Measuring energy needs with prototypes that monitor trains in real time with a local wireless sensor network. Photograph: IMMS.
Measuring energy needs with prototypes that monitor trains in real time with a local wireless sensor network. Photograph: IMMS.

Voices from industry and academia

Dr. Uwe Stöpel, Funkwerk

”Funkwerk is the international market and technology leader in professional radio systems for rolling stock. We hold and keep this position by allocating a third of our entire staff to our research and development section. We never cease to question our products from the F&E angle, because we want not only to ensure that we stay at the cutting edge but also to be able to offer our customers tailor-made, flexible systems on an ongoing basis.

With understanding for the huge costs involved in the monitoring and maintenance side of logistics, we have also looked for means of monitoring freight trains even as they are moving – in an effective, energy-saving and reasonably-priced manner. This has given rise to the idea of logging data at the locomotive from all sensors in a rake and broadcasting them by radio. In the process, it would be necessary that the occasional interruptions to the radio signal which are to be expected would not impair the system as a whole.

IMMS, with whom we had excellent cooperation as early as 2007 and whose fortunes we have followed with interest meanwhile, has given us real support in developing an appropriate solution. The name of the project is ’fast realtime’. IMMS is in possession of deep knowledge of the potential and the challenge of wireless networks, also of how best to implement autonomous energy systems and to optimise energy use. On the basis of this knowledge, IMMS has developed impressive solutions for the monitoring of traffic and ambient conditions which are already in practical use. As a result, to cooperate with IMMS was an obvious move on our part in the tackling of the issues of maximum reliability and availability in the demanding environment presented by the rail sector.

The result of the collaboration is a prototype which serves to log and monitor freight train functions along the whole length and to transmit the data in real time. IMMS’ role has been to develop the wireless communication system which is internal to the train, to deliver the functionality which will monitor all the necessary parameters and to enable the system to work using a minimum of energy. We are very much satisfied with the result – the demonstrator system has been tested on a model train and works impeccably. IMMS has also provided us with simulation software for testing purposes so that we have been able to develop value-added aspects without loss of time. We benefitted from having in IMMS a most competent and committed partner in the specification of software and hardware interfaces.

And not only from that: also from their input of ideas as part of the general collaboration in meeting our requirements; and from their open-mindedness in finding the solution that matched the need and the environment, with real acceleration in the progress of the project. We could rely on them implicitly as our business partner and wish to express our gratitude for the fine collaboration. Currently, we are weighing up the possibility of testing the prototype on actual freight trains to see whether implementation on the industrial scale could follow successful testing as shared work with IMMS.“

Dr. Uwe Stöpel, Head of R&D, Funkwerk Systems GmbH Kölleda.