Vossloh acquires RailWatch’s monitoring technology

The RailWatch sensor set-up next to the track, wich will record data of wagons that drive by

Shortly after teaming up with German rail infrastructure manager DB Netz in the realm of proactive rail maintenance, German rail technology company Vossloh expanded its monitoring technology portfolio by taking over the extensive monitoring technology from Bonn-based company RailWatch.

All RailWatch employees will be integrated into the Vossloh Group, including the entire development team, which will expand its competencies in the areas of sensor technology, computer vision, and cloud computing.“The topic of condition-based and predictive maintenance is of crucial importance when it comes to creating the prerequisites for an increased shift of traffic to rail and thus for more sustainable mobility”, says Oliver Schuster, CEO of Vossloh.

“At Vossloh, we are intensively involved in the sensory recording of the condition of the track. Based on the knowledge gained, we already offer our customers tailored maintenance solutions and are continuously developing our products further. The recording of specific rail vehicle condition data is the logical next step in further expanding our systemic understanding of the track. The condition of the track over time is very significantly influenced also by the so-called wheel-rail contact. The RailWatch technology will provide us with crucial insights in this regard”, says Oliver Schuster, CEO of Vossloh.

Camera-based train and wagon identification technology

RailWatch has developed camera-based technology for train and wagon identification, employing optical and acoustic sensors to assess the technical condition of freight and passenger cars, multiple units, and locomotives as they pass through. These measuring stations are equipped with high-resolution cameras and specially designed LED technology to ensure optimal, glare-free illumination. The data collected includes details on issues like wheel damage, brake blocks, and train and car identification numbers.

Additionally, there is an auxiliary measuring system embedded in the track, allowing for the gathering of supplementary data, such as various parameters related to the wheel profile, weight information, and the distribution of axle loads. The comprehensive data collected from the entire system is processed using artificial intelligence in the cloud. Following thorough quality checks, the processed data is made accessible to customers through a web portal. RailWatch’s monitoring system boasts a 98 per cent detection accuracy, establishing it as a leading AI image-processing technology in the railway industry.

These measuring stations are strategically located along Germany’s critical rail freight routes, as well as at entrances to industrial facilities and ports. The primary beneficiaries of this information are not only network operators but also industrial companies, ports, rail transport companies, and freight car owners. This technology enables the early detection of wear and damage, facilitating precise planning and implementation of maintenance measures.

Rail infrastructure is no longer a collection of railway lines. Keeping up with the drive for innovation, it has become a complex infrastructure of autonomous, intelligent and digitised routes, interchanges, yards and hubs. What was new yesterday is old today. Attend the Intelligent Rail Summit in Warsaw, Poland, on 6-7 November 2023 to learn more.

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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