SAGE Automation wins 2014 PACE Transport and Energy Management Award

PACE Zenith Awards 2014: Transport & Energy Management

WINNER: SAGE Automation
Project: Inline Fuel Delivery System

To ensure sufficient fuel for long distance travel by its fleet of locomotives, Pacific National required a manned re-fuel station in a remote Nullabor location.

This was a costly set up due to three factors – manning the station, additional fuel usage to stop and restart the locomotives and high fuel costs per litre.

To alleviate this, a fuel tank car and fuel delivery system was put into place, but Pacific National found the system was not functional, regularly failed, was not designed for the rugged environment, and did not interface with the locomotives systems properly.

This resulted in the locomotive drivers needing to stop and pump fuel manually (at times the system did not work manually and they would have a lengthy wait for assistance). The business was experiencing high operational costs, delays and down time as well as operator/driver frustration.

In partnership with Pacific National, SAGE Automation developed a detailed user requirements specification (URS), ensuring an in depth understanding of exactly what the system needed to do and all expectations are understood and met.

A strict 6-month time frame was associated with the project to ensure the solution was in place in time for the delivery of new locomotives that required the system to haul to Perth.

The use of a fieldbus network allows minimal wiring, high level of information communication, multiple operating screens and multiple skid operation.

One of the project challenges was to ensure the system stood up to the extreme environmental conditions it would be subject to.

PACE Awards

A 6-month time frame ensured the solution was in place in time for the delivery of new locomotives.

SAGE worked with Pacific National's ride quality analysis engineers to determine the exact vibration and shock forces that the unit would be exposed to and undertook testing with operational hardware to confirm suitability.

SAGE also reverse engineered the existing communications from locomotives on-board fuel level detection and request system to ensure its system communicated reliably and safely.

Suitability to harsh environment:
· able to operate at temperatures ranging from -20 to +75 degrees
· able to tolerate 8-32 volt fluctuation
· meets rail approved high vibration ratings
· meets ingress protection (IP67) standards
· complies with rail standards in relation to cabling and power supply

User friendly:
· user-friendly operator interface featuring alarms which descript what the fault is and provides a picture of the specific equipment failure point
· plug and play feature – easily removed, replaced for cost effective installation, upgrades etc
· USB friendly – operators can download fuel usage data and email to head office as well as have a program update or change emailed to them for updating the system PLC.
· level displays, accurately show fuel levels remaining
· auto sequencing features remove the need for operators to need to push multiple buttons and undertake a complex process to operate the system, reducing the training required. The one button 'fill-tanker' is simplified and efficient to operate.

Data collection:
The system now contains a number of business friendly features including
· logs maintenance data automatically for maintenance scheduling
· includes a modem with GPS which allows data output to a smart phone or web portal
· modem feature enables remote fault finding to reduce downtime
· system was designed with bio-directional flow meters to capture ingoing and outgoing flow data for billing purposes and cost monitoring. This cost effective feature removed a flow meter and improves accurate measurements to be obtained

Safety features:
The safety considerations of transporting large volumes of fuel at high speed are critical and include
· pressure test feature checks for leaks – system will not pump fuel if leaks are detected
· tilt switch and roll over detection – system will not pump fuel if detected
· train and brake integrity features ensure all carriages are secure and connected before pumping fuel
· overfill detection prevents spillage and wastage
· monitored safety E-stops ensure that if any faults are present in the emergency stop feature, the fuel will not pump
· dual screens, one on each side of the truck ensure the operator does not have to climb to the other side of the locomotive to operate it. When linked, these screen can be used as a duel skid in a master/ slave relationship to link multiple tanks, providing an expandable system to accommodate multiple tanks. The communication features are also suited for additional capacity and is critical in ensuring multiple tanks drain consistently to maintain the balance of wagons.
· battery back-up feature ensures that if the fuel tank carriage is every pulled away, they system will remain operational for around 30 hours. The battery backup feature also auto-detects if it is not being used and self isolates to save power.

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