Engineering, Rolling stock & Rail Vehicle Design, Safety, Standards & Regulation, Technology and IT

Digitisation adds new dimension to track maintenance

Specialty machine supplier Plasser Australia outlines its contribution to a “new era” in track construction and maintenance.

Plasser is using the latest in sensor and communications technology to give its customers direct access to machine data.

Through the company’s PlasserDatamatic 2.0 module, operators can monitor their machine through a desktop, smartphone or tablet, with live information covering the location and condition of the machine, the operations it is performing, and the condition of the track below it.

“The industry is moving towards data collection, and PlasserDatamatic fills this purpose,” Plasser Australia tells Rail Express. “For us, the next step was to connect a modem to the machine, and over the GSM network, analyse this data from afar.

“You can have engineers sitting in offices, rather than on machines, collecting data. This is ideally suited to perform preventative maintenance – predictive maintenance. The system also helps minimise downtime: If you have a fault, you can get online and pinpoint what the issue is.”

Plasser’s technology allows a wide range of factors to be measured, and reported back to base constantly.

The PlasserDatamatic program provides, in a single point of access:

  • Geo fence: a machine’s area of application can be defined, and when the it reaches or leaves this boundary, a message can be triggered. This system can be used to tell schedulers whether a project is on schedule or not.
  • Last events: A machine’s log entries are accessible and retraceable for one week.
  • Integrated user help: All data on the machine is available via one access point. Operating instructions are stored in PlasserDatamatic.
  • Event Wiki: Comments function for self-help. Recurring entries can be documented. Comments provide comprehensive help, independent of a single operator.
  • Dashboards for personalised configuration: Every user selects the machine parameters in the dashboard and creates a customised display.
  • Servicing: Reports of the MachineMaintenanceGuide (MMG) can be accessed centrally, including photos, check lists, notes and even audio files.

Plasser says the system can keep operators abreast of “anything from engine oil pressure, to battery voltage, right through to the condition of your hydraulic oil”.

From a production perspective, measuring systems can be fitted as means of increasing productivity.

“Operators are under increasing pressure to reduce maintenance costs and increase utilisation of the track occupation windows, as this increased track availability makes the railway competitive with other modes of transportation.”

Plasser says its machine-enabled measuring and monitoring can generate smart data, and a virtual track, which allows maintenance to be more efficient. There are many benefits to be gained from such systems.

“The quality of the works performed can be immediately inspected by the customer,” the company says. “The number of people in the danger zone is reduced. Works can be inspected from an office environment.

“The combination of trends and intelligent assessment methods makes it possible to analyse and recommend predictive maintenance actions for the track infrastructure.”

The wide reach of Plasser machines and data collected around the globe means the company is constantly able to improve its off ering to customers.

“If we receive information from a number of operators and see that there is a trend forming in one particular piece of equipment or system, then we can start looking at the potential cause of that, and get to a root analysis,” the company explains.

This information is also helping Plasser in developing new and improved products. As an analogy, “when you take a modern car to be serviced, the OEM can connect to the vehicle with a laptop, analyse the data if something has failed, see when it failed, and diagnose the probable causes as to why it failed”.

“This is an industry-wide movement, and what we’re off ering our customers is right at the forefront of this progress.”

Visit: www.plasser.com.au

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