"The demand for precise data is increasing – especially with the rising introduction of digital solutions such as cloud based systems. Wayside sensors are the most reliable source for this."
Staying innovative and keeping pace with new developments is quite a challenge these days. At this year’s InnoTrans in Berlin, Frauscher Sensor Technology helped provide the evidence that this is indeed possible. The supplier of wheel sensors and axle counters presented a new, intelligent sensor that works like a smart device on track and is connected to a data hub in the indoor electronics. It also extended its portfolio by completely new solutions based on their Frauscher Tracking Solutions FTS.
Wayside sensors: Basis for the future
Under the motto: "Discover intelligent sensors. Innovations to simplify railway operations", the technology company demonstrated that wayside sensors will continue to play a central role in the railway world in the future – if they start harnessing digital ideas. "Based on this conviction we presented completely new business models at this year’s InnoTrans, together with very innovative approaches of supporting our customers in making their railway operation safer and much more efficient," says Michael Thiel, the CEO of Frauscher Sensor Technology.
Christian Pucher, the CMO of Frauscher Sensor Technology explains the concept: "We are essentially pursuing two strategies: On one hand, we are further developing existing products with ideas arising from digitalisation. On the other hand, we are building on completely new approaches that only became possible with digitalisation. This includes, for example, the use of distributed acoustic sensing in the railway sector. Thereby we are able to solve key challenges which railway operators face today. I'd says the stream of visitors we had at InnoTrans showed that this concept was well received.
The demand for precise data is increasing – especially with the rising introduction of digital solutions such as cloud based systems," adds Pucher. "Wayside sensors are the most reliable source for this. The ideal of many operators, however, is to reduce the number of components on the track at the same time. At InnoTrans 2018, we were able to present several solutions that meet the requirements of this field of tension,"
Smart device on the track
A highlight that the technology company presented in Berlin was the innovative SENSiS system with its new sensor: the SENSiS Detection Point SDP. The design of the device and the associated rail claw really pulled in the crowds. The sensor not only detects trains reliably, the SDP also evaluates the wheel sensor signals and digitises them. It also collects a number of other data, such as acceleration and temperature, which are evaluated in the sensor, processed and made available to a network in a useful format.
With this sensor concept, all the requirements to modern axle counters are met – and the entire indoor equipment is eliminated as far as possible. The SDP is only connected to a newly developed SENSiS Processing Unit SPU via a specifically developed bus system. The bus enables the establishment of a ring architecture instead of star-shaped cabling, which therefore has massive cost savings. Summing up the launch, Pucher says: "The possibility of sending data from the indoor system to the sensor is also particularly promising for the future. What we showed at InnoTrans is the prototype, which will now be further developed on the basis of initial installations. All innovations can then simply be distributed to the sensors in the field by means of software updates. In 2019, we will implement the first projects with this system and go through the approval process – we have already had concrete enquiries."
If you didn't make it to InnoTrans this year, you can have a closer look at SENSiS here.
With the further development of Frauscher Tracking Solutions FTS, the company presented more highlights. For improved train tracking, the focus was on accuracy and reliability in the detection of a train’s front and rear end, travelling speed and direction. This enables an accurate and continuous calculation of the arrival time at a specific point. Various applications, such as passenger information or platform announcements, can thus be optimised. The ongoing information, on train position and speed profiles, enables more efficient traffic management. The type, year of construction and origin of the track vehicles detected are irrelevant.
The track on the screen – in real time
Additionally, the further developed FTS provides railway operators and service companies with an interface that maps the condition of track and infrastructure in real time. Changes in the condition of various components – track, track bed, sleepers, wheels and more – are detected and displayed on a user interface in a clear form for the first time. In addition to the optimised possibilities for train detection, this solution attracted a great deal of interest.
"We already have around 30 FTS installations in use worldwide. Various applications are being tested there, including condition monitoring. We see particularly great potential in this field," says Pucher, explaining the latest developments. "Therefore, we have focused heavily on this when optimising the system – and have made exciting progress. We now want to work more closely with operators, system integrators and partners. As announced at InnoTrans, we are already doing this with Vossloh and Siemens Mobility. Their expertise in the maintenance sector and our know-how in the detection of trains and various events along a track will rapidly drive the development of condition-oriented maintenance strategies further."
Standing out from the crowd
|Watch Frauscher's InnoTrans video here.|
Pucher goes on to explain: "With our axle counters and wheel sensors, we are the global market leader. In order to secure this position, we want to continue to offer the best solution for all scenarios in the future. Availability, functionality, quality, service and economy are always in focus. In addition, new requirements are constantly being added, such as increased network capability and options for flexible adaptation by means of software updates or the integration of additional sensors. It is clear to us that we – as well as the whole industry – have to maximise the use we make of digitalisation. At InnoTrans 2018, we demonstrated how we approach this: we combined proven features and sound know-how with new possibilities. And after the numerous discussions I had – included at the Frauscher stand party on Tuesday night –I am sure we’re on the right track.”