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Posted on July 22, 2014 by  & 

Wireless train sensor harvests vibrational energy

Perpetuum, together with Southeastern Railways (London), won the 2014 Railway Industry Innovation Award for Engineering and Safety. The Railway Industry Innovation Award is considered one of the top national awards in the rail industry.
Baroness Kramer, Minister of State for Transport, presided over the event where both companies were recognised for their collaboration to develop a new system that aided Southeastern Railway's Condition Based Maintenance (CBM). Perpetuum's technology is an industry first that uses a system powered by harvesting vibration energy to measure wheel-bearing degradation. Steve Turley, Perpetuum President said "This technology can aid in extending rail asset life, increase operational function, and improve safety due to better anticipating failures."
The Perpetuum system provides a Bearing Health Index (BHI) that allows the technical team at Southeastern to monitor bearing wear with live data. Up to 1.8 million sets of temperature and vibration data are collected each day, and refined into the BHI readings for easier analysis. Automatic email alerts are sent to the technical team when vibration levels move beyond set parameters.

"With a growing skills shortage and increasing traffic demands through unprecedented investment, there is a heightened need to raise productivity in the depots over the coming five years," shared Justin Southcombe, Perpetuum Commercial Director. "Condition Based Maintenance will be part of the solution through enhanced prioritisation of work, the mechanisation of asset inspection, and the automaton of analysis."
Perpetuum and Southeastern have identified additional potential benefits and are working together to develop the technology further, including a Wheel Health Index system that will monitor wheel health and wear, as well as gearbox, traction motor and track monitoring.
LPRS is supplying their easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules to Perpetuum Ltd for the sensor system which enables users to predict failure of rotating components including wheel bearings and gearboxes on railway trains.
LPRS eRA 400TRS wireless modules have been designed-in to the Perpetuum rail sensor systems to reduce cost, installation time and overcome the unreliability of hardwired systems having to operate in the harsh environment to be found underneath a train. Perpetuum uses their key technology of vibration energy harvesting to power the sensor system utilising the excellent source of vibration that a train provides. This removes the problems of predicting battery life and the need for costly and logistically challenging replacement of batteries.
As rotating components degrade they show symptoms that indicate the progression of the wear. The initial symptoms are vibration, followed by noise, temperature increase, smoke and then failure. The eRA connected Perpetuum Sensor System provides vibration data for long term failure prediction and temperature data for short term monitoring.
petuum sensor system is displayed on a web-based platform to enable convenient access. Software translates the temperature and complex vibration data into a simple indication of the health of each component being monitored. Data can be displayed to provide a snapshot of the current state of health of the fleet, allows trending data to be displayed to show the rate of degradation and email alerts can be provided to warn an operator of any out of tolerance conditions, providing an early identification of a potential failure.
The "fast to fit" vibration and temperature sensors are simple to deploy and of robust design for operation in harsh environments. Operating temperature range is -40°C to 85°C and are designed for use in high vibration environments
Sources: Perpetuum and LPRS
Top image: LPRS
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