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Case Study: Rail Power Switching Application

In North America there are thousands of miles of railroad tracks. Equally, there are a huge number of switching stations that direct trains through and on to different circuits and directions. Technology over the years has enabled track switching to be performed remotely, rather than locally via a manual process, and as such, switching stations were erected to enable the power assisted switching of track, as well as including computerisation for the automation of signalling as well as for reliable communications throughout the network.

As these switching stations become more advanced, they required more power, which was generally supplied and metered by the local utility supplier. Although freight rail gains significant industry investment, passenger rail requires requires government investment, and therefore reducing running costs would reap significant benefits for the network as the monies saved can be reinvested elsewhere. One area of financial savings can be made through the introduction of a renewable energy source, partially replacing the traditional fossil fuel-based energy provided by the local utilities.

We were approached by our customer who was developing a solar-hybrid power system that combines solar generated power with battery storage, and allows technicians to select which source they draw power from: Solar Power; Battery Power; Traditional AC Mains Power Supply.

At the heart of the system is the IMO range of multi-purpose industrial contactors, providing reliable switching of the multiple power sources. The coil consumption of these contactors contributes to the power savings with a draw of only 3W when sealed. The MCR contactors are then switched by IMO’s industrial-duty panel mounted 3-position cam switch. The solid tactile response of the cam switch, along with three IMO high-visibility LED pilot lights which provide feedback to the operator to indicate what power source is being utilised.

The solution has enabled the reduction in use of the locally provided meterised utility power supply, thereby providing cost savings from the onset, as well as maintaining rail services through servicing periods, as the power can be switched to whichever power supply is desired when one of the others has an interrupted service. The high quality contactor, cam switch and LED pilot lights ensures many years of repeatability and reliable operation.

"We have been very impressed with IMO’s product and customer service. Their consultative approach has allowed us to test their components in a pre-production concept to ensure to meets our demands, and as a result we have now created a robust and reliable solution for energy savings in the rail transportation vertical."
OEM Manufacturer

3 years ago

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