metro Bilbao monitoring system

Increasing efficiency of Metro Bilbao’s fleet with monitoring systems

voestalpine's monitoring system at Metro Bilbao voestalpine Signaling

How does Metro Bilbao benefit from a fully integrated monitoring approach including sensors, software & analytics? Helmut Liebminger, CEO of voestalpine Signaling and Walter Serno, customer manager for Spain, talk about the modular product concept behind the monitoring solution for Metro Bilbao in detail.

The metro system of Bilbao in Northern Spain is a single circular line, with slab track concrete. In 2019, more than 6 million journeys were started from San Mamés Station in Bilbao. Four Hot Box Detection (HBD) scanners were installed, as well as three wheel scanners, and have been working for the last two years. The small size of the HBD scanners allowed a slab track installation on special mounting frames. Due to the specific layout of the track infrastructure of the metro system, special cable lines and a junction box were installed to communicate to the Central Management System (CMS), which collects all data and provides the interface for alarming functions.

The Hot Box Detection is based on voestalpine’s standard infrared technology, which has been adapted to not only detect hot boxes on axles, but also other components of the train where heating up has an impact on the performance of trains. “It is our standard modular sensor technology, which is applied to measure the heat development of motors & gearboxes by slightly adapting the software algorithms”, says Helmut Liebminger, CEO of voestalpine Signaling Siershahn, a subsidiary of voestalpine Railway Systems, the global market leader for railway infrastructure system solutions.

Fleet condition monitoring

Through the collection of historic data from the installed sensors that are further processed in the software application Fleet Condition Monitoring the status of components is tracked and with the application of smart algorithms a predictive maintenance approach can be enabled.

Walter Serno, customer manager at voestalpine Signaling for Spain: “With fleet condition monitoring, you can see the status of a component and how it is behaving. Just to give an easy example, how each bearing on each axle has performed over the last three months. If a trend of degradation is detected, the fleet manager can get an automatic notification before an alarm limit is hit, and do a check in the depot before any large consequences occur.“

The system also gives an overview of each vehicle’s components in a database, such as how many axles it has and where the RFID tags are located, by which the condition can be linked to the specific component of the train.

Because of the modularity other features can be added on top of it, explains Walter Serno. “As with all of our sensor technology, there is a checkpoint core. If a customer wants to extend the capabilities, we can add other technologies to detect more types of failures, by adding e.g. Wheel Impact Load Detection (WILD) or acoustic sensors.

Increasing need to use existing data

“The first step is always to find out current pain points in the operations of the Fleet of the customer through a workshop and see if data from different sources can support to solve the customer problem. Sometimes it happens that we don’t only solve the problem but can go beyond that. It is a customer journey, as more ideas and possible applications come up along the way”, says Liebminger. “We believe in the combination of data from different sensor technologies through applying AI methods to improve the level of accuracy and get more value out of data that is there.

“The fleet condition monitoring really is a supporting tool for train operating companies. We expect an increasing need in the market to better exploit existing data sources to improve the efficiency and the uptime of fleets”, Liebminger concludes.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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