Indian Railways has just got its first “SMART” coach … which has several new features that will go a long way in enhancing the safety and security of train journeys and enhancing passenger comfort.
According to Indian Railways, SMART coach aims to provide world-class facilities to passengers with the help of an intelligent sensor-based system. With the use of SMART coach, Indian Railways aims to move to predictive maintenance instead of preventive maintenance. The SMART coach has been manufactured by the Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli as part of the Made in India initiative. SMART coach has been built on the LHB-platform and comes equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and a centralised computer that in turn monitors all the sensors. Ashwani Lohani, Chairman of Railway Board today inspected the first SMART coach and soon 100 such coaches will be rolled out.
The SMART coach offers Indian Railways a single window platform to monitor several key indicators of the train’s health – from coach diagnosis to security and surveillance system. From a passenger’s perspective the SMART coach boasts of a Wi-fi hot spot information system. This means passengers can connect their devices – laptop, tables and mobile phones – to WiFi and watch movies and play songs!
Salient features of Indian Railways first SMART coach:
1. The SMART coach has a “vibration-based self power harvesting sensor” that is there on the axle box. This helps predict wheel defects, defects on the bearings, and hard spot (defects) on the track. What this means is that Indian Railways will now be able to plan maintenance as per need. This will also eliminate line failures.
Perpetuum’s wireless sensor node – powered by the vibration for at least 20 years!
2. SMART coach has a Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU) a CPU that is similar to an industrial grade computer. This has been provided with GSM network which sends ‘exception reports’ to the remote server. PICCU will monitor 4 important areas of coach maintenance and passenger interface.
a. Security and surveillance system: CCTV system with artificial intelligence capability will improve the security standards of the train and also help in keeping a check on the behaviour of the railway staff. The footage would help track untoward incidents.
b. GPS-based passenger announcement and passenger information system and the digital destination board: The passenger information system keeps passengers informed about the current location of the train, expected time of arrival at the next station and the speed of the train.
c. Coach diagnostic system: The SMART coach system can monitor the brake system and detect any default in it. This in turn can be communicated to the maintenance staff.
d. Interface with other sub-systems like air conditioning, fire detection and alarm system, disc brake system and water level indicator.
According to Indian Railways with the SMART coach, the overall maintenance cost will come down since the sensor based system will provide advance notification about impending faults. Indian Railways claims that the cost of the system – approximately Rs 12-14 lakh will be recovered in a year’s time.