“Intelligent” voestalpine turnouts with diagnostic instruments facilitate maintenance and prevent failures.
Turnouts are the heart of rail systems. Their importance to critical safety and availability is reflected in high-tech equipment as well as special maintenance requirements.
Failures of these important systems lead to delays, additional costs and image losses. To date regular maintenance intervals have helped prevent serious disruptions, but these are associated with extensive costs. This is where globally proven, internal system diagnostic and monitoring technologies such as the ROADMASTER® from voestalpine SIGNALING kick in. Functioning similarly to an “onboard ECG”, these systems record turnout data including hydraulic pressure for positioning, temperatures, power consumption for defined functions or repositioning.
Prevention not intervention
"Just like a preventative medical checkup, we record the vital parameters of “intelligent turnouts”. If they deteriorate, then a serious illness–a failure–needs to be prevented."
Monitoring systems on the turnouts record and diagnose symptoms, and then report critical conditions to the network operator who can subsequently initiate inspections and repairs. Rather than taking elaborate preventative maintenance measures in advance, irrespective of the actual state of the assets, maintenance activities can be optimized to reflect actual requirements.
Proven their worth
Pölinger notes that, in part, these diagnostic tools are currently still regarded as an added extra, over and above the absolutely vital safety-relevant technologies used in conventional signaling technology. However, innovative rail operators are preparing themselves for the advent of challenging tasks in which diagnostic and monitoring technologies will play a key role in contributing to required levels of profitability. Major rail operators have relied on this technology for many years. They include the:
- Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)
- Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB)
- German Federal Railway (DB)
- High-speed line in Taiwan (THSRC), and
- numerous local transport companies in Germany and Austria.
They optimize maintenance routes and times, increase network availability, and reduce life cycle costs. Consequently, in future self-diagnosing and reporting turnouts are sure to play an important role in “digitalized railways”.