Connecting Track Machines seamlessly for a better Rail Infrastructure

Wireless connection between two track machines

Tech Insights

We, at tmc, make railway infrastructure maintenance digitalization a smooth and straightforward process! This is what all our products have been developed for. The world-technology leading machine manufacturer Plasser & Theurer creates track machines that are designed to build and maintain a stable and precise track geometry. And together, we not only make machines smart, we also connect them to amplify the effect.

Done as a pilot case for Plasser & Theurer, and for the first time in rail, we connected Plasser’s latest measurement car EM100VT to its universal tamping machine Unimat 09-4×4/4S E³. You might have heard this being done by some manufacturers in the car industry, but more particularly, such a development is a big leap forward into the future of the rail industry as it further advances railway infrastructure’s integration, because now measurement runs can be automatically uploaded into the cloud and then downloaded to a tamping machine to direct the tamping process without human interference needed to do so. The machines talk to each other, like two people over the phone.

Pilot deployed in Purkersdorf, Austria

How is it done? We have adapted our tmMDC solution for this purpose and deployed it in Purkersdorf, Lower Austria, to establish the machine-cloud-machine connection between the two machines. But progress does not stop there. Andreas Theiss, tmc’s COO remarked that “upon such a milestone, tmc is looking forward to rolling this out on a bigger scale for all tool and machine manufacturers and owners. With this development, we have taken a big step toward an even better railway infrastructure and have optimized maintenance.” Also celebrating tmc’s new success, Florian Auer, Plasser & Theurer’s Director Technology & Innovation, added that it is “great to see the concept now become reality. As we’re connecting the machines, we’re opening up new paths of efficiency, and higher levels of transparency and safety.”

Increased safety, efficiency and data-openness

The connection of track machines has achieved a higher efficiency terms of machine usage, and as one machine learns from the other, measurement and tamping can go forward, hand in hand. In addition, saving time is a crucial factor that speeds up information retrieval. It is no longer needed to wait for a download or re-upload data on a USB stick.

Safety, always a priority at our company, is further upgraded via the elimination of system viruses and human error, such as losing retrieved information. And last, we have achieved a new level of system openness, with which we can provide and correlate open data.

About the Machine Data Connector tmMDC

Certified for use in railway, with the availability of just an internet connection, the Machine Data Connector (tmMDC) is a data logging edge device, that while integrated in the track machine, was and is originally used to monitor your fleet in real time from anywhere in the world. Even if the machine is switched off, tmMDC still measures the machine’s temperature, its battery voltage and provides its current physical location. Data is securely stored in the cloud, and in the case of unavailable GSM connection, the information can be stocked up to three months via a battery buffer.

As to our next steps, the plan is to keep connecting machines. Stay tuned as we progress to find out more about the use cases, benefits and learnings we draw from connecting track machines.

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