Industry Infrastructure, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Operations and Maintenance, Rail Express features, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Signalling, Signalling, Signalling & Communications, Signalling & Communications, Victoria

Made in Australia, for Australia

DT Infrastructure’s home-grown technology for asset management has been successfully rolled out on the Waurn Ponds to Warrnambool line in Victoria and now they are looking to bring it to the rest of Australia.

DT Infrastructure is fast climbing the ranks of the Australian rail sector, leading the way in rail asset management solutions. With a team of more than 250 rail systems specialists, the well-established constructor is working on some of the most complex rail and infrastructure projects in the country.

Underpinning this capability in rail is DT Infrastructure’s whole-of-life asset management strategy, which includes a suite of interconnected technology solutions that sit within its patented TrackDNA platform.

The key to the success of this technology and the increased efficiency of signalling infrastructure is the continuous collection, monitoring and analytics of data from the client’s rail assets.

It provides insights into usage patterns, allowing for informed decision-making regarding asset optimisation, renewal, or replacement. With further analytics, customers can demonstrate compliance to asset management frameworks, monitor asset depreciation (remaining life) and ultimately, enhance overall operational effectiveness and longevity.

By effectively harnessing this data, DT Infrastructure can effectively identify potential issues and inefficiencies for clients earlier, allowing for proactive maintenance to minimise the risk of costly interruptions to rail operations.

The TrackDNA technology has been developed locally to suit the Australian market. IMAGE: DT Infrastructure

TrackDNA

TrackDNA enables infrastructure owners to aggregate fragmented rail systems technology and assets into a single, unified platform that allows for a whole of life diagnostic approach to improving rail asset performance.

The system adopted and developed technology agnostic, using standard market interfaces that can connect with all commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) third-party systems. The digitisation of rail systems assets enables rail operators and asset owners to better understand the condition of their assets, gain valuable insights on the performance of their assets, and make decisions to optimise their performance.

Wije Nallathamby is the Operations Manager for DT Infrastructure’s Rail Systems Engineering group, and he spoke with Rail Express to explain the highly effective system.

“We first launched TrackDNA on the 200-kilometre Warrnambool line,” he said.

“It was originally commissioned in May of 2022, and it will be next commissioned in August of 2024 as part of another project extension on the corridor. The platform can collect any form of digital data which is tailored to customer’s maintenance requirements, so we don’t collate it all just for the sake of it. We worked closely with our customers and end users to understand what data was important to them.

“Our client now has two years of data and has seen improved performance, demonstrating the benefits of using TrackDNA. This has helped us expand the use of the platform even further.”

Work on the Geelong and Warrnambool Line Upgrade being delivered by DT Infrastructure deployed two key pieces of technology within the TrackDNA suite of products: The TrackDNA-InControl train control system which monitors rail traffic along the corridor,  and the TrackDNA-InSupport maintenance support system which collects data from trackside assets and feeds back to the end user V/Line to improve the performance of operations.

Trackside assets monitored on this project included:

  • InControl train control system
  • Alstom’s signalling interlocking systems
  • Alstom’s object controllers
  • Siemens’ axle counter system
  • Level crossings
  • Siemens’ network switches and routers
  • Power supplies, UPS and generators
  • Voestalpine point condition monitoring
  • Equipment temperature sensors
  • Rail temperature sensors
  • Vital servers and gateway platforms
  • Alarm management.

Wije explained that a lot of other comparable technology available utilise generic web service platforms to aggregate the data, which can become expensive as the volume of data grows.

“We don’t want to put the whole system into data paralysis, so we capture only what we need and provide the information that will make a difference back to the client,” he said.

“Many organisations will come in and provide all the data which becomes nearly impossible to discern and manage.

“We supply the data that is needed to allow simple visualisations that are tailored for the end user.”

Transferrable across Australia

Wije explained that DT Infrastructure’s claim to fame is that its technology is agnostic. In other words, it uses common language interfaces to connect assets and the system can be picked up and utilised across a variety of networks.

“This means our system can talk to any other system type,” he said.

“Our technology is highly customisable and highly adaptable, which allows us to capture what the customer needs, in a way that’s meaningful to them.

“For our customers it’s all about the whole of life of the asset and whether they want to extend the life of that asset or reduce the maintenance schedule – that is where TrackDNA comes in.

A team of rail specialists has been working hard to develop the technology. IMAGE: DT Infrastructure

The development team always had the desire to make this system customisable for the Australian market, where rail operations across states are often completely different. So instead of clients needing to source a specific or tailored system from Europe, our system is already designed to Australian rail requirements and conditions which could be seamlessly deployed and adopted in any network in Australia.

“We want to take our clients on the journey with us as we expand the use of this technology. We are starting on a smaller scale and taking incremental steps. We’re confident that in the coming years, our approach will become prevalent in the market.

“Rail in Australia is heavily regulated so we are committed to proving this can work by slowly implementing it and proving its effectiveness to regulators.”

Rail maintenance  

Wije explained that rail networks across Australia often have vastly different requirements, which is why DT Infrastructure, and its technology is suited to our national market.

“For us it is about ensuring we have perfected our core competencies which we then scale them to meet the needs of our partners,” he said.

“We faced some challenges and solved some complex problems, for example on the Warrnambool line, where the length of track involved meant we had to roll out the program in stages to ensure we were communicating effectively with the existing systems.

“We wanted to make a commitment to innovate on that project and show the benefits of homegrown technology. We can say that while this success was born out of Victoria – it is just as well suited to the rest of Australia.”

Wije explained that one key asset for the company is that it is a national organisation that has experience across numerous networks.

“Our intellectual property sits at the national level so it can be passed down to individual networks,” he said.

“So, we are perfectly placed really. A technology that can be tailored for the network it’s required on and national business with knowledge of the different rail networks across the country and the things that make them unique. It means we will always be able to build the right solution.”

“It’s the combination of both that sets us up as a key partner for Australian networks.”