Pantograph monitoring with pinpoint accuracy

Defective pantographs can cause significant damage to overhead wires and associated components of the infrastructure. In extreme cases they can lead to de-wirements, incurring costly and time-consuming repairs and causing significant delays to services.

With such consequences at stake it is crucial to perform regular checks on pantograph integrity.

Although they are typically subjected to scheduled manual inspections - usually during routine overnight maintenance windows - the true condition of a vehicle’s pantograph cannot be properly assessed by torchlight.

And even regular inspections will not guarantee the detection of sudden defects – such as those caused by harsh weather conditions  – that can accelerate wear and tear.

This is where a specialist, accurate monitoring system, such as PanMon, can make a difference.

Introducing PanMon

Through a combination of radar, laser, video and photo technology, PanMon can monitor individual pantographs on traffic passing at speeds of up to 250 km/hr with pinpoint accuracy.

Using images captured by cameras that can be positioned anywhere along the track, PanMon uses specialist pattern-recognition analysis software to, first, identify the type of pantograph that is passing, and second, automatically interpret the images into full condition assessments of each individual pantograph.

On occasions where the system detects any notable damage on the pantograph, an alarm is immediately sent to the control centre for specific attention.

Following a successful two year trial, and the award of Product Approval for use across the UK network, 12 PanMon systems are planned for installation on the West Coast Main Line in 2017, with other routes to follow.

Among other things, PanMon can detect and locate:

  • Imperfections, or missing pieces, within the carbon strip;
  • Chipping on the edges of the carbon strips;
  • Horns and their status (e.g. broken or bent);
  • Defects of the strip holder (e.g. bent, broken, or misaligned);
  • The remaining thickness of the carbon strip;
  • Contact wire ‘uplift’  (with a separate camera module, looking at the wire from the side of the track)

For infrastructure owners, PanMon can not only identify vehicles that pose a greater risk of inflicting damage to the network’s wires, it can also help them to work with operators to take preventative action and, ultimately, extend the life of both wires and onboard pantograph equipment.

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