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How Vossloh uses data-based condition monitoring to improve railroad availability

Vossloh is a leading global rail technology company, focusing on improving the rail infrastructure with world-integrated solutions from a single source. They are a key player in the rail industry making an important contribution to the mobility of people and the transport of commodities – safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Sensorfy supported Vossloh in achieving substantial progress on the trend-setting order for data-based condition monitoring of switches in Sweden. The multi-year order was awarded to Vossloh by Trafikverket in 2020 and included a total of 1,000 switches in the Swedish network. Therefore, Vossloh was looking for an innovation partner to design and engineer this revolutionary solution, therefore, they teamed up with Sensorfy to take on this challenge.

Problem

Railroads around the world are bursting with passenger and freight demand that show no signs of slowing down. There is great pressure on the railway workforce raising the number of safety-related incidents. In addition, unplanned downtime and lack of insights into the condition of the rail infrastructure including rail switches remains a big problem for railway operators. 

As a result of these challenges, an innovative solution was needed to monitor the condition of the rail infrastructure and rail switches in real-time. Vossloh teamed up with Sensorfy to design and engineer this revolutionary solution for Trafikverket.

“ In Sensorfy, we found a forward leaning partner, and succeeded in developing a value-creating product. This is just the beginning. ”
Johan Zelander
Project Manager
Vossloh Nordic Switch Systems AB

Solution

The aim of Vossloh’s smart solution is to avoid unplanned downtime due to switch malfunctions, increase the efficiency of maintenance work and thus significantly boost track availability. For this, Sensorfy developed a smart sensor system consisting of one or more sensor devices, which accurately detects and registers all movements and displacement of railway sleepers, as well as some other variables. All this data is collected and processed in a Gateway that forwards the information to the Cloud for further processing. 

Through real-time monitoring of the rail switches’ condition, Vossloh can detect switch malfunctions before they happen. This gives them optimal response time to schedule maintenance operations and prevent unplanned downtime. The Smart Sensor Solution also provides information on the speed and type of passing trains via an ingenious algorithm.

Vossloh smart IoT sensor system on railroad

Results

Vossloh has now successfully completed the validation of the performance of the sensors,  gateways, cloud applications and algorithms. The validation was performed using data from over 4000 train passes to test the reliability of the solution and the accuracy of the algorithms under real conditions. This marks an important technological milestone and is a crucial step to enable Trafikverket to permanently monitor their railway switches and to avoid unanticipated shutdowns.

Key achievements

  • Important milestone achieved in Trafikverket’s trend-setting multi-year contract for data-based monitoring of 1,000 switches
  • Vossloh’s highly innovative solution fully meets the contractually defined set of requirements
  • The solution helps increase the efficiency of maintenance work and thus significantly boosts track availability. 
  • Digital expertise in combination with a thorough  understanding of rail track physics as a key success factor
predictive maintenance in railway tracks - image of a train on a track

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