Products for Rail Vehicles
System graphic Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring System from ZF System graphic Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring System from ZF
Railconnect@railInfrastructure and Driveline Monitoring

Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring

Digital condition monitoring system enables predictive maintenance planning for rail vehicles and infrastructure

The Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring system

The condition monitoring solution enables digital condition monitoring of the rail infrastructure and driveline components.

Therefore, sensors are mounted on the bogie of the rail vehicles to record accelerations, vibrations and anomalies in wheel-rail contact during operation. The data is then analyzed and visualized in the cloud. With the help of these daily measurement data, rail operators can plan the maintenance cycles based on actual conditions, increase efficiency in rail transportation, and avoid unplanned downtimes.


What functions does the Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring System offer?

Modularity for maximum customer value

With the Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring, we offer a turnkey solution consisting of hardware, software, and the associated platforms. The system is developed for independent and maintenance-free operation and uses its digital potential effectively: Thanks to the connection to the ZF cloud, data can be recorded, transmitted, and evaluated on a permanent basis.

Customers benefit especially from the modularity offered by the system: The condition monitoring solution can be individually extended by evaluations and monitoring functions. The system can be widely installed in a significant range of rail vehicles, in short and long-distance traffic. Since existing vehicles can also be retrofitted with the required ZF components, every single train used for normal line service could also take over a monitoring function.

Wheel monitoring

Traveling by train is in trend, as this summer has shown. However, if more people are to switch to rail travel in the long run, trains must above all be reliable and safe. Essential in that regard is that transport associations are able to intelligently plan the maintenance work on vehicles. The fact that train wheels wear out over time is a normal consequence of their use. However, things get complicated if the wear is more advanced. This can result in rough running, flat spots, microcracks or, at worst, shelling of the wheel. With connect@rail, the wheel tires can be monitored and damage detected at an early stage.

Key visual connect@rail wheel monitoring

Main characteristics of the ZF system for the detection of flat spots and wheel-tread wear

  • Determination of damage to wheel tires using acceleration data
  • Automated notification in case of detected damage
  • Simple and fast implementation by the use of Bluetooth® wireless sensors (Heavy Duty TAGs)
  • Storage and analysis of the measured acceleration data in the ZF IoT Cloud
  • Data transfer via cloud-to-cloud communication possible
  • Overview of the current fleet and component status via dashboard
What is meant by wheel-tread wear and what impact does it have on ongoing operations?

The fact that train wheels wear out over time is a normal consequence of their use. However, things get complicated if the wear is more advanced. This can result in rough running, flat spots, microcracks or, at worst, shelling of the wheel. Even in the case of minor defects, vibrations occur, causing disturbing noises in the passenger compartments. If defects are not detected and rectified early enough, there is a risk that the vehicle's bogie will suffer damage eventually. In the worst-case scenario, not only would the train break down, but traffic on the route could also be severely congested because, for safety reasons, the vehicles may only return to the depot at a reduced speed – or, under certain circumstances, it even has to be hauled.

Damage pattern for wheel-tread wear
How do flat spots occur and how do they affect operations?

Flat spots occur through uneven wear on the steel tires of the vehicles. As a result, the wheel no longer rolls gently over the rail, but slides or slips on the track. As a first consequence, you can usually hear and feel blows and rumbling while the train is in motion. In case of increased wear, further damage to the wheel and rail is possible. Flat spots are a possible reason for noise pollution for passengers and residents.

Damage pattern of a flat spot

Typical flat spot damage pattern

How can damage to wheel tires be determined?

Until now, the solutions for monitoring train wheels haven't been keeping up with the possibilities. Trains were often declared inefficient for the sake of formality and sent to the depot based on their mileage. Or things did not go beyond the mere visual inspection, which naturally could not reveal damage below the wheel surface. For connect@rail, however, ZF makes use of digitalization as well as its technology expertise in telematics and data analysis. The condition monitoring system is designed to detect wheel-tread wear at an early stage – before serious damage occurs. Rail operators obtain daily analysis results, which support condition-based maintenance cycle planning, increasing the vehicle availability and efficiency in operation. Both passengers and residents benefit from increased Reliability and safety of rail vehicles and reduced noise nuisance.

Infrastructure monitoring

Weather fluctuations, peak utilization, and everyday wear: The rail network is under a lot of pressure, which is why it nowadays is highly important to monitor the condition of the tracks precisely and effectively. The digital monitoring system from ZF aims to identify potential damage at an early stage. Existing vehicles can also be easily retrofitted with the required ZF components. Thus, every single train used for line service could also take over a monitoring function.

Whenever we talk about rail infrastructure, we also have to consider the overhead lines. They get the train on its way. Together with partners, ZF is working on a solution for digital condition monitoring of contact lines and pantographs.

Key visual connect@rail infrastructure monitoring

Main characteristics of the ZF system for the infrastructure monitoring

  • Continuous monitoring of the rail track on damage or changes by recording statistical acceleration data
  • Exact localization via GPS
  • Measuring equipment in regular vehicles
    • No special, expensive measuring vehicle required
  • Simple and fast implementation and retrofitting of existing vehicles by the use of Bluetooth® wireless sensors (Heavy Duty TAGs)
  • Storage and analysis of the measured acceleration data in the ZF Cloud
  • Data transfer via cloud-to-cloud communication possible
  • Monitoring (heatmap) of the current status and changes of the tracks over time via the dashboard

Monitoring of driveline components

The connect@rail platform can also be used to monitor driveline components, such as for recording vibrations, oil quality and temperature behavior in transmissions. A standardized interface and the encrypted data traffic via VPN or Internet enable open “cloud-to-cloud” solutions. In this way, ZF can also evaluate the condition of other driveline components, such as the axle bearings.

Key visual connect@rail driveline components monitoring

Main characteristics of the ZF system for the condition monitoring of driveline components

  • Intelligent condition monitoring of driveline, chassis and bogie components (i.e. gearbox, dampers)
  • Standardized interfaces facilitate cloud-to-cloud solutions with other manufacturers (i.e. bearings, brakes)
  • Gearbox:
    • Intelligent vibration monitoring of gears and bearings
    • Dynamic oil condition and temperature monitoring
  • Chassis and bogie components:
    • Intelligent level monitoring
    • Function monitoring using pressure sensors
    • Temperature range from -30°C to +100°C

Scope of system

What do I need for the entire system?

Scope of the Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring system

The wireless sensor Heavy Duty TAG forms the basis for the condition monitoring of vehicle components and the rail infrastructure. The HD TAG can be mounted either on the transmission or the bogie. The recorded data is transmitted via Bluetooth® Low Energy to a Secure Gateway, the VCU Pro Onboard Unit. The gateway triggers measurements and collects the data from the wireless Bluetooth sensors. Then, the collected measurement and rail track data is processed and securely transferred to the ZF IoT Cloud.

Chart Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring

Heavy Duty TAG

Battery-operated sensor for detecting vibrations and the position

VCU Pro Onboard Unit

Gateway for data bundling, pre-evaluation and transfer.

ZF IoT Cloud

Data storage and processing in the ZF IoT Cloud

connect@rail Dashboard

Platform for a comprehensive monitoring

Eco System

Partnerships with an Eco System

With connect@rail, the condition monitoring system for driveline components and track infrastructure, ZF supports smooth operation in the rail network. In order to tailor the digital platform to customer requirements, ZF systematically and strategically expands partnerships with manufacturers, transport associations and other technology companies – for safe and reliable rail mobility.

ZF is currently cooperating with Schaeffler and DB Systemtechnik. A Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation with Schunk has been signed.

You can read more about the cooperations with Schaeffler and DB Systemtechnik here.

Read the press release on the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Schunk here.

Key Visual connect@rail eco system


Why choose ZF Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring?

The digital solution for condition monitoring offers the following benefits for transport services and passenger

Transport services Passenger
Condition monitoring at any time and from anywhere Prevention of noise pollution
Increased efficiency in operation Reduction of noise emissions
Predictive and condition-based maintenance planning Prevention of comfort restrictions
Reduction and avoidance of downtime Increased reliability of rail vehicles
Increased customer satisfaction Increased vehicle availability

Customer references

Graz Linien

ZF and Graz Linien are partnering in the development of a digital system for condition monitoring since 2018. Today, a large part of the Graz Linien fleet is equipped with ZF’s Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring system.

First application: Flat Spot Monitoring. This is a main reason for noise nuisance of residents and passengers. The ZF solution detects flat spots at an early stage, thus reducing consequential damage, as well as stress and comfort restrictions for people and environment.

The largest mobility provider in the south of Austria is happy:

“With the digital monitoring system from ZF, we have been able to further increase the reliability and, above all, the safety of rail traffic."
Mark Perz, Board Director of Mobility and Leisure, Holding Graz

The hit rate is
100 %
Since the commissioning in Graz, no flat spot has been missed by the ZF system.
Please click on "Accept all" in the settings to play the Youtube video.

DB Regio Baden-Württemberg

DB Regio currently uses connect@rail in southern Germany. There, the system has been installed in 15 trains from the VT650 model range that runs on different regional routes.

At DB Regio, connect@rail is used to monitor wheel-tread wear. Thanks to the early detection of potential sources of malfunction, such as rough running, flat spots, microcracks or, at worst, shelling of the wheel, necessary maintenance work can therefore be planned in a predictive manner.

Reference image DB Regio
"The cooperation with ZF has shown how much the rail industry benefits from comprehensive networking – through increased safety and reliability in passenger and freight transport."
Bernd Schlesier, Deputy Rail Operations Manager and Head of Vehicle Management for the Baden-Württemberg region, DB Regio


Your key to digital condition monitoring

The Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring can be easily retrofitted to existing vehicles. Contact us now to get more information about the solution.