Seamless monitoring for improving Rail Transport Safety

A new kind of human-machine communication is to make it possible to detect damage to rail vehicles before it’s too late and service trains only when they need it – all thanks to a cloud-supported, wireless network of sensors.

A train running on damaged wheels could easily be heading for serious trouble. This is why German national rail corporation Deutsche Bahn continuously monitors the wheelsets of its intercity express trains – a process that costs a considerable amount of time and money.

Researchers at the Berlin-based Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM are collaborating with industry partners to develop a solution that ensures a great safety while reducing effort and cost. “We want to root out any damage early on and move away from maintenance at set intervals in favor of condition-based maintenance,” explains Dr. Michael Niedermayer, microsystems engineer and head of the IZM’s Technology-Oriented Design Methods working group. He is also project coordinator for “Mobile Sensor Systems for Condition-Based Maintenance,” or MoSe for short.

It’s all based on a cloud-supported, wireless network of sensors. Every axle and undercarriage on a train is fitted with small radio sensors, which collect data on the condition of wearing parts. These data are then transferred to the online maintenance cloud, where the measurement and analysis data are encrypted and stored ready for use.


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