A new product developed with support from Teesside University is set to revolutionise train locomotive maintenance by using Internet of Things technology.
Transmission Dynamics, based in Cramlington, Northumberland, has developed a Smart Oil Plug which can continuously monitor the condition and performance of rail assets minimising the need for costly rebuilds.
The company manufactures wireless telemetry and data acquisition systems for use in a variety of sectors across the world including renewable energy, mining, marine, defence, automotive and rail.
It developed the concept of a smart device which could provide remote condition monitoring for gearboxes and report back on the detection of unusual vibrations, metal particles and oil temperature.
The system uses wireless technology to provide an insight into the condition of the gearbox. The concept is the first of its kind as other external monitoring systems using wired technology were quickly damaged by debris from the rail track with the only other alternative being to take apart and overhaul gearboxes at shorter intervals.
Business innovation managers from Teesside University supported Transmission Dynamics to apply for a grant worth almost £500,000 from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop a bespoke testing facility and prototype Smart Oil Plug. Jennifer Hudson wrote the successful bid application with colleague Omar Al-Janabi providing ongoing consultancy support to the company.
Results from the trial have exceeded expectations and the Smart Oil Plug not only reports back on the condition of the gearbox, but the data it collects can also be used to analyse the quality of the rail track, the axles, wheel and bearings and even the engine.
Transmission Dynamics is now in talks with rail operators to test the plug on live trains.
Professor Jarek Rosinski, Chief Executive of Transmission Dynamics, said: “This has been an excellent partnership with the University which has yielded significant results.
“The feedback that we have received from Innovate UK is that this project has been one of the best funding bids that they have received.
“We’re very excited by the potential of the Smart Oil Plug and are already looking into further applications for the technology.”
Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise, said: “This has been a fantastic collaboration with Transmission Dynamics and it is great to see it bearing fruit.
“The company is developing some truly innovative technology which is set to have a major impact on our transport systems.”
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