Traditional methods of rail track maintenance and repair affect operators as the cost of manually detecting and clearing obstacles are quite high. From a fallen tree on the track to crucial misalignments, there are currently various innovative solutions in development that aim to help operators run trains without unnecessary delays. British startup Vortex IoT develops RODIO – Railway Optical Detection of Intrusions and Obstructions, a railway condition monitoring system that detects obstacles on the rail tracks. Easily scalable and cost-effective compared to traditional methods of obstacle detection, this simple yet powerful solution could potentially make rail transportation safer.
While loading freight, human error can lead to expensive spills, damages, or even theft. Those workers loading freight usually are exposed to the threat of injury or exposure to harmful chemicals. Railway freight operators are increasingly adopting technology to make their operations safer for their workers, more cost-effective, and better for the environment. Canadian scaleup TransRail Innovation Group develops sensors for loading liquid freight into car tanks. TLoad helps terminal operators improve worker safety by rethinking the loading processes and XLoad is designed for freight operators to conduct accurate level measurements for the load. Their solution eliminates the need to open tanks for calculating such data, a sensor placed inside and around the car tank provides and monitors the level constantly.
Many countries today have trains and extensive railway networks. However, they also lack basic safety mechanisms and public awareness about railroad safety is quite low. Given this, it is no surprise that the number of rail line crossing deaths is quite shocking. The IoT is set to play a major role in ensuring railway safety standards are maintained, implemented, and improved. Indian startup Auza Tech develops smart line crossing sensors designed for the railway sector in India. Their sensor is placed on the boom barriers and provides clear information to the station authority to make decisions regarding train signals. The real-time monitoring of line or level crossings ensures the authorities can take swift action in response to violations.
In most railway locomotives sand is used as a lubricant for the tracks to ensure there is no skidding during slippery or icy conditions. Other forms of lubricators are also used to improve rail friction balance. Top-of-rail wetness is a particularly common issue faced by operators in many parts of the world. IoT sensors for monitoring such processes save operators cost and time. The US-based company Elecsys Corp develops IoT solutions for remote monitoring of rail friction. Their solution notifies operators when the lubricator tank is empty or if it is malfunctioning. The tank can be opened or closed remotely and can be monitored in real-time with the help of cellular networks. This also frees up time for crews to attend to only the most pressing maintenance works.