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EXCITING: Knorr-Bremse offers innovative technologies for boosting rail traffic flow

EXCITING: Knorr-Bremse offers innovative technologies for boosting rail traffic flow
photo: Knorr-Bremse/Knorr-Bremse offers innovative technologies for boosting rail traffic flow
14 / 09 / 2022

Knorr-Bremse, the global market leader for braking systems and other rail and commercial vehicle systems, is offering new technologies for boosting the capacity of existing rail infrastructure. Smooth-flowing traffic is an important lever for achieving this aim. At InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin (Main Hall 1.2, Booth 250), Knorr-Bremse will showcase connected solutions for making freight and passenger traffic more efficient and sustainable – not least by digitizing and automating key systems and components.

The capacity of existing rail infrastructure in Europe and many other parts of the world needs to increase if the rail transportation demands of businesses, policymakers, and society, in general, are to be satisfied. “The basic prerequisite is smooth, high-performance transportation of freight and passengers,” says Dr. Jürgen Wilder, Member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG and responsible for the Rail Vehicle Systems division. “To meet customer needs, we’re developing solutions that optimize freight traffic, help operators manage rising passenger numbers, and make rail vehicles more available. All this depends on the digitization, automation, and electrification of many different systems. An outstanding example of our progress is the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) for the rail freight market.”

Key innovations: Digital Freight Train and DAC with electric contact coupling

The Digital Freight Train is all about high-performance freight traffic, including efficient train dispatching and high vehicle availability. One of the key enablers of manageable, rapid, flexible freight transportation by rail is the Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) or FreightLink as it is called at Knorr-Bremse. As well as enabling automatic mechanical/pneumatic coupling and decoupling of railcars, it also supports consistently reliable power and data connections throughout the train. After extensive testing of the electric contact coupling system (e-coupler) – the DAC module for making all these connections – Knorr-Bremse has achieved an important milestone: The design is currently the only one that fulfills all customer requirements, especially in terms of complying with DAC dimensions, which are subject to a limit of 200 millimeters from the center of the coupling head. Among other benefits, the system will also enable Knorr-Bremse to bring automated brake testing and condition-based maintenance to the freight segment.

The UIC compact freight car brake (CFCB) is another key element in the Digital Freight Train (DFT) concept. This extremely robust, reliable brake unit stands out by virtue of its stability and efficiency, reflected by long overhaul cycles of up to 15 years. It can also be digitally upgraded – which is why it is DFT-compatible.

Just as FreightLink (for rail freight cars) and HybridLink (for locomotives) streamline train operations in the rail freight business, so do Automatic Coupling Solutions in the passenger business. The AutoLink automatic center buffer coupler connects traction units to each other, while the ShortLink semi-permanent coupler connects together railcars in a trainset. Both components can be equipped with electric contact couplers.

Evolution of Braking

The ongoing “Evolution of Braking” has produced tailored brake controls for multiple units, for optimized braking system performance. The standardized CubeControl family of brake control systems includes both electronic and pneumatic elements in a single mechatronic unit. With very little effort, customers can use project-specific software to adapt the different hardware versions to their needs. The FlexControl family of brake control systems, on the other hand, takes a more individual approach. By selecting electronic, pneumatic, mechanical, and software subcomponents from the flexible, modular FlexControl toolkit, Knorr-Bremse’s systems engineers can configure and program a complete, highly customized system.

The Reproducible Braking Distance (RBD) development program is also groundbreaking. The technology contributes to higher utilization of the rail infrastructure by significantly reducing the variance and spread of braking distances. To make this possible, Knorr-Bremse has combined the innovative Deceleration Control (DCC) system with the improved WheelGrip Adapt wheel slide protection system and SandGrip sanding system. The company’s electromechanical brake (EM brake) also aims to increase track capacity by reducing braking distances, based on improved dynamics. Instead of transferring braking signals and energy pneumatically, the system does so electrically using brake-by-wire technology. The low-noise EM brake, which has fewer – and simpler – mechanical and electrical interfaces, is one of the key enablers of the “airless train”. Its smart diagnostic and monitoring capabilities further improve vehicle availability. During extensive field trials involving 200 braking maneuvers at speeds of up to 160 km/h and braking forces of up to 36 kN, Knorr-Bremse has already collected much valuable performance and operating data.

IFE and Evac continue to develop proven subsystems

LIFEDrive for metro entrance systems was designed by IFE, Knorr-Bremse’s world-leading brand for train door systems, to enable passengers to enter and exit trains faster. LIFEDrive (Linear motor IFE Drive) is a space-efficient, retrofittable system that controls the entrance system’s two-door leaves independently – an industry first. Even if one door is blocked, the flow of passengers can continue, significantly reducing any boarding or alighting delays and avoiding disruptions to tight metro timetables. The compact toilet system produced by Evac, a Knorr-Bremse brand since 2021, makes a similar contribution to passenger comfort. Equipped with integrated fault detection and rectification functions, the system is also quick and easy to replace for maintenance purposes, minimizing train downtime.

Digitized subsystems for predictive maintenance

Knorr-Bremse’s electrohydraulic Flat Floor Design for Light Rail Vehicles can accept the most compact, space-saving hydraulic braking system on the market – the HydroControl Smart electrohydraulic supply and control unit with the integrated electronic brake control system. By using condition-based maintenance (CBM), the system enables engineers to take a highly targeted approach to service braking equipment. The flexible power electronics in the System Integrated Functional Unit (SIFU) developed by Knorr-Bremse brand Microelettrica Scientifica also use CBM to improve vehicle availability. The modular SIFU integrates a very large number of train control and diagnostic functions in a single, compact enclosure, and can reduce overall cabling requirements by more than 70 percent.


Source: Knorr-Bremse Press Releases