"Weighing in Motion" by Althen

Dynamic Weighing for Increased Process Reliability in Railway Freight

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22 October 2020
After successful tests by the French SNCF, Althen GmbH Mess- und Sensortechnik is bringing its dynamic weighing system AWIM (Althen Weighing in Motion) to the German railway sector. The weighing system allows monitoring infrastructure load and enables predictive maintenance.

The rail network of Deutsche Bahn is being operated at high capacities, and its condition has suffered as a result. This necessitates repairs as well as a reduction in traffic. With AWIM, Althen offers a measurement system that not only ensures freight trains and carriages stay operable for as long as possible, but also helps reduce the demands placed on rails and switches.

OIML Certified Sensors

The AWIM system weighs locomotives and carriages, especially of freight trains, as they pass the rail-mounted weighing station at speeds up to 140 km/h. Eight weighing cells (based on force sensors), which are certified in accordance with the standards of the OIML (International Organization of Legal Metrology), enable precise measurements of weight (accuracy ranging between 0.5 and 1 percent depending on the speed) and weight distribution per locomotive, car, axle, wheel, and side. It can also detect wheel flats, as well as derailment of individual axles, both of which can cause severe damage to the rails.

These measurements are made possible by advanced calculations performed by the weighing system, evaluating data collected in a cloud. The dynamic weight measurement offers a broad range of insights thanks to its intelligent analytics and evaluations. Excessive weights and unbalanced weight distribution cause a lot of rail wear, while also posing a safety risk to the train as well as infrastructure elements such as railway bridges.

Identifying wheel flats and worn components early on helps avoid sudden stoppages and perform the necessary maintenance operations in time. From the perspective of cost efficiency, it makes maintenance more predictable, as well as enabling operators to only perform those maintenance operations that are actually necessary according to specified measurement parameters.

Minimal Downtime Thanks to Quick Installation

The AWIM system automatically compensates for temperature fluctuations and rail tension and can operate at temperatures between -30 and +80 degrees Celsius. The entire weighing system is completely impervious to all sorts of weather conditions. Another strong point is the short installation period of a few hours without any major modifications, keeping downtime to a minimum, especially on heavily used sections. In addition to the railway network of Deutsche Bahn, the dynamic weighing system also offers great potential for predictive maintenance on privately operated railway networks such as in the iron and steel industry, at ports, or in mining.

Intelligent solutions like AWIM help railway operators ensure reliability and availability of both rolling stock and infrastructure.

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