New technology for the operation and maintenance of the rail infrastructure

Sensors on the Storebælt Bridge railway are an example of Sund & Bælt’s greater focus on technology to achieve higher levels of efficiency. Sund & Bælt is now using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which means that technical systems can even “call” when maintenance is required and before operational irregularities occur.

Sund & Bælt has installed sensors in the rail tracks to collect data from the railway to send out an alert if the railway requires maintenance. This saves on hours of manual maintenance work because regular staff inspections of the railway to measure the rail track’s geometry are not required. The installation has contributed to cost-savings and greater efficiency.

“The installation of sensors and the collection of data mean that Artificial Intelligence can inter-connect data to identify the causality that cannot be seen with the naked eye,” explains Nils Blom Salmonsen, Technical Manager for Railway Engineering Systems at Sund & Bælt.

The sensors can also measure whether there is any displacement or twisting in the rail track that requires maintenance, thus delivering time savings. Moreover, Sund & Bælt saves on trackside monitoring, which the system can handle.

Efficiency improvements to points heating

Sund & Bælt currently uses automatic control – also known as intelligent monitoring – for its points heating system.

Implementation of the system has taken place in two phases; the first by using thermography equipment which controls the points’ functionality. The thermography equipment shows whether the heating is functioning as intended thereby avoiding time spent to disconnect the transformer box to check. The points heating systems is now measured by thermography equipment.

In the second phase, the points heating system is controlled via intelligent monitoring, the so-called System 2000. Sund & Bælt can access the system via a web browser, offering significant time savings. The system can also warn of any technical errors as soon as they occur, which means that corrective action can be implemented before the fault disrupts the flow of rail traffic.

The establishment of System 2000 not only provides more intelligent control of the points heating system but also offers energy saving benefits as the heat is switched on when required and in the event of warnings about adverse weather conditions. Experience shows that up to 50 per cent of the energy consumption of the points heating system can be saved.

System 2000 was established in the autumn of 2017 at the Storebælt fixed link and in 2018 at Øresund Landanlæg. This means that the points heating system is switched on and off automatically from a central server and based on local weather information.

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