Smart Trams in Tampere Case study: Diagnostic system for smart trams
In 2016, the City of Tampere decided to build a tramway system. The city ordered 19 modern ForCity Smart Artic trams from Transtech Oy (part of Škoda Group). The contract also includes a three-stage option for the delivery of a maximum of 46 additional trams. ForCity Smart Artic will have a 1,435 mm track gauge. The three-section tram will be bi-directional and able to accommodate a total of 264 passengers. Operation in the demanding climate conditions is ensured with a durable bogie and wheelset structure.
Partnering with TK Engineering for a new kind of diagnostic system
For its tram servicing operations, Transtech required a totally new kind of diagnostic system that produces IoT data and that could be used to improve the efficiency of its servicing business. Previous systems had several separate devices collecting historical data in separate databases, but collating data from these was laborious and the end result created uncertainty in further processing. In addition, the definition of data to be collated was fixed. A stronger and more agile method was required for adapting and processing diagnostic data.
Although diagnostic systems are widely used in various industries, tramway traffic is a different kind of environment that uses automation systems based on programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
For developing the diagnostic system Transtech selected TK Engineering, with whom they had carried out troubleshooting for the current systems, for example, during the Helsinki tramway project in 2016. Transtech wanted a partner who is able to present suggestions for solutions and new ways of thinking on their own initiative. TK Engineering impressed Transtech both with their know-how and wide-ranging practical experience. There are several top experts at TK Engineering with the ability to research and understand the controller area network (CAN) and Ethernet environment and their deeper signal data both on a theoretical and practical level.
Smart trams Diagnostic data travels along the Ethernet
The new diagnostic system developed by TK Engineering utilises the Ethernet for transferring diagnostic data. The system has been programmed using the Python language, which allows it to be transferred to different hardwares with very small changes. The descriptions of the collated data have been separated into a parameter file of their own, which ensures easy changes to the scope of the collated data. Thanks to the modular solution, all the various signals and events can be collated in a coherent form and stored in the database. Regardless of the platform, the system utilises the Linux operating system. The software can be easily transferred from one place to another when needed. Because of the separate diagnostic system, the current solution operating via the Ethernet does not interfere with the tram steering system.
Analyses and results
Tests will be started in the autumn of 2019 when signal data will be collected from the suppliers’ devices for the SmartLab environment. Data will be collected for a period of a year, after which more detailed analyses and conclusions on the functionality and results of the system can be made.