Nevertheless, its market share has been going down continuously compared to road transport. Progress might be made with regard to overcoming this shortfall, if it were possible to monitor freight cars in operation.
This would enable an early detection of imminent damage and at the same time provide for condition-based maintenance. Freight traffic would become economically more efficient and significantly safer.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability have now developed a new solution for continuous condition monitoring of railway freight cars, based on intelligent, energy-autonomous sensors, enabling damage to be detected at an early stage and accidents to be avoided.The system can be flexibly configured, and even retrofitted into existing equipment. Fraunhofer LBF will be showcasing the new solution at the Innotrans exhibition at its Booth No. 225 in Hall 4.1.
Given the harsh operating conditions with severe loads re-sulting from vibrations, temperature variations, dirt and humidity, railway equipment needs to be simple and robust. Freight cars therefore generally do not have any onboard sensors or power supply. Hence the Darmstadt researchers created a method for the development of intelligent, energy-autonomous sensor nodes for structural monitoring.
The purpose of such nodes is to analyze and transmit data, using a limited amount of energy. In the course of the development, the research team employed advanced simulation and real-time simulation tools along with Hardware-in-the-Loop methods to efficiently advance development from the first draft to the first prototype through systematic testing.
The development team at Fraunhofer LBF designed an energy harvesting system capable of converting energy present in the ambient environment in order to supply the sensor node, the energy source "tapped into" being the mechanical vibrations of the railway wagons. As ambient energy is not continuously available, the research team developed an energy management system adapted to the requirements of the application on hand, which enables the reliable acquisition, processing and wireless transmission of measurement data.
A special challenge presented itself in connection with the need for reliable transmission of the data to the driver, which resulted from the fact that there are numerous sources of interference along the transmission path. The researchers implemented the condition monitoring system using a hot box detector for monitoring of wheel bearings.
Availability of energy at the place of application
The key element of the energy-autonomous sensor system is the condition monitoring software. Several algorithms are available, which provide information regarding the proper functioning of a system or calculate its residual life.
Considering the limited amount of ambient energy avail-able onboard the freight car, an integrated approach had to be taken in the design of the energy-autonomous sensor system (EASS). At the outset of the methodical development process, the developers conducted an extensive measurement to determine the system dynamics and the service loads present on the freight car. Based on the measurement data obtained, they were able to determine an application site, at which sufficient energy to operate an EASS can be harvested. The Fraunhofer LBF researchers then designed a mechanical resonator optimized for this site, with applied piezoelectric transducers to convert mechanical vibrations present in the ambient environment with high efficiency into electrical energy.
Hardware and software for energy management and for data processing and transmission are complex systems, whose interaction was initially analyzed and optimized by the Darmstadt research team in the laboratory by means of Hardware-in-the-Loop simulations. This enabled the mechatronic systems to be assessed under realistic conditions, realistic ambient condition to be reproduced and prototype electronic devices to be evaluated. Hence, at the beginning of the development process, many of the EASS components were represented by real-time computer models and individual hardware components numerically optimized. Following successful adaptation, the system components were gradually replaced by prototypes, until a well-coordinated energy-autonomous sensor system was achieved. Upon successful implementation in the laboratory, the system was evaluated in a field test.
Improving products through "Usage Monitoring"
The new sensor nodes may help the railway industry to improve its competitiveness against other forms of transport. Condition-based monitoring of safety relevant components, made possible by the sensor node, will reduce cost compared to conventional interval-based maintenance. At the same time, the new solution maintains the capability to arbitrarily assemble train sets. Continuous data acquisition in the form of "Usage Monitoring" can be used for product improvement, as the designer is provided with more accurate information about usage profiles. In addition, enhanced condition monitoring improves operational safety and contributes towards avoiding serious accidents.
Anke Zeidler-Finsel | Source: Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information: www.lbf.fraunhofer.de
More articles from Trade Fair News:
Siemens launches Artis one angiography system for universal use
02.12.2013 | Siemens AG
COMPAMED is holding on to its position as international leading market place for medical devices
02.12.2013 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
EPFL scientists have shown how to achieve a dramatic increase in the capacity of optical fibers; Their simple, innovative solution reduces the amount of space required between the pulses of light that transport data
Optical fibers carry data in the form of pulses of light over distances of thousands of miles at amazing speeds. They are one of the glories of modern telecommunications technology.
However, their capacity is limited, because the pulses of light need to be lined up one after the other in ...
NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel airborne mission known as HS3 wrapped up for the 2013 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season at the end of September, and had several highlights. HS3 will return to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.
During the 2013 mission, two unmanned Global Hawks flew from Wallops for the first time. The mission highlights included studying the Saharan Air Layer, following the genesis of a tropical storm, finding a unique hybrid core or center circulation in a redeveloped storm, obtaining measurements on the strongest side of ...
Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin.
This "nanosponge vaccine" enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA—both within the bloodstream and on the skin. Nanoengineers from the University of California, San Diego described the safety and efficacy of this nanosponge vaccine in the December 1 issue of ...
04.12.2013 | Health and Medicine
04.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
04.12.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News
29.10.2013 | Event News