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iniTECH Improves Train Safety by Integrating CIMPLICITY with Axle Counters

Introduction

Products

CIMPLICITY, Proficy Webspace

Product Categories

Proficy HMI / SCADA, Proficy Historian

Delivering Diagnostic Information to Transit Authorities

Metro train transit authorities leverage a variety of ways to monitor their subway systems. One distinctive way is the use of a Central Monitoring System. The main function is to oversee the control systems and provide diagnostics of all connected field equipment – helping to keep subway systems running smoothly and reliably by detecting abnormities and reporting them in real time to the proper personnel.

 

Connecting thousands of pieces of equipment from various manufacturers, central monitoring and diagnostic systems use software such as CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA from GE Vernova’s Digital business to provide the robustness to gather information from any device installed in the field. This equipment includes interlocking switches, track circuit relays, solid state interlocking (SSI), and communications-based train control (CBTC) equipment.

 

With more metros implementing axle counters in conjunction with CBTC, iniTECH Industrial, a GE Vernova solution provider and train system integration expert, developed a communication solution to integrate axle counters such as from Frauscher into CIMPLICITY-based central monitoring and diagnostic systems. iniTECH works in partnership with GE Vernova representative AutomaTech to deliver transit automation solutions for metros such as New York City Transit.

 

With the communication solution integrating the axle counters and the central monitoring and diagnostic system, transit authorities can:

 

  • Improve their ability to proactively detect and resolve potential problems before they happen – all from their central control room
  • Increase safety
  • Deliver more reliable on-time service
  • Achieve greater operations efficiency

 

“With the constant release of new types of field sensors to deliver diagnostic information for the railroad industry, a robust HMI/SCADA such as CIMPLICITY is required,” said Alina Haranczyk, CEO and managing partner at iniTECH.  

Not only is the data aggregation from multiple sources a necessity, but the ability to then display that information in a meaningful way is just as important. We combine our industry expertise with CIMPLICITY to do just that – which is a big win for transit authorities.

Alina Haranczyk - CEO and managing partner at iniTECH

Axle Counters and Transit Automation

The advantages of axle counters over track circuits are significant, including quick and easy installation, low maintenance (both time and cost), low lifecycle costs, high uptime, low power requirements, and overall reliability in extreme weather and environmental conditions.

 

In addition, axle counters are beneficial in locations where track circuits cannot be used, such as steel structures or embedded track. The long track section lengths that are possible with axle counters make them an ideal choice for dark territory applications. Axle counters can also be used as an overlay for track vacancy detection in mass transit systems and CBTC fallback.

 

Trackside equipment can be triggered using wheel sensors to provide direction of travel and accurate position. As a leading axle counter manufacturer, Frauscher has implemented the FAdC in Class 1 yards, where track occupation and capacity can be easily determined. It is also effective for grade crossings, switch point protection, and yard automation, offering high availability and increased uptime from track circuit only systems.

 

“Axle counters are a huge safety improvement,” Haranczyk said. “They give metros the ability to roll out CBTC technology and still accommodate non-CBTC equipped trains. They also provide a backup system in case CBTC technology has a fault in an area. As such, it’s critical to achieve communication with axle counters and integrate this diagnostic data within the central monitoring system.”

Reading Axle Counter Diagnostics

To support the use of axle counters and improve safety, iniTECH was able to integrate these devices into its CIMPLICITY central monitoring and diagnostic solution.

 

Frauscher devices allow a variety of ways to connect to gather train operational and diagnostic information.

 

  • Frauscher connects to SSI or CBTC equipment to provide operational data: The SSI or CBTC equipment then forwards the diagnostic data to CIMPLICITY central monitoring through Modbus TCP/IP.

 

  • Frauscher has web-based diagnostics: Accessible through a simple button click within a CIMPLICITY screen that opens the default web browser and displays the FDS built-in web-based diagnostics.

 

  • Frauscher publishes an XML data stream with all info in their web-based diagnostics: With the help of a bridge built by iniTECH, CIMPLICITY allows this XML data stream to be read into the central monitoring system.

 

“With more information available to users, the interest in axle counters increases – along with the safety and efficiency benefits that they can provide,” Haranczyk explained.

 

Currently, the CIMPLICITY system reads overall health status of each module and field sensor along with data such as:

 

  • The number of axles it counted
  • If the area between two axle counters is occupied
  • The diameter of the wheel
  • The current speed of passing axles
  • An over speed alarm when it occurs

Ease of Working with CIMPLICITY

For iniTECH, CIMPLICITY provides robust yet flexible HMI/SCADA software to meet the needs of the transit industry.  

 

“The rail industry moves quickly, and when a new sensor is in its proof-of-concept phase, they might not always follow the typical communication protocols to relay its diagnostic information,” Haranczyk explained. “With the ability to integrate libraries and code snippets seamlessly into CIMPLICITY, a system designer doesn’t need to sweat with each new additional sensor.”

 

According to Haranczyk, with the addition of Python into the CIMPLICITY environment and all the libraries and knowledge base from developers around the world, there is virtually no device that CIMPLICITY can’t display diagnostics about. 

By easing integration and communication with CIMPLICITY, iniTECH system designers have more time and focus to bring new and exciting technologies to transit authorities and showcase the advantages of each one.

Alina Haranczyk - CEO and managing partner at iniTECH

Furthermore, the digital representation can be unique for each sensor. Using CIMPLICITY, the integrator isn’t limited to a small prebuilt library of symbols to choose from with basic GREEN healthy or RED non-healthy animations. 

 

Wheel detectors and axle counters can come in different shapes and sizes with different features enabled or disabled in certain locations. Haranczyk explained that an integrator has the option to use the same linked object for each field device, or they can develop a unique symbol with multiple color animations to show different device failures, a yellow standby state, or maybe a turquoise animation to show when the wheel diameter is smaller than the pre-set value to notify that a train car needs maintenance. 

Today, it’s axle counters. Tomorrow it can be a passenger-on-the-rail detection system. All of these systems need a diagnostic monitoring system, and CIMPLICITY continues to prove its usefulness as a one stop-shop to help end users have one all-encompassing Central Monitoring System.

Alina Haranczyk - CEO and managing partner at iniTECH

About iniTECH Industrial

At iniTECH, we help customers meet their goals by developing, implementing, and supporting custom process automation and information integration solutions. iniTECH has been serving a variety of industries through more than 150 combined years of experience. We have a unique combination of engineers, consultants, and programmers with the in-depth knowledge required for successful completion of automation challenges. iniTECH is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) in 16 States and proud member of AREMA, the American Railway Engineering & Maintenance-of-way Association.

About AutomaTech

AutomaTech is a leading provider of industrial technology solutions focused on improving your operational performance. By harnessing the power of data, we enable significant gains, visibility across your entire organization, and increased profits for a competitive edge. Our product offering includes a flexible and scalable mix of hardware and software solutions to solve your toughest challenges while providing a roadmap for future improvements and growth.