Condition Monitoring

If you see it, you can monitor it

With well over 200 systems deployed worldwide and multiple site installations on every inhabited continent, Wabtec is leading the way with asset monitoring.

In 2015 a business by the name of C2CE, specialising in railway signalling, communications and control systems was acquired by Wabtec Corporation and became what is now known as Wabtec Control Systems. The business has since grown year-on-year in the signalling market and expanded their service offering to become a quality provider of railway signalling, control systems, industrial electrical and communications solutions, safe working and track protection services to the Australian railway market.

WCS is also a major global supplier of wayside condition monitoring equipment and data analytics. In 2015 Wabtec acquired the Australian company, Track IQ, a global leader in acoustic bearing monitoring, weigh in motion and wheel impact load detection, among other things. Through further product development and acquisition, the WCS Asset Monitoring division now boasts one of the largest portfolios of wayside condition monitoring systems on the market.

The product portfolio, known as the Track IQ range, has evolved to include products for monitoring of bearings (axle and traction motors), WIM/WILD systems, train noise monitoring, bogie geometry monitoring, thermal imaging products, including hot bearing/wheel detectors (HBD), and a full range of machine vision capability, including monitoring of wheels, brakes and couplers.

“If we can see it, we can monitor it,” said John Dowie, Wabtec Control Systems general manager business development.

“We now have well over 200 systems deployed worldwide, with multiple site installations on every inhabited continent and system support located globally to ensure we can meet the needs of our customers wherever they are.

“As a Wabtec company we have the capability to support our customers wherever they are.”

Dowie said it was this “focus on the customer” that was central to the work of the WCS asset monitoring team.

“The evolution of our Track IQ portfolio is in response to our customers and market needs,” he said.

“We listen to our customers and aim to provide products to meet their need and add value to their business. We know our products improve railway safety, increase operational efficiency and, if applied correctly, can significantly reduce cost of maintenance.”

Dowie said their technology was designed to inspect rollingstock in an operational environment, either depot-based or on main line installations. Inspection activities can be undertaken during normal operating hours while a train is in service, reducing the time required for inspection upon arrival at the maintenance facility.

“There are also significant benefits that are less well understood. Working with our customers we can extend the value of our asset monitoring technology to drive additional benefits including realigning the structure of maintenance cycles, improving asset utilisation and gaining greater efficiency and throughout of maintenance facilities,” he said.

 “We have worked with our customers to fully automate the process from defect identification right through to production of a maintenance work order.”

A holistic approach

Customers are beginning to understand the benefits of a holistic approach to asset monitoring technology.

“While the majority of our installations have, in the past, been limited to one or two systems, we are working with an increasing number of customers who are rolling out supersites to undertake major inspection of a range of rolling stock components,” Dowie said.

“This can be done as a single large-scale installation or can be built on an incremental basis using our modular based capabilities.”

System design is focussed on ease of installation, with minimal impact on railway maintenance activities, and are, of course designed to withstand the harsh environments experienced by railways around the world.

Once installed, systems can be remotely monitored to ensure maximum system reliability and operation.

All systems are supplied with the Track IQ FleetONE data management software. FleetONE unifies all wayside data into one easy to use easy to use software packages backed by a powerful data warehousing back end. FleetONE also provides the ability to trend any measurement parameter over time and to compose complex searches to retrieve condition information. Once composed, a search can be re-run at any time and emailed out as a scheduled report or alert. As such, identifying defective components within FleetONE is as simple as clicking a button or receiving an email. Add the ability to interface with an asset monitoring system and FleetONE really shows its strength as a powerful addition to the asset monitoring suite of tools.

Growth potential

Dowie said the Track IQ portfolio was continuously growing with new technology playing a part.

“Most recently we have developed thermal imaging capability, which includes our ThermalCAM  and Hot Box Detector (HBD)

 “That combined with our data analytics software really means we can provide from trackside collection of data through to provision of information right up to integrating with data management systems and workshop work orders.”

More broadly Wabtec offers a complete portfolio of digital solutions, including products like EdgeLINC, a comprehensive edge device lifecycle management platform providing IIoT connectivity, data flow management, device management and streaming analytics at the edge and the back office driving significant improvements in asset performance and operational efficiency. Wabtec’s Movement Planner provides real-time rail traffic planning and optimisation, enabling freight to move more efficiently using existing rail networks and products like Trip Optimiser provides live information on efficient train handling. According to Dowie, companies like Wabtec have tremendous ability to add value.

“In an industry that is going through significant change and a requirement for efficiency, reliability, greater asset utilisation, and an ever-increasing move towards automation, it will be companies like Wabtec that will support railways of the future on this journey,” Dowie said.