Optimizing lifetime return on assets using the digital railway | So Good News
The majority of the railway infrastructure is from a pre-digital area. Track maintenance is focused on preventive measures and ensuring optimal operating conditions through regular track walks and regular inspection of equipment and historical use of consumables, but the sheer scale of the track infrastructure poses enormous limitations to what can be achieved. Experience and best practices work to some extent, but nothing compares to real-time performance analysis generated by digital solutions. These provide the opportunity to set KPIs for maintenance teams and operators that can measure return on value.
However, a major challenge for railways is connecting non-connected assets with network-enabled equipment. So how do we manage connectivity in these cases and how do we provide analytics that are useful to customers and network operators?
It is widely recognized that cutting-edge technologies applied to all aspects of rail – from remote performance monitoring of on-track and on-board friction management to digital asset monitoring and digital asset maintenance – unlock real value through proactive and proactive asset management.
LB Foster has developed a range of intelligent digital solutions that enable traditional products, such as our trackside PROTECTOR X friction applicators, to provide detailed performance data via email, SMS and 3/4G connectivity. Sensors monitor when consumables are running low on the track, so that preventive maintenance can be carried out.
Total track monitoringTM by LB Foster creates a smart interface between conventional rail products and intelligent performance monitoring of digital technologies, delivering always-on data that improves asset performance, increases cost efficiency, improves safety and aids safety. When combined with our Total Track ManagementTM portfolio of high-performance track products integrated with our market-leading on-board and trackside friction management solutions, the combination provides extended life and improved asset performance.
Moving away from manual
In the past, maintenance of railway track and infrastructure has depended on timely preventive interventions, such as walking the track and having a historical understanding of the use of consumables. The thousands of kilometers of track and unpredictable asset performance can make this approach both difficult and inaccurate.
The move by train operators to run more services closer together continues to gain momentum. The need for a safer and more reliable approach is driving the introduction of new, smart technologies that remove the manual aspect of running the railway, providing data and analytics on which informed decisions and investments can be based.
External condition monitoring
LB Foster’s selection of smart monitoring solutions covers a diverse collection of railway operational and safety challenges. We have smart solutions that cope with state challenges such as rockfalls, floods, avalanches and embankments, for the protection of physical assets such as bridge attacks and level crossings. In addition, our smart sensor technologies are used to monitor maintenance cycles for track friction management, wheel loading, wheel sensing and safety monitoring.
Data from remote monitoring solutions is fed back to a central server. This allows operators to query information to determine actions, as well as being able to build profiles of behavior and events and take the necessary actions.
LB Foster’s Monitoring of rock falls the solution uses LiDAR technology to detect rock fall and whether there is still an obstacle on the track, its size and its position in the zone prone to rock fall.
Data collection and analyses
Monitoring the performance and operational health of assets across the network requires our solutions to be remotely addressable via IP networks, 4G/5G networks and telecommunications. Analysis of this critical information by maintenance, infrastructure management and network operations teams shapes decisions about when, where, what and how to target spend and resources. In addition, it is important that the data we deliver has a seamless interface with existing railway control systems.
Low energy and solar energy
Alongside our smart digital solutions, we use several innovative low-energy battery technologies, as well as rechargeable solar-powered options such as CCTV. This means that once in the field, our solutions continue to work, delivering mission-critical data that saves costs and enables informed decisions about operations and maintenance. The always-on power source ensures that grid owners and train operators can operate continuously.
The overall benefits of proactive maintenance include advance planning of train and track maintenance, with spare parts stocked in time. Individual assets can be better monitored to predict consumption needs and maintenance requirements. This promotes a smoother running railway, allows higher trainset density on track utilization and provides better passenger satisfaction and better return on rail costs, while reducing the number of serious infrastructure failures. In addition, this promotes better budget planning and future upgrades, and ultimately better passenger experience and overall safety.