Perpetuum software to keep Scotrail moving

10 September 2017

Science Park company Perpetuum has secured a major contract to fit its unique wireless sensors across ScotRail Alliance’s entire fleet of Class 334 electric trains.

The sensors will monitor the condition of wheels and wheel bearings continually and in real time, providing centralised data readings which alert fleet management when a train is ready for maintenance or of a potential fault developing.

CEO Dr Steve Turley explains more: “Modern trains are complex pieces of equipment and even a small fault can bring them, and a large part of the entire network, to a grinding halt. Most current rail maintenance regimes are mileage or time based, which means maintenance is done regardless of condition, resulting in both massive waste and unpredictable breakdowns.

“Our condition monitoring approach enables train operators to conduct maintenance only when necessary. They’re not risking being caught out because damage is reported in real time before it causes delays or presents a safety issue. Our system improves reliability and customer service by reducing the time trains spend in maintenance depots. At the same time, track officials can pinpoint changes in track condition, allowing prompt repair and subsequently lessening damage to the train wheels.”

Widespread reporting of pressures across the UK’s rail network confirms that this approach is much needed. Official figures show the number of passenger journeys on franchised rail services in Britain increased by 69.5% between 2002 and 2015. Meanwhile, train companies are under growing pressure to manage costs, increase reliability and ensure they get maximum usage from all assets.

ScotRail Alliance Fleet Director, Angus Thom, said: “Keeping our trains out on the tracks, delivering a safe and efficient rail service is essential to our operation. This technology helps our maintenance teams make informed and timely decisions around monitoring repairs and potential problems, so keeping our 334 fleet in optimal operating condition.”

Perpetuum is a former University of Southampton spin-out. Over 10,000 of its sensors are in use by rail operators in England, the USA and Australia, clocking up more than 1.5bn miles of service experience between them.