News & Reviews News Wire Sensitive freight trucks and face-detection software debut at Railway Interchange NEWSWIRE

Sensitive freight trucks and face-detection software debut at Railway Interchange NEWSWIRE

By Brian Schmidt | September 19, 2017

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A news Amsted truck unveiled at Railway Interchange in Indianapolis this week.
TRAINS: Brian Schmidt
INDIANAPOLIS — North American rail suppliers are expanding the way technology is infusing the rail industry and showing off their innovations with style at Railway Interchange in Indianapolis this week.

Amsted was among the larger companies to unveil a new product — a freight car TrakMaster truck. Amsted officials say their product promises a new level of connectivity for freight cars.

A sensor mounted over the bearing handles both vibration and temperature monitoring of the bearing and vibration monitoring of the wheel. Accelerometers in the sensors can track instability issues that arise from other issues, such as worn wheels.

A new IBEX truck-mounted brake promises to reduce car weight and improve brake component life, compared with traditional car-mounted brake systems. Amsted officials claim the system will save 200 pounds per car.

Amsted built the truck with varying materials to improve energy absorption and better handle track abnormalities and has a variable damping suspension to provide a more consistent ride when loaded or empty. Bolted wear plates promise easier repairs than welded components, too.

It also features a Pedestal adapter with an optimized stiffness steering pad to enable wheel sets to take a radial path through a curve, much like a self-steering truck on a locomotive. This promises to reduce wear on both wheels and rail.

More information is available online.

A new, relatively light-weight end-of-train device from Progress Rail.
TRAINS: David Lassen
Face recognition software for locomotives from a Progress Rail-Seeing Machines partnership. The technology is supposed to recognize when a train crew member has fallen asleep or is less attentive to the job of operating a locomotive.
TRAINS: Brian Schmidt
Progress Rail, maker of EMD locomotives meanwhile, had two large product launches so far this week. The first is a commercial offering from Progress in partnership with Seeing Machines on a fatigue monitoring system in locomotives.

The system, which monitors the face of an operator to detect fatigue or distraction, was first displayed at InnoTrans 2014 in Berlin.

The original agreement between Progress Rail and Australian-based Seeing Machines addressed testing and development of the technology. The new agreement will allow addition of the system to existing locomotives, and will see it available on new Progress Rail EMD locomotives, either as standard equipment or an option.

For more on the system, see “Not Just Big Shiny Objects” in the April 2017 issue of Trains.

Progress Rail also introduced its new Guardian end-of-train devices Tuesday at Railway Interchange, and also announced its first sale of the devices, to Norfolk Southern.

The new devices weigh as little as 17 pounds, and are designed to be more easily handled and attached by train crews. The EOT units also have a backup battery that can remain charged for months and is expected to function for the five-to-seven-year life of the device.

Traditional end-of-train devices weigh up to 40 pounds and require three pieces to connect properly — the battery pack, the electronics, and a mount.

“They were mishandled quite often because the ergonomics were not good for the people who were working on it,” Progress Rail’s Mark Kramer tells Trains. “We wanted to make something that was extremely balanced and encompassed the technology features that had not been done before.”

The device, which has been tested since 2015, including field tests on a Class I railroad, also features tracking through either satellite or cellular GPS communications.

Progress’ move into end-of-train technology reflects its purchase earlier this year of the intellectual property of Wise Electronics, based in Silver Springs, Md.

Norfolk Southern will take delivery of new Guardian devices by the end of the year.

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