Wednesday 16 July 2014

Real-time railway bearing monitoring by wireless!

LPRS, recently nominated as one of Europe’s top five wireless system design houses and manufacturer of short-range radio devices, is supplying their market leading easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules to Perpetuum Ltd for a sensor system which enables users to predict failure of rotating components including wheel bearings and gearboxes on railway trains.

Perpetuum is a global leader in vibration energy harvesting and sensor systems and the new train monitoring system provides operators with real-time data which improves reliability and safety, dramatically reduces operational and maintenance costs, reduces service disruption and improves asset utilisation as operating conditions are monitored while trains are still in service and earning revenue.
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.

Data from the Perpetuum 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.

David Vincent, Engineering Director, of Perpetuum comments, “The LPRS eRA wireless modules provided us with a simple to integrate, reliable wireless link for our sensor systems which have to perform under very difficult conditions. Our railway train monitoring system is already being trialled by a major UK operator who is very impressed by the information it provides and the ease of use. They predict a very rapid return on their investment and a solution to unlocking a number of important issues, including redefining the way they undertake some significant and costly elements of fleet maintenance.”

In addition to designing and manufacturing the highly successful easyRadio Advanced (eRA) and recently introduced eRIC system-on-chip wireless transceivers, wireless modules in the UK, the full LPRS product range now includes, Raspberry Pi and Arduino Shield wireless platforms, narrow band long range wireless modules from CDP, the IQRF range of wireless networking components, the IQVC range of visual control panels together with antenna, wireless key fobs and a wide range of sensor products.

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