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Sensor Based-Safety Technologies to be Showcased at InnoTrans 2012

During the InnoTrans trade show, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will demonstrate two new safety technologies such as a scanner capable of tracking the trains that pass at full speed, and sensors that perform preventative maintenance through early detection of damage to railroad vehicles. These two technologies will be showcased from September 18 to 21 in Berlin.

The Sector Profile Scanner measures passing trains at full speed. © Fraunhofer IPM

The German Federal Statistics Office states that more goods are being transported by rail, showing an increase of 20% to 375 MT from 2009 to 2011. As freight and railcars face growing demands, shorter delivery times remain as challenge to railway logisticians and train engineers. The risk of error, breakdowns or damage is prone to occur. Therefore, these security risks need to be cost-effectively tackled with modern rail technology.

A laser scanner that can measure passing trains at full speed has been created by Freiburg-based Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM. This allows operation centers to easily, precisely and rapidly detect potential ecological risks like shifted containers, protruding goods, open loading doors, or railcars separated from or trapped within each other.

According to Dr. Alexander Reiterer of IPM, a 3-D map enables the safety officers to instantly respond in real time subsequent to the passing of trains. Mounted adjacent to the rails, the four laser scanners can measure around 2 million data points per second. The Sector Profile Scanner (SPS) is safe and virtually maintenance-free.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt has determined to adopt the energy self-sufficient sensor technology even for railroad engineering. The sensor system, when equipped to the undercarriage acquires its power using piezoelectric converter from the railcar’s oscillations. The sensors steadily deliver data to the train engineer on the state of the security-critical components. Further evaluation can be done using comparison values from the computer.

At the show, Fraunhofer will showcase additional rail technology-based R&D achievements such as innovative designs for transportation logistics, thermography testing of railcar wheels and test procedures for safety-critical railroad software.


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