Smart turnouts prevent faults on German railway network
German rail infrastructure manager DB Netze has installed 28,000 smart turnouts on its network. They are vital for implementing predictive maintenance solutions and increasing safety on tracks. With the help of the smart turnouts, the German company has already prevented 3,600 defects in 2019.
Deutsche Bahn started to convert the conventional turnouts into the smart ones in 2015. The last of 28,000 smart turnouts were installed in Halle (Saale), Saxony-Anhalt, last week. DB invested around 66 million euros in this programme. In order to provide more safety on tracks, the German company also plans to provide digital monitoring of 18,000 turnout heaters by the end of 2020. Starting from 2021, DB will start to install special sensors for keeping an eye on the material and position of the switches.
DIANA diagnostics platform
All the digital data on the turnouts are based on the DIANA diagnostics and analytics platform, which was developed by infraView, the German engineering company, in 2013. The key component of the solution is a sensor that is put on the power cable of the turnout drive motor. If a switch is set for a train journey, the sensor inductively measures the required current. If the determined value deviates from the normal energy consumption of the motor, the maintenance staff will be active. Based on the data, they can diagnose at an early stage the extent of the malfunction and what preventive works are necessary to avoid a defect.
In November 2018 DB Engineering & Consulting, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, acquired infraView. At that moment, there were more than 20,000 smart turnouts connected to the DIANA platform. Currently, DB Netze is also examining the possibility to use the solution for monitoring other infrastructure facilities, besides turnouts and heaters. The level crossings and signal boxes are being considered as the most likely areas for future pilot projects.
Are you interested to know more about the innovations on the German railway network? This topic will be discussed at the RailTech Infra Forum digital conference on 17 and 18 June. To know more, visit the event website and register to participate.