CORDIS - EU research results

Advanced wheel measuring system for greater rail sector’s profitability

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WheelWatcher (Advanced wheel measuring system for greater rail sector’s profitability)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-05-31

The railway industry is experiencing a new boost, thanks to the implementation of high speed and the possibility of the use of clean energy. However, this sector requires the high-tech monitoring systems that allow them to carry out the predictive maintenance and control the quality of their equipment more frequently, faster and cheaper. The final aim of WheelWatcher project is to introduce a new wheel wear status monitoring and control system in main tracks of Europe and worldwide, providing rail transport operators with accurate and real-time information to drive preventive maintenance actions.

The railway operators can benefit vastly from instant information taking decisions about when the maintenance must be carried out and detecting critical errors. This is one of the reasons to need an automatic measuring system in busy railway lines. However, the use of high technology in wayside locations has been postponed due to lack of appropriate thermal insulation and laser systems.

The potential and the interest of automatic systems have been confirmed by customers in different meetings taken before the WheelWatcher project. Some key features/concepts have been detected in the ramp up process to be developed during this project to drive a correct exploitation plan and to consolidate future Business Models of this promising system/technologies:

• High speed accuracy
• Robustness of the equipment
• Easy Calibration
• Self-diagnosis

WheelWatcher project will leverage the already developed algorithms to produce an industrial solution to replicate the promising behaviour shown in laboratory trials under real working conditions, thus creating a powerful tool to keep under control rolling stock. Endorsed by European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC), WheelWatcher increases the security of the passenger, reduce the frequency of the checking of the trains, boost new techniques to prevent derailment and promote policies of maintenance more embedded in the rail sector. The WheelWatcher aims to introduce to the market a new generation of measuring system with accuracy, robustness, fast installation and low-level maintenance.
This project is divided into 7 work packages (WP). The aim of the first workpackage was to collect all the relevant information needed to install a wayside measuring system on a track. The research was focused on the European regulations but also on target countries. Moreover, this equipment is based on lasers technologies among other elements, specific regulation about these technologies was identified and analysed. Danobat, as the main project coordinator, and Euskotren acting as the final user of the equipment, identified key points to build a wayside reliable system regardless of environmental conditions. The demonstrator has been installed in one of the rail lines operated by Euskotren and managed by ETS_RFV as infrastructure manager.

The aim of WP-2 is to guarantee an environmental independence of the system by using a Peltier-cooling/heating-system to stabilize the temperature inside the enclosure of the system. To calculate the cooling-/heating-capacity and the performance of the device a thermal simulation was programmed. The calculation includes a lot of different range of values and factors. Moreover, a dehumidifier section is included. The custom-made Peltier-Cells were manufactured and they are validated in the laboratory and on the track. The results show a great product. Dr. Neuman is thinking to patent the dehumidifier section.

The objective of WP-3 is to develop a new generation of light laser system. The market pushes to obtain higher density of power and there are two ways to achieve that. The module operating at 808nm and higher peak power was selected. The selected laser diode allows operation within the device ratings with a positive impact on device longevity. Moreover, the use of a custom-made Peltier-Cell within the laser diode allows it to be maintained at a more consistent temperature which improves wavelength and power stability. This item has been tested in laboratory and in the real conditions and its behaviour is as expected. Prophotonix is already selling in its catalogue this new reference.

WP-4 has been planned to develop a user-friendly software suite for monitoring, calibrating and analysing a wheel profile measuring systems. Danobat identified as a problem the use of complex software for calibration as well as data exploitation for wheel wear predictability. Self-diagnosis tools for monitoring the status of the main components of the wheel profile system are part of the software modules developed under WheelWatcher project.

During the second period of this project, WP5 was completed with the successful installation of the demonstrator. One of the aims of the new measuring system is not to block the track when is installed and it was achieved. Another challenge of this project was the speed of the train and it is not a problem to detect the trains. After the installation, auto-diagnosis tool works properly and it is possible to detect problems, for example with the temperature. As far, all components are working well.

In WP6 the market trends, business opportunities and competitor’s technologies has been analysed to define a proper strategy to introduce both the product (train’s wheel monitoring and control device) and the components (ad-hoc thermoelectric cell and new light-system) to the market
The multinational stakeholders have been identified and contacted. Some agreements have been reached so that the global market approach is possible: Suppliers, Commercialisation Channels, Operators, Rolling Stock Manufacturers, Co-opetitors, Railway Industry. Within this WP Danobat has designed and constructed a Test Bench for demonstration of Wheelwatcher technologies with potential customers. Thanks to manufacture of this Test Bench DANOBAT has shown its current results to wide range of potential customers. The Communication activities within WheelWatcher were intended to depict the intentions, key messages, targeted audiences, roles and responsibilities, the channels of communication and success indicators to achieve the main goals indicated within the DoA and beyond them.
Thanks to WheelWatcher project, there are important progresses beyond the state of the art. The expected innovations are listed below:

Accuracy in high speed trains
The increased power density of the new laser will allow having more accuracy by freezing the image of the profile. The strobe technique will be used, involving a shorter period of light than exposure time of the camera.
The overall structure should stop the movements (static and dynamic) generated by the train.

Precision outdoor
High atmosphere control inside the optical package will allow for increasing the accuracy because the changes in relative distance and behaviours of optical elements will be improved.

Easy Calibration
Regarding the calibration process, the complex target pattern will be substituted by a wheelset. The simply movement to pass a measured wheelset is the complete process of calibration as it is described in the manual of preventive maintenance.

This technology will provide with information of status and self-diagnosis capability. WheelWatcher will detect symptoms and it will warn about them, notifying the maintainer to act when necessary.
Team Photo
First Prototype showed at Innotrans 2016 in Berlin. More than 7.000 visitors at DANOBAT’s booth.
Wheelwatcher poster
A Baneer for a TV-Screen
Summary of second year
Summary of first year