Points Condition Monitoring

The Points Monitoring System (PMS) is the proven-in-service Balfour Beatty implementation of points condition monitoring (PCM). The PMS has been developed through close collaboration with our customers to ensure that it meets their needs in both metro and mainline rail systems. The PMS combines straightforward sensor technology with a flexible, distributable local interface and options for physical or cloud-implemented storage and display that can be used with mobile devices for immediate feedback of maintenance effectiveness on site. Leading-edge, intelligent data analysis provides predictive and diagnostic capabilities, which when combined with the built-in maintenance event recording provide maintenance staff and management a complete picture of the running rail infrastructure’s most critical assets.

The basis of the PMS is the PCMALERT module, which is adaptable to different points mechanism supply modes (three phase AC, single phase AC, DC). The PCMALERT is connected to current sensors, a supply voltage reference and spare (i.e. voltage-free) contacts on position detection relays where available. The combination of these inputs provides a comprehensive set of dynamic, direct measurements (current, voltage), derived measurements (instantaneous power consumption by phase and in total) and statistics covering each movement (e.g. total energy use, time to move, peak current). Force calculations can also be derived with client-sourced information about machine efficiency.

The data and analysis is processed, stored and displayed using a series of tangible or virtual PCs depending on the desired implementation. The cloud implementation is very secure and provides the best reliability to the user because multiple connections are available as with any internet resource.

The trends that are created by plotting the statistics automatically establish a ‘normal’ range of operation without having to go to site to create reference profiles or envelopes. Actual and potential exceedences from this range are detected by threshold techniques in the first instance but also by intelligent machine learning that is leading the field in points diagnosis, able to pinpoint exactly the stages of points operation from power-up through unlock, traverse, lock and power-down. This enables any anomaly to be narrowed to a smaller set of causes, saving time to repair and building a larger picture of the common failure modes that might be eliminated by design in future.

  • Flexible interface: can be installed in a single cabinet or distributed across the equipment room
  • Secure but highly accessible cloud implementation of storage, processing and display systems viewable on any browser, or physical installation if preferred
  • Effective graphical displays and data commentary / input methods
  • Intelligent analysis, alerting and diagnostics with machine learning techniques
  • Provides early detection of problems before they cause service disruption
  • Informs maintainers when preventative maintenance is required
  • Enables the effectiveness of the maintenance carried out to be assessed immediately and in the longer term
  • Allows any failures to be repaired more quickly utilising enhanced diagnostics
  • Enables better understanding of failure modes and system weaknesses to be addressed
  • Allows renewals to be planned to prevent failure due to age/wear based on actual usage statistics rather than standard intervals
  • Effective collaboration between Balfour Beatty engineers and the customer to ensure they get the best results from the PMS

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