It's Happened Again -- Lynchburg Train Carrying Crude Derails Cartasite Patent Could Help Prevent the Next One

DENVER, May 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Early Wednesday afternoon another train carrying tank cars full of crude derailed in Virginia.  It is too early to assess the cause of this latest derailment, but a patent recently awarded to Cartasite could help prevent the next one.

There are two primary causes of train derailments: failure of the track or failure of the railcar wheel bearings. While the rail industry has invested millions of dollars in systems to detect overheating bearings, these systems have proven only marginally effective.  When a bearing begins to fail it can deteriorate quickly and catastrophically.  Left undetected, such failure can cause the wheel to literally fall off resulting in a derailment similar to the one which occurred in Lynchburg.  Cartasite's approach is novel and was recently awarded Patent US8560151 entitled "Dynamic Monitoring of Mobile Railway Car Undercarriage."

Cartasite realized that by placing inexpensive sensors directly on each of the bearings of a railcar and by comparing the operating signatures of the eight wheel bearings, they could dynamically define what was 'normal' for each car.   A simple onboard microprocessor system could then continuously look for any bearings that were deviating significantly from the 'dynamic norm' as established by the population of the eight bearings on the railcar.  Deviations would identify suspect bearings. 

Importantly, the character of the deviation would be diagnostic.  A hand brake that had inadvertently been left engaged might result in two bearings on the same axle deviating from the other six on the railcar.  Railcars have two 'trucks' which hold the two sets of four wheels each.  If all four wheels on a truck deviate from the other four, that likely indicates a truck bearing failure.  Cartasite is unaware of any other system or approach which can characterize such a broad array of railcar failures.

By placing a satellite transmitter and a simple microprocessor on each car, the state of the bearings can be monitored dynamically and alerts transmitted potentially weeks before a mechanical failure becomes catastrophic and a derailment occurs.  Very low costs of the sensors and satellite transmitters make such a system economically attractive.

"We are thrilled that the US Patent Office has now recognized the importance of the novel approach we have taken to address this serious problem for the rail industry," noted David Armitage, CEO of Cartasite.  "As we transport more and more highly volatile crude by rail, it becomes critical that we utilize realtime, onboard monitoring technologies to ensure that each car is operating safely."

Cartasite was formed in 2004 with the goal of delivering practical technology solutions that enhance safety, security and operating efficiency for corporations worldwide.  With deployments in 31 countries, customers rely on Cartasite's realtime monitoring systems to produce results that enhance operating efficiency, save lives and protect the environment.

Media Contact:
Ashley Podoll           303-865-3140           Email

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