20 Years of IRT - Instrumented Revenue Vehicles

The Monash Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) is celebrating 20 years at Monash University. Throughout 2020, we’ll be taking a look at some of the fundamental changes IRT helped to bring to the railway industry.

The first of these is the Instrumented Revenue Vehicle (IRV), also known as Instrumented Ore Car (IOC) and Instrumented Coal Wagon (ICW) programme, which began in 2002 and is still delivering and expanding to new areas today. It is an intelligent automated condition monitoring tool, retrofitted to standard rollingstock and integrated into normal railway operations. The system was developed for the heavy haul freight networks and now has been expanded to passenger applications.

IRT Instrumented Revenue Vehicle

IRVs automatically collect dynamic vehicle performance data and identifies high risk track related defects, and the precise locations of the defects, capable of sending remote data that can be analysed in real time. This information is used for condition monitoring and targeted economical track maintenance planning, identifying maintenance effectiveness as well as assessing rollingstock performance.

IRV Capabilities

The IRV fleet is fully autonomous and designed around the customers’ specific operational requirements. They provide an excellent tool for monitoring track condition and planning track maintenance through:

  • Detection of a wide variety of track geometry or discrete faults, such as dipped welds
  • Prediction of track maintenance and assessment of effectiveness afterwards
  • Dashboard outputs for real-time updates accessible anywhere
  • Severity 1 defect reporting for application of speed restrictions

IOC Speed and Severity Dashboard

In addition to informing track decisions, the following applications have also been proven by IRT to benefit existing railway operations:

  • In-train force monitoring to develop improved driving strategies and tuning of indexing cycles during car dumping
  • Wagon structural assessment and monitoring for design confirmation
  • Dynamic monitoring to ensure adequate stability according to regulatory standards
  • Component strain gauging to improve understanding of behaviour and duty cycles
  • Bearing and wheel temperature modelling to calibrate hot monitoring wayside sites

IRV Technology

The IRV technology utilises existing rollingstock which remains in normal revenue service, at full capacity, and provided a platform for a wide range of instrumentation and data collection.

The key advantages of an IRV, as opposed to traditional track recording equipment, is that it:

  • Measures performance of the actual revenue rollingstock, both in loaded and unloaded conditions
  • Runs much more frequently, and provides up to date information on track condition and vehicle performance
  • Provided an output level of performance in terms of vehicle dynamics. This makes it invaluable in finding cyclic or combinational sub-critical defects affecting vehicle performance including susceptibility to catastrophic incidents including derailments

Passenger Train

IRV Recognition

The IOC methodology and results have been presented at a wide variety of international conferences including RTSA’s Conference of Railway Excellence (CORE), IHHA’s International Heavy Haul Conference, the International Heavy Haul Association and it’s International Heavy Haul Conference and the IEEE conference.

Monash Institute of Railway Technology received the prestigious Best Research & Development Collaboration award at the Business/Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Awards in 2015 for the IRV technology for improving the efficiency and safety of heavy rail operations and thereby saving Australian businesses tens of millions of dollars.