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Using the TBox RTU

The TBox remote telemetry unit (RTU) products are currently used in many installations to monitor and automate railway heating systems that prevent build-up of ice and snow. Normally employed at electrical switch points, these systems ensure safety for reliable traffic operations.

In addition to providing safety and reliability, heating systems can realise major savings in energy costs through automation. Using a programmable device like TBox provides significant savings compared to older techniques in which the heaters are either constantly on for the entire winter or operated by a thermostat.

SAN Railway Systems (part of SAN Electro Heat A/S), a Servelec integration partner in Denmark, using a programmable TBox device, as part of their System Blue Point, and have realised savings between 25% and 71% over prior methodologies.

These installations all require timely notification of failures in heating equipment, temperature sensors, and weather stations as well as timely notification of changing live conditions, particularly weather-related. The TBox alarm management system informs operators and escalates reporting if acknowledgement does not come through in a user-configured time.

The TBox data logging capabilities comprise an additional key requirement for switching locations. The historical reports include a variety of information of on-site conditions and are used for maintenance purposes and improvements in operations.

For maintenance, equipment run times and weather conditions are combined in maintenance reports and allow TBox devices to notify maintenance staff of an approaching milestone. Railway operations have realised savings by reducing the number of site visits conducted for maintenance checking /inspection purposes.

Historical information has proven invaluable for modifying operations in order to increase efficiency. SAN Railway Systems optimised settings based on historical information and took this capability a step further by employing online tuning of individual control parameters. With the instant status provided by the communications network, users can view the live status across the entire system and change settings in a matter of seconds.

TBox programmable automation has allowed SAN Railway Systems to provide standard applications with user-configurable parameters. Their intelligent, pre-programmed RTU application uses input from cold and heated rail temperature sensors and a weather station. It controls up to eight switch points and provides energy-optimised temperature settings and four weather modes.

The variety of communications interfaces in TBox devices has proven very important in railway applications. Installed systems are using Ethernet, RS-485, GSM, and GSM/GPRS communications. In case of communications failures, the TBox-based remote system operates independently as a stand-alone controller.

For railway heating systems, TBox:

  • Monitors all conditions such as rail temperatures and heater status as well as the weather. Weather stations provide temperature, humidity, wind speed, and a snowfall detector.
  • Programmable automation provides significant energy savings by operating heaters only when necessary and using optimization control.
  • Uses push technology to notify multiple recipients of alarms and anomalous live conditions such as heater failures.
  • Escalates alarm reports if not acknowledged.
  • Efficiently uses public networks and minimizes transmissions by sending reports via e-mail, SMS text, or FTP via IP only when required.
  • In conjunction with programmable automation, uses the communication network to allow for rapid changing of configuration parameters.
  • Serves web pages, which comprise a very low-cost HMI for depiction of live and historical information.
  • Generates historical reports and trends which are used for system maintenance and to improve efficiency.

TBox

Combining alarm notification, data logging, integral web server, IP telemetry, and programmable automation in a single, rugged package. TBox uniquely supports a broad range of core functionality. Click here to learn more.

Click here to download the case study.

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