How to prevent train breakdowns on Traxx locomotives using the Railgenius rule engine?

Post by Ashley Argüello Blaison, Digital Marketing Manager at Railnova
February 23, 2022

As trains need to run reliably, locomotives must be readily available. Integrating predictive maintenance into its usual workflow makes the maintenance teams more efficient and better prepared. By detecting the possibility of a breakdown early on, cancelled or delayed trains due to small component failure can be a thing of the past.

An engineer spotting a small component that is now monitored via an alert on the Railgenius rule engine.

The suspected component

One of our customer’s maintenance managers noticed a specific fault code pattern on locomotive type Traxx AC1/2, also known as BR185, whenever they were brought in for maintenance because the pantograph was broken-down. After some observation, the malfunction seemed tied to one specific electrical component, triggering a fault code. The Maintenance Engineer thought the inconvenience could be avoided if the fault code was caught before the locomotive entered the depot.

One rule, three levels

The answer to this diagnostic problem lay in the finer details. The maintenance engineers identified three levels of urgency before a possible malfunction. Tests were made to prove that the rule reflected the fieldwork observations. It was found that three levels of urgency mirror the locomotive’s reality and the local teams possible responses. This would prove helpful in making the right decisions, depending on how close the breakdown might be.

The maintenance engineers use the Railgenius Rule Engine to create something specific to their needs. The result of this effort, the three urgency levels, is visualised in Railnova’s rule engine as follows:

What a rule looks like on Railgenius' rule engine.

Three levels of urgency are visible within the Railgenius rule engine

  • The first level, “Information”, happens when the fault code appears and disappears. Because its appearance is so fast, only automated monitoring ensures it’s not missed.
  • “Warning” is a more severe level. It is triggered when the fault code systematically appears and stays visible for some time. This was one of the Maintenance Engineer’scritical findings about this failure mode. Time intervals play a crucial role in differentiating the urgency levels. At this point, spare parts should be secured.
  • “Critical” is when the fault code appears and stays on for some time. As per the Maintenance Engineers’ experience, at this stage, it is only a short matter of time until he has a breakdown on his hands. It’s time to plan for the maintenance team to intervene and change the component.
Screenshot of the rule within the rule engine.

Screenshot of the rule engine settings


How engineer-made rules lead to a more reliable fleet

The rule was created and implemented on the Railnova platform in less than a week. With our platform’s Rule-replay-function, maintenance engineers and Railnova data specialists could test the rule on historical data and refine it before making it go live.

Testing ensured the quality of the rule. It also guaranteed that the triggers for the urgency levels – Information, Warning and Critical – were set correctly. These trials also proved the reliability of the results and gave the operator the confidence to act on those notifications as they could compare replayed detections with past occurrences. Just like that, relevant locomotives could automatically be monitored with this new rule!

Each time a fault code is detected, stakeholders get an alert directly to their inbox. Since its implementation at the end of 2019, the rule has detected the infamous fault code over twenty times on five distinct locomotives – all in different locations. Five of those times, the rule was critical in avoiding a breakdown. In other words, the rule is instrumental in making the fleet more reliable.

A screenshot of the alert email that is sent out when the rule detects a fault

Email setup

This rule is an excellent example of how easily a train engineer’s expertise can be automated into a detection rule. As more and more failure modes are discovered over time, countless rules can be created to monitor and prevent them.

Real-time telematic rules and alerts are easily set up on the Railnova platform. As shown above, these can be as straightforward or complex as you need them to be and have various parameters and triggers. If you want to understand more about the capabilities of the Railgenius rule engine for your fleet data, contact our team to discuss solutions that fit your needs! Just contact us by filling out the form at:

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