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Last Update: 11 May 2006
Applications

Railway Freight Wagons Tracking & Reporting


   

Objectives

The aim was to develop, up to a level ready for commercial exploitation, a GPS-GSM Location Rx Board (G2LRB) for the existing Wheel Slide Protection (WSP) Electronics of C-Sigma.

On railways freight cars the only electronic unit installed, when present, is typically the WSP electronics, which controls the pneumatic brake as to prevent any wheel lock condition, very damaging for the wheels.

The WSP electronics already includes digital processing capabilities, as well as electrical power conditioning and/or generation and storage (and for the most modern applications also the interface to the vehicle data bus, when available); hence it appears as the natural place where to install the additional electronic boards required for the above tasks. The advantages gained by integrating a GPS-GSM board into a WSP Electronics go even further: the presence of a GSM modem allows also the monitoring of useful diagnostic information concerning the overall brake equipment.

click for larger image

Furthermore, the fact that the WSP already processes the signals from the axle mounted speed sensors, opens up new possibilities, as for example the monitoring of the wheel's wearing rate (by comparing the speed signal from the sensors to the GPS speed data), very useful for scheduling preventive maintenance.

Features

The overall system is based on a relatively straightforward system architecture. In the standard configuration GPS data are formatted as SMS by the on-board processor, and sent to a SMS Server.

click for larger image

The SMS Server runs a database, to which Client applications can connect, via LAN or modem, to display location data (see example at the bottom). The Client application, for its core cartographic capabilities, relies on Microsoft MapPoint, which shall already be installed on a Client PC.

The plug-in version is ideal for the C-Sigma Wheel Slide Protection Electronics Ubi_Conf_01, whose backplane features a connector specifically for G2LRB, allowing advanced diagnostics capabilities of brake equipment and wheel-set (e.g.: wearing of wheel diameter). Stand alone versions, packaged to suit specific custom requirements, can also be supplied. The on-board processor, combined with the RS232 and/or the optional CAN interface, allows the custom development of sophisticated remote diagnostics applications (the example is from an electro-hydraulic brake equipment). For sensitive freights, two orthogonal 2-axis accelerometers allow monitoring of accelerations and shocks along the 3-axis (also useful for derailment detection and 'rail-road quality' assessment).

At right, SMS data from EM1 installed on a Bombardier tram in Leipzig (Germany)

click for larger image

Project Plan

The plan was to specify, design, manufacture, test and field validate a plug-in GPS-GSM Board for an existing WSP Brake Controller of C-Sigma s.r.l., for railway type of applications. To achieve this, the activities were split in several work packages:

  • Feasibility Analysis and Requirements Specification
  • Detailed Design
  • Breadboard Manufacturing and Testing
  • Engineering Model Manufacturing and Testing
  • Customer Search Interface and Client Software Development

Challenges

The key issues identified at the start of the development were:

  • develop the GPS-GSM Board to a level ready for the market
  • resulting in the need to manufacture an Engineering Model (EM)
  • to then be thoroughly tested to verify compliance with applicable standards (EN 50155 Electronic Equipment Used On Rolling Stock, ENV 50121-3-2 Railway Applications - EMC)
  • develop a Customer Search Interface and Client Application Software, to allow demonstration of proper operation of the complete system
  • field demonstrate, in an actual application, correct operation for a minimum of 3 months

Benefits

For GPS-GSM based Fleet Management applications, several other commercial hardware solutions already exists. They are usually contained in stand-alone boxes, and need their own battery. The key advantages to integrate GPS-GSM capabilities into the electronic unit already needed for Brake Control with Wheel Slide Protection are:

  • WSP Electronics and GPS-GSM hardware, both contribute to a reduction in the overall transit time of goods.
  • Integrating GPS into a WSP Electronics offers the advantage of speed signals already monitored. Very useful feature when GPS signals are not available
  • Comparison of GPS referenced speed with speed sensor signals allows to monitor wheel diameter wear-out rate
  • Supply voltage already generated (axle mounted alternator), conditioned and stored (accumulator), by the WSP Electronics
  • Advanced remote diagnostics of the Brake Equipment is easily implemented thanks to availability of GSM modem
  • Customers can reduce to a minimum the suppliers for systems and sub-systems

Current Status (dated: 16 Mar 2004)

The project's activities started in September 2002, and ended in December 2003. Two Engineering Models were built, instead of the one foreseen at the start of the project. EM1 was installed on a Bombardier tram, in the town of Leipzig (Germany), for the Demonstration Campaign.

EM2 was manufactured to allow type testing activities (EMC-EMI, vibrations, environmental), in parallel to the Demonstration Campaign.

EMC and Vibrations tests needed to be carried out in a configuration as representative as possible of the actual end application. For this reason the tests were carried out with EM2 inserted in its actual destination: the C-Sigma WSP Electronics. All tests on EM2 were successfully completed.

Since its installation on an actual vehicle, on August 12th 2003, EM1 has been operating successfully, allowing to verify all the following functionalities:

  • G2LRB correct reception of GPS signals
  • Correct formatting of SMSs, when GPS Fix is valid
  • Correct reception and storage on the SMSs server
  • Correct data exchange with the Client application


Last Update: 11 May 2006
 
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