How can technology be used to increase safety, reduce costs, and boost efficiency? TXM Consult's head of engineering, Martyn Bendall, answers the question in the latest issue of Rail Business Daily's Rail Director...
“Operators can spend unnecessary resources and lose valuable train availability due to the unknown operational state of their rolling stock whilst on diagram. In particular, the status of fluid and solid levels.” That’s according to Martyn Bendall, TXM Consult’s head of engineering and part of their Engineering, Asset Management & Maintenance (EAMMS) team.
With more than 30 years of experience in the rail industry, Martyn has seen many aspects of asset optimisation change over the course of his career. But not all areas are operating at the level you would expect to see in the modern, digital age.
Martyn said: “It’s common to see recently manufactured rolling stock using either algorithms or a binary approach with hard-wired sensors to estimate fluid and solid levels. The former can prove to be inaccurate and the latter lacks granularity. This ultimately translates to trains being stood down for longer periods than necessary.
“Sand levels on trains are a good example of this inefficiency. Sanding is a key safety function on trains to improve adhesion levels between the wheel and rail interface during braking and to aid traction. The availability of sand, its condition and system function are all areas in which operators lack visibility. This raises safety concerns and leads to premature visits to the maintenance shed or the need to check and replenish on diagram – an inefficient and costly approach. It’s like driving your car without a fuel gauge – it may be possible but there is a better way.”