Wireless modules monitor railway bearings in real time

July 16, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
LPRS is supplying their easyRadio Advanced (eRA) wireless modules to Perpetuum Ltd for a sensor system which enables users to predict failure of rotating components including wheel bearings and gearboxes on railway trains.

The train monitoring system, from Perpetuum, provides operators with real-time data which improves reliability and safety, dramatically reduces operational and maintenance costs, reduces service disruption and improves asset utilisation as operating conditions are monitored while trains are still in service and earning revenue.

LPRS eRA 400TRS wireless modules have been designed-in to the Perpetuum rail sensor systems to reduce cost, installation time and overcome the unreliability of hardwired systems having to operate in the harsh environment to be found underneath a train. Perpetuum uses their key technology of vibration energy harvesting to power the sensor system utilising the excellent source of vibration that a train provides. This removes the problems of predicting battery life and the need for costly and logistically challenging replacement of batteries.

As rotating components degrade they show symptoms that indicate the progression of the wear. The initial symptoms are vibration, followed by noise, temperature increase, smoke and then failure. The eRA connected Perpetuum Sensor System provides vibration data for long term failure prediction and temperature data for short term monitoring.

Data from the Perpetuum sensor system is displayed on a web-based platform to enable convenient access. Software translates the temperature and complex vibration data into a simple indication of the health of each component being monitored. Data can be displayed to provide a snapshot of the current state of health of the fleet, allows trending data to be displayed to show the rate of degradation and email alerts can be provided to warn an operator of any out of tolerance conditions, providing an early identification of a potential failure.

The “fast to fit” vibration and temperature sensors are simple to deploy and of robust design for operation in harsh environments. Operating temperature range is -40°C to 85°C and are designed for use in high vibration environments