In order to avoid safety risks and identify possible sources of danger in good time, railway bridges are equipped with condition monitoring systems. The sensors used in such systems must often be attached at great distances from each other. In order to minimize the tremendous expense of installing the necessary cables, the sensors can communicate wirelessly. However, this technology has not been used to date because  radio communication is often heavily disrupted in the area around the railway, such as by passing locomotives.

Nevertheless, to take advantage of the benefits of wireless communications and avoid the associated difficulties, the RAdCoM project is developing a diagnosis system that utilizes hybrid communication methods. On one hand, this should minimize the costs for cabling. On the other, it should enable a modularly designed monitoring system that can be more easily adapted to structural conditions than previous systems.

Solution approach

The three project partners are working on a functional prototype of a universally applicable system that uses various sensors for monitoring structures, either continuously or at regular intervals. These sensors should transmit their data partially via wire but primarily wirelessly. The diagnosis system must operate very robustly and reliably. For this purpose, it is based on a networking strategy that allows the system to adapt itself to existing conditions, largely independently.

Fraunhofer IIS/EAS is working primarily on the design and implementation of a suitable networking strategy. The institute is also implementing the hybrid data transmission and researching algorithms for self-diagnosis. This involves developing evaluation software that is either distributed among the sensor nodes or situated within a central unit.

RAdCoM is being supported as part of the “KMU innovativ” (Innovative SME) program of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.