More than ever before, rail operators, shippers and travelers all count on trains arriving on time and at the scheduled destination. Delayed shipments and travelers have a negative impact on reputation, profitability and productivity.

Globally, switch failures are consistently the primary cause of train delays. Consistent delays contribute to increased fuel costs, crew expenses, and maintenance & repair costs. One of the largest US railroads has reported that issues with railway signaling switches and switch machines cost them millions of dollars annually.

Effective railway switch monitoring can alleviate failures by allowing rail operators time to execute repairs and resolve issues.  Railroads can foresee when a particular switch is failing enabling them to respond proactively and plan work of maintenance forces.

  • Designed to improve the overall availability of power-operated turnouts and crossovers
  • United Rail’s Switch Sentinel is a microprocessor-based system that monitors power-operated railway turnouts and crossovers
  • Using the profile of switch motor current while the machine operates as an indicator of the overall ‘health‘ of a switch layout
  • The system compares those readings to a known baseline to predict many of the common problems that, if left uncorrected, can cause a switch to fail and not successfully operate to end positions 
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  • Significant Cost Savings as a result of decreased train delays and breakdowns
  • Reduce Operational Cost of maintenance with preventive and planned maintenance vs. emergency maintenance
  • Improve Efficiency by having availability of the entire turnout and early detection of upcoming switch issues caused by:Turnout Components
    • Switch Machine
    • Power Supply of the Switch Machine
  • Amend Worker Safety with less time spent on the track due to emergency situations
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To learn more about Sentinel Solutions, please contact us.

The goal of any remote switch monitoring solution is to detect switch failures before they will cause a train delay, thereby giving maintenance personnel the opportunity to schedule repairs or adjustments instead of reacting to an emergency. The Switch Sentinel provides clear indication of the potential issue so that maintenance personnel have a better idea where to look before arriving on site to fix the problem. It also permits better advance coordination between different maintenance groups.

  • Among the issues that can be detected are:
  • Excessive point pressure
  • Clutch slippage
  • Binding in switch layout
  • Lack of lubrication
  • Lock rod misadjustment
  • Motor control contact problems
  • Motor brush wear issues
  • Misadjusted point detector
The Switch Sentinel’s on-site microprocessor-based data acquisition unit collects and records the switch machine’s motor current dynamically with each operation of the switch. At the same time, it records the status of the point detector contacts, ambient temperature, battery voltages and assigns a time stamp to each data record.
  • Featuring
  • Simple configuration
  • Non-invasive monitoring
  • No circuit modificationsseemed-583818_1920
  • Switch throw data accessible locally
  • Interfaces to any switch machine, including biased-neutral controller models
  • Compatible with low voltage (20-28 VDC) and high voltage (110-120 VAC/DC) switch machines
  • Data available via laptop, automatic USB download or optional portable, USB-connected LCD interface to view last and prior throw information
  • Standard data interface to variety of commercially-available telecommunications devices
The Switch Sentinel’s back office system collects, stores and analyzes switch throw data from each monitored switch as data is received from the on-site data acquisition units. Looking for variances in the throw data from baseline data established for each individual switch, the software generates alert or alarm messages to customer-specified recipients. It also provides an intuitive graphical interface that displays switch locations on a map-based overlay, and actual & historical throw data for any monitored switch.
  • Featuringimage (7)
  • Straightforward system configuration with permission-based access rights
  • Simple method to add/edit/delete individual switches
  • Structured Query Language (SQL) database engine
  • Powerful searching, sorting and data analysis tools included
  • Customer-selectable alert/alarm trigger points
  • Trend analysis of historical data
The Switch Sentinel is based on the principle that the condition of the entire switch layout can be determined by monitoring the amount of power required to operate the switch points. The system records motor current and other relevant information in the field with every operation of the switch and sends it to the back office via existing wide-area network or cell/satellite modem, among other options. The server there compares received current data against baseline values. Based on user-selectable trigger points, the server software can send emails and/or text messages to selected recipients when alert/alarm thresholds are exceeded. It can also be configured to interact with the client’s other management reporting systems.

The on-site data acquisition unit (DAU) records and stores the information locally. In the present configuration, each DAU can monitor up to two switch machines. For larger locations, higher-capacity modular units will be available. In addition to the inputs for motor current, the DAU also provides auxiliary inputs to measure other information like end position detection, temperature, voltage, intrusion control, etc. Current and historical data is stored locally, but all data presentation, analysis and reporting, however, is performed by the server software.

Switch Sentinal

As with any server-based system for which multiple users will need different levels of access, the permission-based back office server access makes administration of different user groups simple and straightforward. A configuration tool allows administrators to add new switches, to assign territories, locations, switch numbers, etc. The thresholds at which the system generates an alert or alarm can be easily configured by the end customer.

Based on secure SQL technology, the server can store a virtually unlimited number of switches and operations. Alert/alarm notification is configurable and can be set up as email, SMS, etc. Data presentation is flexible as well, with the ability to sort data by any combination of inputs, from switch machine type to territory to temperature, etc. A map-based interface is included to permit the operator to zoom in to and click on any monitored switch and view its throw data and history directly. The graphical representation of motor current over time against baseline values, and display of trending curves over time are only two of the many ways to view events and histories.

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