PM ‘n’ IDEA – Predictive Maintenance employing Non-intrusive Inspection &
Data Analysis – is a jointly funded research project focused on the
development of novel inspection and sensor technologies for rail track
infrastructure. It is a three year project of around 5 million euros which
commenced in June 2009.
The project has two key drivers:
- To contribute towards the realisation of a 24 x 7 railway by minimising
the disruption caused by activities such as inspection, remedial and
reactive maintenance, and track renewal;
- The introduction of novel sensor and inspection technologies which focus
more on the monitoring of degradation through the measurement of deviation
from identified benchmark data known as a “signature tune”.
Both of these drivers promote the use of urban transport, and tramways in
particular, which contributes to lowering congestion and the impact on the
The project will deliver new component designs and maintenance processes
that are aimed at improving the integrity of urban rail transport networks
through the deployment of intelligent design and sensor technologies into
cost effective products and targeted non-intrusive monitoring processes.
In particular, the monitoring systems will combine objective automatic
visual inspection with examination of internal integrity and the
assessment of system and component degradation from a defined datum. It
will also bridge the current gap in standards for the definition and
assessment of the structural integrity of grooved rail.
The innovative developments are directed towards increasing the effective
availability of the track infrastructure, increasing the life of new or
renovated assets, reducing the cost of maintenance by timely intervention
based on objective measurement of degradation and thereby providing a high
quality reliable service to the end user.
The major deliverables from the project are:
- Application of image acquisition and analysis techniques for as much of
the track system and its environment currently inspected by manual means.
- Development of an inspection system for the assessment of internal
integrity of street running grooved rail sections.
- Development of methodologies to measure the deviation of track quality
from identified “signature tune” of the segments.
- Establishing the criteria for assessing the structural integrity of
grooved rail sections embedded in street running sections of tramway
- Development of techniques for the automatic assessment of the
degradation and integrity of track sub-components