Automating train brake testing

Brake test system, developers and managers from Faiveley and DVel

Faiveley Transport Nordic (FTN), part of Wabtec Corporation, is a system provider to the international rail industry. The company has a more than 100 year history in Landskrona and their activities are focused on train brakes and brake regulators. FTN set out to design the next generation of automated test rigs for brake testing and asked DVel to develop and implement the associated software.

The challenge

FTN handles a wide variety of brake models. Testing is centered around a number of standard tests that for each brake model should be executed in a given sequence with a specific set of target values for forces, pressures, reaction times etc. The test software would need to have a flexible mechanism for test sequence definition, easily modifiable as new models would emerge. Customizable reports, system real-time monitoring and database connections were other essentials at the same time as robustness and reliability were high on the wish list to ensure system up time.

TestStand at the core

DVel chose to build a solution around TestStand from National Instruments, using TestStand as the test execution engine and an outer LabVIEW shell as the means for easy configuration of report formats, user interface, database interactions etc. as well as for data acquisition and control.

TestStand is a standardized product, pre-packed with functionality, giving DVel’s certified TestStand Developer a quick and efficient path to test sequence implementation while also giving FTN the tools to further modify and implement test sequences by themselves in the future.
Using LabVIEW code to build the overall shell meant that the software could be fully configured according to the needs and wishes of FTN.

Test rig user interface and electrical cabinet
Electrical cabinet and computer with test system user interface.

Flexible and agile collaboration

Test rig hardware development was handled by FTN while DVel developed the software and a third party provided the database solution. DVel had engineers on site throughout the project to facilitate a close cooperation, providing valuable inputs to the hardware development team and adjusting swiftly to requirement updates. DVel had a firm ambition throughout the project to be a flexible and agile partner.

”This project has been a truly joint venture between Faiveley and DVel. The close collaboration and team working spirit has meant that we were able to tackle all obstacles swiftly, avoid delays and improve the end result. The DVel team are not only highly skilled software engineers, but also very knowledgeable in automation, electronics and mechanics, which has made them the perfect partner for this endeavour.”

Per Renmark, Operations Director, Faiveley Transport Nordic

Train brake placed in test rig, ready to start test sequence.

Fast and reliable: a recipe for success

FTN and DVel managed in collaboration to produce a finalized test rig within the project timeline and with all the specifications in place. The test rig has also, when compared with older setups,

  • cut total testing time
  • improved first time pass quality
  • improved uptime
  • reduced the risk of operator errors, and
  • reduced the operator work effort.

The outcome was so successful that FTN are now producing four more copies of the same test rig and are considering adopting the DVel software as a platform also for several other test systems.

Test rig pneumatic cabinet
Test rig pneumatic cabinet.

 

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