Fuel Flow Measurement
Railway companies look for effective opportunities for reducing energy costs. One of the biggest costs in the railway industry is fuel. Fuel consumption and efficiency are generally not monitored in diesel engines and the locomotive’s performance has to be measured from the manufacturer’s test figures and often never checked again. Increasing fuel prices, possible unnoticed thefts from the fuel tanks, and stricter environmental requirements forcing train operators to take this problem more seriously. For many companies, the result of success is managing fuel emissions. It is either the passenger trains or cargo – there has to be a system which could measure the amount of fuel used at a certain point in time.
What is the situation of Lithuania?
Fuel consumption dominates operating costs. For example, the annual fuel costs of Lithuanian Railways make up as much as 20%, so measuring fuel would save a lot of money. Lithuanian Railways has 100+ locomotive fleet and most of them have the huge fuel tanks (around 7000 liters, depending on the model) which complicates the measurement process. The current method is done manually each time by simply measuring the fuel leftovers at the end of the journey. This old-fashioned method of measuring the fuel level highlight another pain point – recording and keeping the data. Fuel information is recorded on the piece of paper, then it goes to the general journal with other fuel tank data. Someone has to retype all the information manually at the end of the month (the calculations of each journey fuel amount and fuel leftovers at the end of each journey). However, relying only on the initial data provided by the manufacturers and the knowledge of train drivers is not the most innovative way.
Current situation limitations
- Static and difficult access to the locomotive engine and fuel tank can cost a lot of money and time;
- Sludge can accumulate in diesel fuel and sediment can occur, which can clog the sensors;
- Locomotive’s performance is assessed from the manufacturer’s engine test figures and seldom checked again;
- The fuel flow rate is high when the train is running, so devices are needed to not quickly wear out when measuring the flow rate.
- Pilot tests on fuel flow measurement are very costly, as it is often necessary to cut out the tank before installing the gauges;
- Decommissioning the fleet is also expensive.
The installed sensors shall allow automatically measure the amount of fuel and provide the data directly to the train driver to see the fuel consumption in real-time so that he no longer has to interpret costs and emissions.
Sensors shall be simple and quick to install so that trains are not taken out of service for long periods. Also, the sensors should be long-lasting, adapted to harsh and particularly unstable railroad environments.
The sensors should already be adapted in another market with the old locomotives, such as those operating in Lithuania (experience would be an advantage). Also, monitoring sensors are required to comply with emission standards and be resistant to vibration and possible sediment from fuel.
Sensors shall allow data to be captured directly to the data storage platform so that there would be no need to write everything down by hand.