Aldolex Irl ltd: Software For Business - RailTemperature

By: Aldolex Irl  05/12/2011
Keywords: alarms, Rail

 


Rail Temperature Monitoring: Irish Rail


Rail travel is a method of public transport used all over the world from Athlone to Addis Ababa. It provides efficient, environmentally-friendly transportation of large amounts of passengers safely every day. There are a whole range of safety measures implemented such as Traffic Management Systems, Signalling Systems, Train Detection etc. Each metre of rail is also both manually and automatically inspected on a regular basis for defects. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the rail condition is maintained to the highest standards so that passenger safety is not compromised. Environmental factors play a huge role in the quality of rails. Temperature is one of the largest contributors to variance in laid rail: its influence is even greater with the advent of continuous welded rail (CWR) sections because there are fewer expansion joints available to counteract fluctuations in ambient temperature. When CWR is being laid, it is heated to the Rail Neutral Temperature (RNT), a temperature normally midway between the coldest and hottest expected temperatures. So, in weather colder than the RNT the rail section is in tension; in weather warmer than the RNT, the rails are in compression. Each conditions poses a potentially catastrophic scenario:

    Each of these scenarios could have disastrous consequences for trains travelling on the defective section. Because of these safety concerns, Irish Rail issued a tender in 2007 for the provision of a system to automatically measure the temperature of rails throughout the rail network in Republic of Ireland. The remit of the tender was to design/ install a system to monitor the track temperature throughout the national rail network in the Republic of Ireland.

    • Most of the measurement points are remote and have neither local power nor data available.
    • The system must record the measurements and make the information available on a website
    • The system must automatically alert the responsible personnel via SMS Text Message should alarms occur.

    Aldolex Irl Ltd tendered a winning bid for the project. After some field trials and discussions with Irish Rail, a final specification was written and the system fully designed. Following a successful project phase, the system was installed and commissioned in 2009.

    How It Works

    The intention of RailTemperature is to monitor the temperature of sections of track prone to the largest temperature fluctuations and alert the relevant personnel to the imminent dangers. The system is not intended to have the ultimate responsibility for monitoring but is intended to lead to the efficient utilisation of inspection personnel. The inspection personnel will make the ultimate decision on imposing local temporary speed restrictions as necessary but RailTemperature will ensure that the manual inspections are kept to a minimum.

    The system consists of:

    • Remote unit mounted on the underside of the rail
    • Web application collecting and analysing the temperature data
    • Users with standard mobile phones

    The remote unit consists of a temperature sensor, some control electronics and a long life battery: it doesn't require an external power source. The unit is affixed to the underside of the rail using a standard Vortok uPVC Clip-On Insulator. The unit communicates in a Level 0 Alert state for normal operation. If the unit reaches a Level 1 Alarm condition, it begins to send temperature data more frequently. The website application collects the temperature data and analyses it based on configurable parameters for Alarms. If these alarms are triggered, the application will send an SMS Text Message to the personnel identified for the stretch of rail in question. There is no limit to the number of personnel identified. There are two Alarm Levels, Warning and Danger. The personnel lists for both types of Alarm are different so it is possible to alert more/ a different group of personnel for both types of Alarms. The website application collects the temperature data and analyses it based on configurable parameters for Alarms. If these alarms are triggered, the application will send an SMS Text Message to the personnel identified for the stretch of rail in question. There is no limit to the number of personnel identified. There are two Alarm Levels, Warning and Danger. The personnel lists for both types of Alarm are different so it is possible to alert more/ a different group of personnel for both types of Alarms.

    The website application also allows management of the system including:

    • Monitoring the Temperature of each unit
    • Viewing Current Alarms
    • Assigning personnel to each Alarm for each unit
    • Graphing Temperature trends/ exporting data to Excel etc.
    • Sending manual information messages via SMS Text Message to selected/ all personnel Personnel who are responsible for track temperature are required to carry a standard GSM mobile phone. The phone only requires the ability to receive SMS Text Messages which all off-the-shelf phones are capable of doing.

Keywords: alarms, Rail

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