Case Study

Infrabel pantograph monitoring system

Infrabel pantograph monitoring system
PanMon units monitor the overhead wires in Brussels
Published: 28 January 2020 Client name: Infrabel Service provided: Asset Optimisation

Real-time asset confition monitoring technology

Ricardo's pantograph monitoring system is used on the Belgian rail network as part of a drive by Infrabel, the Belgian infrastructure manager, to adopt a more data-oriented approach to its maintenance regimes.

Six monitoring units have been installed in the Brussels area after a pilot scheme in 2018 demonstrated the technology's ability to identify damaged pantograph units on in-service trains.

The system enables Infrabel to highlight incidents with vehicle operators and prevent faulty units causing costly damage to the overhead catenary.

Infrabel provided feedback in summer 2020 reporting that the units were accurately scanning all pantograph types. According to Infrabel, "It is very likely that by taking certain pantographs out of service, worse damage has been avoided".

These systems have identified damaged pantographs that needed immediate actions to avoid possible overhead wire breaks. Catenary engineer, Infrabel
These systems have identified damaged pantographs that needed immediate actions to avoid possible overhead wire breaks.

High definition pantograph monitoring

Ricardo's monitoring systems are equipped with lasers and cameras to capture real-time condition data and images of pantographs passing at speeds of up to 180km/hour.

The systems are used by infrastructure managers to measure

  • Carbon surface shape
  • Dangerous cracks and chips
  • Thickness of the remaining carbon
  • Pantograph uplift
  • Pantograph symmetry (pitch, jaw, roll)
  • Horn presence or damage

The captured data is reported to operational teams through a customised dashboard designed to draw attention to key trends and specified metrics.

Even though operational teams can access the reports and diagnostics at any time, the system will raise an alarm whenever specific thresholds have been exceeded. For more information, see our Monitoring Services page. 

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