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Sophisticated connectivity with KeTech DAS

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The DAS used by KeTech was developed with drivers to allow them to gain a complete picture of the current state of the rails along the train route.

The rail industry is feeling the pressure to do more on its journey to net-zero; not only because the time is right, but to mitigate the direct effects climate change has on the rails.

In Australia, the direct effects of climate change are already being seen, from extreme heat to bush fires and floods.

These stresses on Australian infrastructure range from disruption, to supply distribution issues, to downtime of infrastructure assets due to these weather events.

The industry is welcoming innovation to meet its targets, but with some at such an early stage it creates uncertainty for decision makers in terms of choosing the right option.

A lot of work is ahead if the industry is going to deliver real progress.

One key weapon in its fight to deliver decarbonisation will be technology, both in improving the efficiency of IT functions and in harnessing it to unlock new ways of transforming operations and ways of working.

As KeTech technical consultant Graham Cooke explains, when it comes to prime movers, heavy haulage rail and long-distance logistics, Australia’s current stock is predominantly diesel with no other real options available.

“The difference in regulations between states impacts the speed of the transition from diesel to cleaner options, most notably in freight, due to the required reviews and approvals from all jurisdictions to ensure they meet the regulations of each state,” he said.

“The replacement of diesel engines for rail freight traversing this large continent at this very moment would continue to be limited as the infrastructure to support cleaner options doesn’t exist.

“Range anxiety is real and problematic for this green transition and will only be addressed when underlying infrastructure is constructed for EVs, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), renewable biofuels and hydrogen powered vehicles which will take a considerable amount of time to implement.

“As the Australian rail industry works towards implementing a wider infrastructure strategy, there are technologies that can be applied now to current assets, not only to significantly improve efficiency, but to minimise waste and limit resource use.”

RECOGNISING POTENTIAL

Driver Advisory Systems (DAS) are rapidly being recognised as the route to optimising the performance of trains in helping to reduce energy consumption.

There are many DAS products on the market, but the degree of sophistication the system possesses, will of course affect the level of optimisation.

DAS has evolved significantly over the years, but it’s important to recognise the distinction that has been made between connected (C-DAS) systems and stand-alone (S-DAS/DAS).

“The latter is your less sophisticated advisory system, working only on the pre-planned timetable; meaning the advice it gives may not be useful if for any reason the trains planned paths is unavailable,” Cooke said.

“Train drivers’ situational awareness is limited to the process of driving their own train. They are able to perceive the state of the train they are driving via indicators such as, ATP, feedback from the engine and wheels, and the track ahead within their vision.

“Train drivers know how this information affects the train and so they can decide how to apply engine power and brakes to reach a certain speed, acceleration, and retardation, combined with a smooth and comfortable ride.

“However, train drivers completely lack any situational awareness concerning the traffic situation. This still rings true even with a stand-alone DAS fitted, due to the fact that S-DAS runoff static data, meaning train drivers’ only source of information is predefined timetables.

“Based on this, they can only assume everything is according to the original plan. As soon as the situation deviates, which is a regular occurrence in the complex and dynamic train traffic process, the DAS is ultimately rendered useless.

“The technology that we implement on our infrastructure assets now needs to be able to meet future needs in a net-zero environment, be flexible and able to adapt in the face of a changing climate.”

Cooke said KeTech’s C-DAS was developed with drivers to allow them to gain a complete picture of the current state of the rails, including changes in the traffic situation and operational plans due to the systems’ real-time data feeds and constant recalculation of the driving profile, taking into consideration the external elements affecting the train’s route.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO C-DAS

 

The KeTech C-DAS won the Challenge and Innovate Award at the Siemens Mobility Rolling Stock and Customer Services UK Conference in 2020.

 

It’s important to note that all C-DAS on the market (and currently in service) are not built the same.

“KeTech’s C-DAS is more intelligent and better connected with data exchange between the wayside and the train happening constantly order to provide truly real-time information, which means the system has high availability and high performance,” Cooke said.

“KeTech’s system analyses all of the data on the wayside and transmits this to the train in real-time, avoiding many of the interoperability issues that have arisen with other systems on the market.”

KeTech’s C-DAS is fully signalling-connected, unlike other systems that are only connected to GPS, which allows the system to understand the current traffic situation supporting drivers to develop a much more comprehensive situational awareness, enabling them to adapt an optimal driving profile addressing a number of existing and emerging challenges:

  • Increased rail network capacity
  • Improvement in punctuality and adherence to timetable
  • Significant reduction in fuel usage and industry carbon emissions, reducing operational costs in turn
  • Improvement in recovery from disruption
  • Reduction in operational incidents

The award-winning C-DAS that KeTech created was developed with drivers and train builders.

“As many companies who have tried to create a true C-DAS will know, it’s not an easy job unless you have extensive experience and knowledge inrail infrastructure and rolling stock,” Cooke said.

“Fortunately, KeTech does – over 20 years actually! That’s why KeTech has been able to create a truly situationally aware system that is as dynamic as the railways.

“Unlike other systems, KeTech’s C-DAS provides concrete driving advice to drivers, indicating recommended speed and other essential information regarding the route.

“Ensuring the right balance of detail in the advice is crucial to avoid additional mental workload for drivers.

“Traditionally C-DAS require a Traffic Management System, however KeTech’s C-DAS doesn’t. To provide all the benefits, it is connected to the signalling system and multiple other data sources to fill the absence of a TMS.

“KeTech built C-DAS with TMS in mind, providing all the benefits now, but having the capability to sit underneath one when it is rolled out.”

From product functionality to installation, KeTech’s C-DAS is a versatile system providing the route towards reduced carbon emissions in more ways than one.

The system can be especially environmentally beneficial for trains relying on friction brakes, such as freight due to the energy saving speed profiles that seek to minimise energy loss through braking; in turn, maintenance savings will be made as a result of reduced brake wear and tear.

RETRO-FIT TO BE FUTURE-FIT

Spending money on retrofitting means less money spent on energy – investment rather than consumption spending.

The modularity and scalability of KeTech’s C-DAS allows flexible deployment.

It can be delivered as an integrated system, displayed on an iPad style device in the cab, or on existing hardware in the cab.

“KeTech recognises each operator may have different needs and requirements, so we developed it with endless possibilities of personalisation. Just ask the question,” Cooke said.