Alstom, who are producing new Eurostar trains, have improved the accuracy and efficiency of their safety checks with a Microlink 3000 system. This tests everything from brakes to air conditioners.
In one brake test the Microlink measures the time taken for the maximum braking pressure to be reached. Previously measurements were made with a stop watch. Now the engineer uses a Microlink 3000 connected to a computer running Streamer (data capture) and FAMOS (data analysis) software. He can display a graph of, say, brake pipe pressure, air supply pressure and brake cylinder pressure against time; so the curve of the brake cylinders getting to full pressure can be seen. The rise time of the brake cylinder curve is automatically compared with pre-set specifications, and if there's a match then the brakes have passed that test.
At the end of the tests the graphs are printed out and provide a permanent record of the procedures and results. These are kept for 10 years in fire-proof cabinets.
A senior test engineer on the project commented:
Air conditioners in the restaurant cars of new trains are monitored, ensuring correct temperatures are maintained. Alstom are now using a Microlink 3000 with Windows software.
In one test, resistance thermometers are positioned around the cars and units are set to warn if the temperatures exceed the specification. The engineer can leave the Microlink logging for 8 hours (or more), releasing him for other test functions. He can then check what happened during the day, scrolling back through the history. All the readings from all parts of the car are simultaneous and accurate.
The personal computer used in the system, together with the
Microlink hardware, is housed in a console. This picture shows
the engineer standing at the console watching the test results.