Digital Plus on the Tracks: ZF and DB Systemtechnik Agree on Cooperation

Since existing vehicles can also be retrofitted with the required ZF components, every single train used for normal line service could also take over a monitoring function.

Sharing Expertise for a Smart Project

ZF just recently implemented a condition monitoring system for the public transport company in Graz that identifies flat spots on the vehicle wheels. For ZF’s cooperation with DB Systemtechnik, the system has now been further developed to allow the analysis the condition of the rail track.

The first contribution by ZF falls into the hardware category: Battery-powered Bluetooth sensors, the so-called Heavy Duty TAGs, are mounted on the vehicle wheels, where they continuously record a variety of data such as acceleration, vibration and more. This data is recorded and processed in the VCU Pro Onboard Unit ‒ a telematics gateway ‒ and forwarded to the ZF cloud via WiFi or 4G. The information can then be visualized and read out via a dashboard.

The highlight of the new partnership is the link to the DB Systemtechnik Continuous Track Monitoring or CTM analysis tool. This tool evaluates the data obtained to detect noticeable problems on the tracks and to precisely locate them using GPS. Maintenance work can be carried out early on and in an anticipatory manner, thus preventing delays, breakdowns, and overloading of the rail network, as well as simplifying and automating operating processes.

Digital and Modular, Reliable and Flexible

ZF’s design for “[email protected]” is modular. If requested by the customer, more sensors, evaluations and monitoring functions can be added. This means that the system can be widely installed in a significant range of rail vehicles, in short and long-distance traffic. It is developed for independent and maintenance-free operation and uses its digital potential effectively: Thanks to the connection to the ZF cloud, data can be recorded, transmitted and evaluated on a permanent basis. With corresponding user rights, the respective reports can be accessed from anywhere. Thus, ZF places maximum emphasis on individual customer value while providing the operator with a basis for digital maintenance and workshop management.

The DB Systemtechnik test vehicle ‒ a 612 model range railcar ‒ will carry out test drives on an open line in the fall of 2021. It is equipped with two ZF gateways and a total of 14 Heavy Duty TAGs. Initial results are expected by October of this year.

ZF showcases the Condition Monitoring System and other technologies for rail vehicles at the Railway Forum trade fair at the Estrel Congress Center in Berlin on September 7 and 8, 2021. ZF is present at booth B04.

This article was originally published by ZF Group.