GE Transportation Trip Optimizer for rail applications determines optimal speed
GE Transportation has developed a technology, under the ecomagination umbrella, designed to reduce fuel consumption in locomotives by calculating the optimal locomotive speed. GE’s Trip Optimizer was found to save 12.5 million liters of fuel (a 7% average savings) in the first 8 million kilometers of track run using it.
The Trip Optimizer functions like an intelligent version of a car’s cruise control, said GE. It calculates the optimal speed profile for a trip based on the specific train’s makeup and route, and then automatically controls the throttle to maintain that planned speed to save fuel. The software integrates into the locomotive’s control system and monitors performance while utilizing GPS tracking to evaluate routes, and plots optimal train velocity on the operator’s display. The locomotive operaequations, tor sets the parameters for trip time and velocity.
It was designed to operate in either automatic control or advisement mode. Automatic control maintains the planned speed automatically, while advisement mode informs the operator which throttle and dynamic braking levels to use to optimize fuel efficiency and speed, said GE. In auto control, a real-time closedloop control system continually adjusts throttle application based on data fed back to the controls from the train. Speed and acceleration data are fed into the operating system, processed and commands are sent to the engine to automatically govern the throttle.
The system comprises a wireless system, onboard planner, closed-loop control and operator interface. Using energy and momentum operaequations, the system uses train weight, length, power output, track profile for grade and curve information received over a wireless connection this is all automatic so the engineer doesn’t have to manually enter it. The onboard planner then takes the information and calculates the optimal velocity for fuel savings, said GE.
Once under way and in automatic mode, the system is designed to continuously monitor the planned velocity and actual velocity and uses the closed-loop control logic to keep the train’s speed on course. The system also monitors actual power consumed against the plan, and if there is a noticeable difference the system will automatically set a new plan for optimal fuel consumption and speed. Factors that may induce differences include errors in weight or length data, locomotive power derate, wind and others, said GE.
The Trip Optimizer is fully integrated into the locomotive. The control software is updated to include the system’s functionality, a configuration developed for a seamless flow of locomotive data to operate the unit while minimizing lag time for the commanded control requests, explained GE. It is also configured with the factory displays so the verification of train data, the rolling map and situation awareness information for the auto control can be accessed on one of two built-in displays.
The Trip Optimizer can be installed either as an OEM factory installation, such as with GE Evolution locomotives, or as an aftermarket system. Pierre Comte, president GE Transportation Intelligent Control Systems said, “Trip Optimizer generates fuel savings ranging from 3 to 15% per locomotive depending on territory as measured by North American train operators. It is a significant element in the future of fuel conservation with the added benefit of reducing emissions for railroads around the world.”