of emerging technologies which will disrupt the way industry conducts its business, “the changes are going to be rapid and the rail industry needs to be ready,” Rail Manufacturing CRC CEO, Stuart Thomson, tells Rail Express.

In response, the Rail Manufacturing CRC has spent the last five years working with the rail industry to start tackling these challenges. Launched in 2014, the Rail Manufacturing CRC’s focus has been to increase the capability of Australia’s rail manufacturing industry. Industry participants include Downer, CRRC, Knorr-Bremse, Bombardier Transportation Australia, HEC Group, Airlinx and Sydney Trains, who collaborate on research and development programs with institutes such as University of Technology Sydney, CSIRO, Deakin University, University of Queensland, Monash University, CQUniversity, Swinburne, RMIT and CSIRO.

“By sharing the risk involved in the development of technology while building networks across the supply chains, this increases the Australian rail sector’s competitive global position and creates a depth of industry capability.”

Since commencing, though, there have been some changes in the centre’s focus. Initially focused on heavy-haul rail, the subsequent plateauing of the mining boom, coupled with massive growth in passenger rail thanks to state and federal investment in rail infrastructure, resulted in a shift in the centre’s focus.

While its projects have contributed to a more innovative rail manufacturing industry, the most important contribution of the Rail Manufacturing CRC is the newfound strong engagement between universities and participating rail organisations. Australia’s universities have highly skilled and worldclass levels of research capabilities, and the challenge lies in the capacity for the rail sector to use that knowledge.

“With less than half of one per cent of scientists and researchers working in rail, it is key to attract and train the next generation of employees, while recognising the new skills that research graduates can bring to Australia’s future rail industry,” Thomson shared.

Planning for the future has, so far, consisted of 32 industry projects, 48 PhD scholarships and the involvement of 35 organisations over the entire six-year life of the Rail Manufacturing CRC, with the centre now working towards a closing date of June 2020.

“Over our full six-year lifetime, we will have achieved a wide range of leading research and commercialisation activities across the centre’s program areas of Power and Propulsion; Materials and Manufacturing; and Design, Modelling and Simulation,” says Thomson.

In its Power and Propulsion stream of projects, the centre has focused on energy solutions for better rail efficiencies, looking at battery and supercapacitor development and manufacture, new composite braking materials and rail-wheel-interface projects. Some of these projects involve the testing of lithium storage technologies.

With Australia’s great lithium reserves, this has wide reaching benefit across the resources sector as well as for rail, and according to Thomson, there is a boom in the use of lithium in energy storage devices. In regard to battery technology, Thomson says the centre is looking at fundamental studies to create better and more efficient lithium batteries, supercapacitors and energy storage systems.

“The ultimate goal of our energy storage projects is to develop technologies that will make overhead rail catenary systems obsolete, resulting in reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs. We’re working with companies such as Downer, Knorr-Bremse, CRRC, and the HEC Group, all of whom have different applications in a very active field of endeavour.

“We’re also using energy storage devices for emergency applications in rail as backup batteries. We’re looking at using lithium and new battery technologies to decrease the cost and also increase the life cycle of those devices. Obviously, the less servicing needed means significant cost savings in terms of maintenance.”

Meanwhile, the Materials and Manufacturing stream of work focusses on component durability, maintenance optimisation, composite material design and assembly automation. The projects in this stream intend to create replacement materials that are much more light weight, yet still with similar or better structural properties and the safety properties required.

“The challenge in rail at the moment is that we’re creating more energy consuming rail rolling stock, so it’s ideal to reduce energy consumption by light-weighting light rail and heavy rail.”

Within this, the centre is investigating with Swinburne University, metallic cellular materials, such as recycled aluminium honeycombs and foams for rail sandwich panels. One project is researching the manufacturing methods to best make these materials, while another is looking at experimental works and simulations to investigate the mechanical properties of the sandwich panels.

Another centre project collaboration with the University of Queensland and Bombardier worked to predict the wear rates of axle bearings used in suburban passenger trains. Through the development of a software model, bearing life is predicted using algorithms that aim to optimise the bearing selection, lubrication and overhaul maintenance schedule with significant economic benefits.

Within the Design, Modelling and Simulation stream, the centre is focussing on passenger information systems and dwell time management, cabin airflow monitoring, data transfer and analytics, and virtual and augmented reality rail training.

One of the more visible of the centre’s projects is the Dwell Track technology created in collaboration with Downer and the University of Technology Sydney. The technology enables operators to anonymously monitor passenger numbers and movement using 3D cameras to extract the relevant spatial and temporal information in real-time.

“We are able to monitor passenger flow and pathways. The information collected is used to better understand how platform infrastructure can be designed and operated in a more efficient way to limit congestion at certain points and times. By understanding where the congestion points are on platforms, operators are able to redesign or tailor solutions based on the information collected, so it’s really data driven.”

Thomson credits rail operators for providing the facilities to keep improving the Dwell Track technology.

“Queensland Rail, Sydney Trains and PTA Western Australia have all participated in testing and trialling the technology over a number of years. This has enabled the project team to tweak the technology to make it better as we’ve gone along. It is a real example of how operators have come to the fore to assist the development of new innovations,” he said.

While at the moment this technology enables decisions to be made or exceptions to be identified efficiently, Thomson believes this technology will eventually have an artificial intelligence component. “If we could automate some of those functions, such as if gates can be closed or opened based on computers rather than having staff on the platforms doing that work, we’d be able to free up staff time to concentrate on other critical issues.”

Ultimately, however, the goal is to take the data captured by the technology, analyse it and understand what responses can be taken to alleviate congestions at stations.

When asked about his predictions for the future of innovation in the rail manufacturing space, Thomson says data analytics is the key.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more use of data for modelling and prediction. We’re seeing a huge focus on condition-based monitoring applications and being able to monitor and understand all components to provide the operators and customers with information relating to the rollingstock’s use and performance in real-time.”

One of the critical uses for this is also to provide maintenance when its needed, rather than in the aftermath of issues. “Being able to predict when something’s going to happen before it does and fixing it prior to breaking down will have huge benefits for operators and manufacturers.”

One example of research being undertaken in this area is a Rail Manufacturing CRC, Deakin University and Downer collaboration to provide data specialists for Downer’s TrainDNA project. Aimed at improving data collection, analysis and interpretation, the team are developing algorithms and system platforms to provide real time information to customers, maintenance staff and engineering specialists.

The implementation of TrainDNA is likely to have significant benefits for those who operate and maintain rolling stock. The growth of new digital systems and data analytics in rail will require an ongoing adaption of the rail workforce.

“That’s where we see some of the challenges and the opportunities for rail companies in the future. Building new skill sets into the rail workforce is going to be key to unlocking these digital benefits that can flow into the sector.”

Where previously the skilled workforce in rail was confined to a few specific domains of engineering expertise, a new breed of skilled workforce is now needed.

“We no longer primarily need mechanical and electrical engineers, we also need people who can code, we need AI specialists, data scientists, virtual reality specialists, and more.” As such, the rail sector must be able to attract a whole new digital workforce.

“We’re not only competing with other transport providers for specialised blue and white collar workers, we’re also competing with other industry sectors such as finance, mining and tech giants like Google and Amazon,” Thomson said. “Too often, we focus on the technology, but a lot of the future solutions within the digital field will be expertise driven, they’ll be people-driven. The focus should be on a culture within the industry to build research and innovation capacity, but also to bring the right skill sets and expertise to utilise these new technologies most effectively.

“The biggest thing we have seen [during the CRC’s six-year term] has been a change in innovation culture. There are very talented young people who need to join the rail industry to propel it forwards, so the focus should be on the next generation of rail workers. I think that we’ve partly contributed to the industry realising that.

“We’ve got young researchers working on very exciting areas. At Monash University, we have multiple PhD students working on automating systems that can send drones onto tracks, into tunnels and even into the Pilbara region to automatically assess and monitor railway lines and the integrity of those systems.”

The main benefits to this are to get people out of danger, off the tracks and out of harsh environments, not only for safety reasons, but also to free them up to do other skilled jobs.

“It’s one thing to collect data, that’s the easy part, but it’s another thing to be able to automate, transmit and analyse it instantaneously, in real-time,” Thomson said.

The innovations that the Rail Manufacturing CRC has seen with the rise of the Internet of Things and other such emerging technologies has enabled a whole range of critical information to be captured, such as the integrity of rail infrastructure, the performance of equipment above and below rail, and the capacity to plan for future growth and safe operations of the networks.

Upon the completion of its term in June next year, Thomson tells Rail Express that a large part of the Rail Manufacturing CRC’s legacy lies in its initial commitment to collaboration.

“I think we’ve contributed to a realisation that collaboration between researchers and industry is a very good thing,” Thomson said. “The legacy that we’ve created is that collaboration between research organisations and the rail industry is assured.”

How can companies in the rail manufacturing space be more innovative?

“It’s simple,” Thomson concludes. “Hire, support and trust smart young people.”

Enhancing delivery in the age of the mega-project

Australia’s $100 billion infrastructure spending spree is seeing more companies tackling rail projects collaboratively. Rail Express spoke with project management software developer InEight about the benefits of effective collaboration.

 


The rise of billion-dollar rail infrastructure projects means that companies need to form joint ventures to undertake the wider scope of work in this space.

However, multiple companies and scores of team members can form tangled webs of people across several locations, often resulting in communication failures, schedule delays and increased costs. To address these challenges, forward-thinking companies are accelerating their uptake of technology.

Rob Bryant is executive vice president – Asia Pacific of capital project management software developer InEight. He says InEight, which offers solutions across a range of industries, sees a particular opportunity for rail projects, which are often among the most complicated, and involve the most stakeholders.

“From our experience, rail projects and rail infrastructure projects are fairly complex,” Bryant says. “There are a lot of different factors that come into play from a regulatory and safety point of view, as well as just the general engineering challenges you face when you’re laying down rail and integrating it with roads. Adding further complication, with the shift to move away from level crossings, you’ve got more sophisticated interchanges and points of integration with other infrastructure to contend with.

“The other thing is that these projects are bigger than we’ve ever seen before – those underway right now are anywhere between 5- and 12-billion-dollar undertakings. Over the course of time, they might take 3 to even 10 years to reach full completion.”

Bryant says storing millions of documents and then sharing them between collaborating parties can bet quite challenging.

“And making sure they’re all referencing the same, correct, most up-todate version of every document is of the utmost importance.”

So too is providing a common ground for that information. Even though companies embark on joint ventures, and form teams with agreements in place as to the terms of their collaboration, it’s important to remember they are all different organisations at the end of the day, he says. “Having that information shared in a neutral and secure environment that can remain confidential where it needs to is crucial.”

Accountability is another benefit of InEight’s document management and control solution: once entered into the system and sent, correspondence cannot be deleted or altered.

“This means you have a very good audit trail, which, in a multi-billion-dollar project, is very important because there’s a lot at stake, both financially and in terms of execution,” Bryant explains. He says the solution has saved project teams a lot of time in putting together progress reports, enabling significant productivity gains.

One project team on a level crossing project saved weeks of time each month, he recalls. “They used to compile a 40-page end-of-month report, that would take up to two weeks to prepare. Now they use our analytical tools to capture that information live, and can present it at any given time through the month, creating enormous savings in productivity, both in reporting as well as in the actual gathering of information.”

When it comes to managing on-site challenges, the ability to capture an engineering problem in the field, by taking a photo of it, uploading it through an app, and sharing it with the engineers and consultants back in the office, allows for issue resolution within a matter of hours rather than over the course of days.

End to end, InEight’s solutions streamline the project management process throughout the project life cycle. The company boasts a modular, interoperable platform that begins with estimating and scheduling tools, takes in document management and field execution, and follows through to operations and maintenance, with solutions to help in handover and long-term asset management.

How early in the project you realise gains in efficiency and cost controls depends on when you implement the technology, Bryant says. When it comes to scheduling, for example, where project teams previously needed to cobble together vast sums of information to create a plan from scratch, InEight’s planning, scheduling and risk tool allows them to benchmark current plans against previous work, for greater accuracy and efficiency than through traditional planning methods.

Addressing potential challenges proactively rather than reacting later on results in better outcomes and fewer missteps throughout a given project.

“All large engineering projects require significant investment from a bidding team,” Bryant explains, “and we’re often talking about millions of dollars being spent on a bid before they even win the work. So, being able to realise some efficiency and productivity gains in that stage, as they’re estimating for work, putting together proposed schedules and reviewing plans, is of enormous value to construction firms as they evaluate their role in these large rail projects.”

InEight’s planning, scheduling and risk tool is bolstered by artificial intelligence, enabling the benchmark of past project data and helping generate more accurate plans and forecasts faster.

“Basically our planning, scheduling and risk tool draws from a knowledge library of all past projects, which includes how long it took to build them, how long various stages took, and what resources and materials were used. From that data, the tool generates suggestions regarding the schedule for the current project you’re planning.

“Our scheduling and estimating tools help projects start off on the right foot by generating more accurate schedules you can actually stand by, rather than ones resulting in missed deadlines,” Bryant says. “It can actually effectively pull in a template of past schedules from other projects and see what is most appropriate as planners put together the new schedule. There’s a real intelligence being applied to it, so it’s no longer just a series of processes bolted together and guesses being made about the duration. Now people are able to make more informed decisions.”

Even at the end of the construction phase, which may itself take up to 10 years to complete, InEight’s solutions deliver benefits.

“The billion-dollar projects that are currently underway are complex structures, woven together with multi-use stations that include residential and commercial space,” Bryant says. “As such, these assets are going to be managed and utilised within communities in different ways for decades which has a lot of implications for gathering and managing data through the life cycle. InEight solutions enable long-term asset management.”

 

Contact: InEight.com

Smarter all the time: Local firm enhancing remote condition monitoring technologies

As the rail industry trends towards more efficient operating practices, MRD Rail Technologies managing director, Rob Gersbach, sees no limit to the application of predictive asset maintenance technology throughout the rail corridor.

 


“In the future, we believe all major rail assets will be remotely monitored by condition monitoring systems,” MRD managing director Rob Gersbach tells Rail Express. “These will be either built in by the manufacturers (smart) or implemented by third party integrations such as TrackSense. MRD are also working with points machine manufacturers to include TrackSense in their products.”

TrackSense is MRD’s predictive asset condition monitoring system. Relying on Australian-manufactured plug and play loggers designed to be robust, compact and affordable, TrackSense’s primary goal is to give meaning to data to allow the customer to make data driven maintenance decisions.

MRD has 30 years’ experience designing and manufacturing electronic equipment for the rail industry. Three years ago, it launched TrackSense to capitalise on this with a push into the growing space of predictive maintenance and condition monitoring. Now, Gersbach explains, MRD is moving to ensure it can help customers apply predictive asset condition monitoring to improve each of its core maintenance tasks.

“We see all trackside location cabinets (LOCs) being transformed into ‘Smart LOCs’ containing remote condition monitoring systems capable of monitoring all assets within the LOC using one Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) Logger,” he said. “Price has been a major barrier to achieving this in the past but this has rapidly changed due to competition and technology such as cloud hosting. MRD has adopted this technology and is at the forefront of the movement towards affordable open platform RCM solutions.”

Gersbach says one of the key benefits of TrackSense for his customers is that it is open protocol.

“Open protocol solutions will become the standard in RCM solutions as this gives the customer security, independence and the flexibility to shop around for the most competitive hosting solution and analytics package of their choice,” he said. “It also allows for easy integration with the customer’s Asset Maintenance System.”

This preference towards open protocol is also being driven by specialisation of analytics platforms from major computing vendors.

“We are also seeing the emergence of sophisticated big data analytics packages by vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon to name a few,” Gersbach explained. “TrackSense provides API integration with these systems as standard which allows the customer to tap into the power of these systems including advanced machine learning and AI systems as they emerge.”

Since it was launched three years ago, TrackSense has grown to now collect data and measure various parameters of condition in thousands of railway assets across Australia and in international markets.

Product manager Yvie Hough says through a continued focus on listening to and communicating with customers, the TrackSense team hopes to refine its state-of-the-art approach, and help new and existing customers best take advantage of what it has to offer.

“The MRD team has been working closely with our customers to refine and improve our solution to provide a robust, easy to install system that is user friendly and provides valuable information to users,” Hough said.

Despite operational savings being a core benefit of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance systems, one major obstacle MRD has seen operators struggle to overcome is simply the cost of installing and maintaining a condition monitoring system, and the inflexibility of many common solutions available in the market.

“Some vendors charge exorbitant amounts for hardware and lock customers into fixed contracts,” Gersbach said. “The obvious downside to this is that should you decide to break ties with the vendor or they go out of business, you’re basically left with an expensive paperweight.”

Taking a different approach, the MRD loggers used in the TrackSense solution are not bound to that system.

“Yes, we offer a local or cloud server option for accessing the data, but this is optional as our loggers are capable of stand-alone operation,” Gersbach explained. “Our loggers log, process and alarm directly from the device without the need for external servers or software.

“This gives the customer total ownership and control of their hardware and data.”

MRD has recently expanded monitoring capabilities of TrackSense through the addition of new sensors and communication protocols for its range of loggers.

“This sets our customers up for future expansion,” Gersbach said. “They can start off monitoring points machines, then expand to monitoring track circuits, batteries, boom gates, earth leakage and more just by adding additional sensors.”

Another recent addition to the TrackSense offering is a mobile App, which literally puts key data in the operator’s hands, providing a convenient way to view asset performance both on and off site.

Auto-tuning

One misconception Gersbach says he always aims to address is that a condition monitoring solution will provide maximum results from day one.

“When implementing a condition monitoring solution it’s important to understand it’s not a set and forget solution. It requires operator training, tuning and data input from the user,” he said.

To address this, MRD has developed tried and tested workflows to help operators get started with condition monitoring. The TrackSense team will also work with the customer to refine that workflow to their individual needs.

“Our auto-tuning feature will get you up and running fast and our teach feature will keep the system performing optimally,” Gersbach added. “We use shape recognition to identify anomalies, and KPIs are extracted from logged parameters and used to gauge an assets health and identify trends. All positive alerts and alarms are sent to the system’s fault library and fed back into the system to improve the systems performance. This library is also available for reference and training purposes.”

Critical to this is the use of machine learning to refine how data is analysed.

“The primary output of any condition monitoring system is data. Performing complex analysis of data collected from hundreds or thousands of sensors is a tedious and time-consuming activity, beyond the capabilities of human operators.”

By putting machine learning to work, Gersbach says TrackSense can help operators maximise the value of predictive maintenance while keeping costs down. MRD designs and builds hardware, and develops its software and applications locally in Australia. Along with TrackSense, the company also provides EarthSense, a solution for detecting earth leakage; and RelaySense, a solution to test the condition of relays.

 

Contact: TrackSense.com.au