Gold Standard in Train Detection
Operators encounter many trade-offs in the day-to-day and long term operation of their railroads. They are often presented with the challenge of achieving high availability and uptime, while facing the reality of high maintenance costs for conventional train detection systems.
For decades, axle counting systems have been proven globally as the gold standard in train detection. In addition to providing high levels of availability, uptime and reliability, these systems also offer lower installation, maintenance and lifecycle costs when compared to the track circuit based systems commonly found in North America.
State-of-the-art axle counters by Frauscher
Axle counting systems primarily provide “clear” or “occupied” status information for track sections. However, Frauscher's modern systems also have the capability to deliver additional types of vital and non-vital information to the operator for further controls and benefits.
How does the technology work?
Axle counting systems consist of indoor and outdoor equipment components, offering flexible design options.
Highly Available Wheel Sensors
Outdoor equipment components
The outdoor equipment consists of highly reliable wheel sensors, clamped to the rail with a Frauscher rail claw and placed at each entry or exit point of a track section,
When a train traverses a wheel sensor, the metallic wheels dampen the inductive field picked up by the receiving coils, altering the analog signal that is transmitted back to the indoor equipment. The analog signal from the wheel sensor is transmitted to the indoor equipment via the wheel sensor’s tail cable. This cable is connected to a 4-conductor signaling cable in a trackside connection box, that is sealed from water and dust. The indoor equipment can be housed in trackside huts or centralized control equipment rooms, with space efficient board racks that allow for flexible design.
High Performance Electronics
The evaluator equipment consists of an overvoltage protection component (BSI) that guards against interference voltages that could be induced into the signaling cable. The current signal from the wheel sensor continues on to an evaluation board (AEB) that interprets the changes in current as wheels passing. The evaluation boards then record axle counts for the entered track sections. These evaluation boards can be integrated into existing controllers by means of vital and fail-safe relay interfaces and Ethernet protocols.
Frauscher axle counting systems offer many benefits to system integrators and operators. As a component level supplier, we strive to deliver advantages for system integrators as they design and implement systems, and for the operators who must consider the long-term use of the system.
The modular and flexible architecture of the FAdC enables the system to operate from a centralized location, or distributed among multiple locations via an Ethernet link to exchange information. This allows for the optimal design for any location.
Easy, modular and flexible configuration
Configuration flexibility gives integrators the ability to design a system that is tailored to their individual project, scaling requirements relevant to their specific needs. The one-to-one relationship of Frauscher wheel sensors to advanced evaluation boards provides a cost effective design, since you only pay for the number of components you need. Other systems only offer predefined racks requiring the purchase of unneeded equipment. Furthermore, this flexible configuration allows for the same components to be used in multiple applications simultaneously, such as train detection for signaling and red signal overrun, or train detection for signaling and grade crossing activation.
Simplified project management
Frauscher axle counting systems are modular and highly flexible, and at the same time extremely straightforward to plan, design and configure. Once an integrator has established a core design for a project, this design can easily be adapted for other projects or locations. Frauscher technical experts can provide integrators with comprehensive configuration training, allowing them to create their own project designs in the future with minimal additional assistance.
Overall cost savings for projects
There are many factors that contribute to the overall cost savings of designing a Frauscher axle counting system. A choice of design options means less time is spent overcoming troublesome obstacles inherent with less flexible conventional signaling systems. The time and cost requirements of installation are greatly reduced compared to other systems, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with existing technologies provides design options that are easier to implement.
Cost effective options for less safety critical applications
The FAdCi offers integrators a cost-effective option for applications that have a simpler design and are less safety critical, such as yards. The FAdCi provides all of the benefits of the FAdC, and is fail-safe with a SIL 3 safety rating.
Low installation time and cost, seamless transition
Using the Frauscher rail claw, each wheel sensor takes five minutes to install, providing significant savings on materials and labor. The bonds and wiring required with conventional track circuits are eliminated, significantly reducing installation costs. Frauscher systems can be overlaid with the existing system, allowing operations to continue running normally during testing and commissioning. This essentially eliminates downtime when adding or switching over the signaling system.
Reduced maintenance and lifecycle costs
Frauscher systems require preventative maintenance only once in two years. This maintenance includes a simple visual check that the sensor is securely and properly positioned, and a quick operational inspection that can be completed remotely or at the trackside hut. These checks require just a few minutes per sensor to complete. This results in a significant reduction in time and costs when compared to the testing and maintenance requirements of conventional systems.
High uptime and availability
Frauscher wheel sensors are not affected by environmental conditions such as flooding and snow, or by deteriorated track & ballast conditions. As a result, the system maintains high availability and uptime compared to conventional signaling systems that are negatively affected by these conditions.
Software protocol options
The Frauscher Safe Ethernet FSE protocol has characteristics, options and advantages that allow for maximum flexibility. Operator specified protocols can be easily implemented to meet customer requirements, providing seamless integration with any controller or protocol. Vital information such as occupancy status and direction of travel is transmitted using the axle counter as an extension of the controller’s vital IOs.
Ethernet can be provided via copper, fiber or wireless, as any option will work with the FSE. Utilizing Ethernet instead of relays provides tangible savings, eliminating significant installation costs and the lifetime maintenance and replacement considerations associated with relays. No maintenance of the interface is required.
Remote diagnostics and maintenance
The Frauscher Diagnostic System FDS is a functionally advanced and powerful tool that enables preventative maintenance at the operator’s fingertips. With 24X7 status monitoring and the option of forwarding information to devices such as an iPad, this remote access makes corrective maintenance tasks more efficient. Dispatchers and maintenance personnel can quickly zero in on the location and type of issue. System alerts provide advance notification of developing faults, allowing the operator to troubleshoot the system from the operations center. Preventive and targeted maintenance can then be performed, often remotely. This drastically reduces the amount, time, and cost of scheduled routine maintenance, increasing efficiency.