The autonomous measurement vehicle from IRT Australia
IRT's autonomous measurement vehicle

Harsh conditions in the outback: SoMat eDAQ used in Australian rail operations tests

The IRT Test Lab
The IRT Test Laboratory

Temperatures exceeding 50°C, dust, rain, vibration: Trains in the Australian outback have to meet extremely demanding requirements. The renowned Institute for Rail Technology (IRT) decided to use HBM's particularly rugged SoMat eDAQ data acquisition system when designing a new measurement vehicle for the transport of iron ore.

Australia has massive deposits of iron ore. Heavy haul freight trains that have to travel great distances are used for transporting the material from the mines in the Australian outback to the ports.

The freight lines are the lifeline of the international iron and steel industry. Therefore, long-term operational reliability of trains and tracks is of enormous importance - in particular under the extreme conditions in the Australian outback.

The Institute for Rail Technology (IRT), based at Monash University in Melbourne, has led many research projects to support rail operations in continually increasing reliability and efficiency.

Autonomous Measurement Vehicle

With decades of experience using measured data to assist rail operations IRT developed the concept of an autonomous measurement vehicle popularly referred to as an Instrumented Ore Car (IOC).

Some of the key requirements specified for the IOC hardware were:

  • Capable of handling extreme temperatures in the Australian outback where ambient temperatures often exceed 50°C.
  • Operate reliably in an environment of high vibration, dust and rain.
  • Flexible data sampling with the ability to log data at high speeds and and conduct real time data processing.
  • Ability to measure a broad range of transducer types ranging from strain gauges, displacements and pressures through to vehicle bus information.
  • Remote operation with ability to store large amounts of data.

After an excessive review of potential products, the SoMat eDAQ was chosen for its flexibility, ruggedness and support by the local HBM office in Australia. SoMat eDAQ modules are now used by IRT in IOCs at several major rail operations and have proven to be highly reliable and flexible in use.

Data from the IOCs is being extensively used by the rail networks for projects ranging from track maintenance activities to developing new train driver strategies.

SoMat eDAQ devices are also being extensively used by IRT personnel for other activities ranging from rail force measurements to rig tests due to the system’s ability to measure a broad range of operational parameters.

Institute for Rail Technology (IRT)

The Institute of Rail Technology (IRT) personnel have been providing technical support to the heavy haul, passenger and freight rail operations in Australia and Asia for more than 40 years. Based at Monash University’s Clayton Campus in Melbourne, Australia, IRT has established track record in solving railway-related technical issues, and its solutions have been adopted by railway systems throughout the world. IRT’s customers include BHPB-IO, Rio Tinto, FMG, Vale, MTR Hong Kong, Singapore MRT, Queensland Rail, QR National and Australian Rail Track Corporation to name a few.

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Data Acquisition System