Energymiser - Freight Train In-cab Advice Systems
Fuel costs and CO2 emissions are a major concern for all transport operators, and as fuel cost represents one of the largest cost for rail freight operators the industry constantly looks to improve their efficiency to improve its competiveness.
Energymiser is an Australian produced real-time Driver Advisory System (DAS). The system has helped operators increase the efficiency of their fuel consumption by providing on-screen suggestions to train drivers. Throughout the world for example the system has resulted in fuel savings of around 8.9% for iron ore trains in Africa (up to 2.5km long and 17,000 tonnes), 10% or more for freight trains in Australia, UK and India, 14% for coal trains and over 20% for high speed passenger trains in UK.
Taking Australian freight train results, a 10% fuel reduction in fuel consumption for 20 vehicles aided by Energymiser delivers in average $2million in annual savings to an Australian rail operator.
Energymiser as an in-cab advice system helps drivers of long-haul trains save fuel and stay on time. It uses optimal control theory to determine speed profiles that minimise fuel consumption subject to completing the journey within a specified time.
The Energymiser screen is divided into three areas 1) Route information 2) Ideal Speed Profile and 3) Destination. The system can be mounted in the cab, can be integrated into the hardware or just simply left as software. It can also be downloaded onto an Ipad or iPhone. The screen displays the recommended speed profile and takes into consideration track topography, train location and rail path in calculating the optimum speed profile to maximise efficiency. It can also take into consideration infrastructure availability issues such as Temporary Speed Restrictions (TSR’s), possession, curfews and infrastructure outages etc.
The aim of Energymiser is not to show drivers how to drive, but to provide them with information that will help them drive more efficiently. The length and weight of long haul trains means that even small variations in breaking and acceleration can significantly impact fuel consumption and wear and tear. Energymiser takes all these variables into consideration in producing a set of recommendations to maximise efficiency.
The optimisation software is used to compute the speed profiles for six different total journey times. Each profile is designed to minimise fuel consumption for the given journey time. As the time allowed for journey decreases the minimum possible fuel consumption increases providing drivers with the best possible strategy to reduce fuel consumption.
Energymiser is the brainchild of the University of South Australia’s Signalling and Controlling group and TTG Transportation Technology. The University of South Australia developed the optimal control algorithms, the result of over a decade of mathematical research at the university. The University and TTG’s collaboration on the project started in 1998 and by 2003 the first Energymiser trials were conducted on freight trains running on a 72km section of undulating track between Goulburn and Moss Vale in New South Wales. These trials had a mean saving of 15% with no significant difference on journey times.
The system has proven itself a great success following successful field trials undertaken by many rail organisations operating in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Today Energymiser is operating on more than 1,000 passenger and freight trains in Australia and the UK alone with many more overseas in trial or already in production. The product has secured requests from customers for further installations of over 2,000 units.
Examples of its successful implementation within Australia include their work with Pacific National. Pacific National started to pay more attention to their fuel consumption in 2009 and realised that engaging its workforce of train drivers and developing “best practise” techniques could result in significant reduction of overall fuel consumption, and therefore greenhouse gas emissions.
Discovering the considerable variations in journey times and fuel consumption each month, Pacific National invested in the Energymiser system to help their drivers stay on time and minimise fuel consumption after noticing the savings that can be achieved when providing in cab support to their drivers in how to reach their destination in the most efficient way.
The use of Energymiser has proven successful too in India since Indian Railways commenced trials with the system in 2008. TTG Transportation Technology’s Managing Director Dale Coleman noting the potentials savings from the US$2 billion a year fuel bill India pays for freight and passenger rail, which may explain its popularity and rate of uptake throughout India, as well as Australia and the UK.