Press Release


Intelligent gearbox concept in railway transport

  • At InnoTrans 2016 ZF presented for the first time an intelligent gearbox concept for track-borne transport
  • With this ZF is making a decisive contribution to the reduction of operating costs of the total rail system, to performance optimisation and to increasing general reliability
  • Integrated sensors and the associated data analysis highlight the path ZF is taking to the "Smart Gearbox" of the future

Increased demand and expectation of a permanent data connection, automatic data evaluation and the resulting monitoring systems require new concepts. The ZF vision of an intelligent gearbox covers the optimum use of data regarding the gearbox condition beyond the gearbox limits. ZF recognises the future trend of needs-orientated maintenance and is appropriately increasing its further development of future and current products for the total rail system.

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Intelligent gearbox concept in railway transport

With the intelligent gearbox concept for track-borne transport ZF presents a range of innovative approaches, such as the latest sensors and data analysis tools. In this way the efficiency and reliability of track-borne vehicles and the infrastructure associated with it are increased.

As a pilot project, in 2017 an experimental setup will be installed in a tram. The focus is placed on detecting the condition of the track, the switch stand and components in the train, such as axles and bearings.

The intelligent gearbox concept offers many functions:

"Vibration Monitoring"

With the appropriate data analysis tool the data records produced by the integrated sensors facilitate remote monitoring or analysis of the gearbox functions and condition as well as early detection of potential fault sources. For example, the system monitors and analyses the condition of the bearings, gear teeth and housing.

The system functions are, for example, also supplemented by external information and ambient parameters. Through this data the operator can react individually and flexibly to the most varied situations and ambient influences.

Determination of the oil condition and the temperature behaviour

The installed technology enables the most varied oil parameters to be monitored and specifically linked to the current temperature behaviour of roller bearings and gearbox oil.

The current information from all installed sensors can be relayed via the mobile phone network or various data transfer stations along the route almost in real time, but can also be retrieved in the batch mode. The operating company therefore always has complete transparency with up-to-date data evaluation. It can therefore carry out efficient vehicle checks as well as early detection of failures. Consequently, trouble-free and cost-optimised operation of a fleet of track-borne vehicles is possible with reduced maintenance.

Smart Typeplate – the ID card for the gearbox

Further potential is offered by the ZF Smart Typeplate with which the original type-plate is provided with an integrated chip. The information is stored locally or in a cloud and is available any time. Read-out takes place with existing devices, such as for example, smart phones. The Smart Typeplate facilitates, for example, the monitoring of the operating hours so that each part of the driveline can be documented. The product data can be automatically displayed.


Georg Ehling

Head of Marketing and Business Development

+49 7541 77-2199