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Reliability is Climbing, Costs are Falling: ZF’s Digital Condition Monitoring System Opens up New Opportunities for Transport Operators

  • Digitalization solution simplifies maintenance planning, prepares trains for comprehensive condition monitoring
  • ZF uses a cloud-to-cloud solution to monitor the most important components of the driveline and infrastructure online
  • After successful pilot tests, the Smart Typeplate from ZF will go into volume production starting in the first quarter of 2019

Friedrichshafen/Birmingham. After successful testing in pilot projects and applications, ZF’s Smart Typeplate has demonstrated how commuter rail services can benefit from condition monitoring. The intelligent typeplate functions as a digital information carrier to simplify maintenance planning for rail vehicles and prepares them for comprehensive condition monitoring. This makes rail traffic safer, more reliable and more efficient.

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Reliability is Climbing, Costs are Falling: ZF’s Digital Condition Monitoring System Opens up New Opportunities for Transport Operators

Predictive maintenance planning shortens or prevents shutdown and outage times for rail vehicles. It benefits public transit operators by lowering their operating costs and improving reliability for passengers. With its new digitalization solution, the Smart Typeplate, ZF is also simplifying efficient fleet management. This innovative product consists of a chip that ZF has integrated into the typeplate of a transmission. The chip contains the name, material and identification number as well as the technical details. It also records the actual operating hours. This information is stored either locally or decentrally in a cloud. The operator can view this information when the rail vehicle drives into the maintenance depot and record repairs recently carried out. This makes it easier to see which trains actually require maintenance. ZF has been testing the intelligent typeplate in cooperation with the Freiburger Verkehrs AG since September 2017. Considered a success, the Smart Typeplate is now scheduled to go into volume production starting in the first quarter of 2019.

A view of everything: The “connect@rail” condition monitoring system

The Smart Typeplate is just one innovative solution that ZF has developed as part of its overall goal of comprehensive condition monitoring for rail vehicles and infrastructure. The intelligent condition monitoring system connect@rail demonstrates how integrated sensors and advanced data analysis tools can further improve efficiency, reliability and safety in rail transport. Various sensors record vibrations, oil quality and temperature behavior in transmissions. On top of that, one sensor attached to the unsprung axle drive or bogie measures amplitudes and bumps in the track system. This enables operators to monitor the status of the tracks and to identify potential hazardous spots early on. These system functions are also supplemented by external information and certain environmental parameters.

A platform developed by ZF then reliably transfers the collected data and information to the ZF Cloud. Operators can view the analysis and recommended courses of action based on the above data from the ZF Cloud using a computer or mobile device. Also, they can optimally schedule maintenance dates and respond to the most diverse situations individually and flexibly. This guarantees that the entire fleet is operating smoothly and as cost-efficiently as possible.

New type of cooperation

The new transmission functions and services are based on a digital platform that is open to many users. A standardized interface and the encrypted data traffic via VPN or Internet enable open “cloud-to-cloud” solutions. ZF can also assess the status of the axle bearings and thus monitor all important components in the driveline. This simplifies not only the monitoring of the entire rail system, but also the opportunity to work together with partners.


Svenja Mayer

Head of Marketing and Communications, Marine & Special Driveline

+49 7541 77-2418

Gernot Hein

Industrial Technology and Marine Communications

+49 851 494-2480