To coincide with InnoTrans 2018, Schaeffler and ZF signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate between the two companies to create a digital condition monitoring system for mechanical drive trains in the rail sector.

The combination of both companies’ expertise will allow a Rail 4.0 solution with significant added-value to be created in which the mechanical drive, which is maintained as an independent unit, can be digitally monitored separately right down to its sub-systems and components using a single condition monitoring system. The objective is to allow condition-based maintenance measures to be carried out with the aid of operating data analyses and therefore extend maintenance intervals while reducing downtimes.

“Digitalisation in industry can only generate added-value when collaboration takes place across different companies,” explains Dr. Stefan Spindler, CEO Industrial at Schaeffler AG. “This project represents the expansion of our long-term development partnership with ZF into the rail sector with an Industry 4.0 solution that will make entirely new service concepts possible.”

Dr. Klaus Geißdörfer, head of ZF’s Industrial Technology division, is certain that the market now demands comprehensive and state-of-the-art digital platforms: “The online condition monitoring approach that we are now presenting in cooperation with Schaeffler will help customers to better plan maintenance intervals and continuously optimise the actual loads that occur in the drive train.”

Both cooperation partners began taking advantage of the future opportunities offered by Industry 4.0 at an early stage. ZF supplies rail drive systems complete with condition monitoring systems, and Schaeffler enhances these through the addition of wheelset-specific sensors for vibration and temperature according to SIL 2 together with the corresponding data analytics.

The condition monitoring system is to be created using an open platform concept that can be expanded to include additional partners, thus enabling further components and even complete bogies to be monitored.