Power supplies for railway applications: On the rails to 2020: Page 5 of 5

March 12, 2018 //By Patrick Le Fèvre
Power supplies for railway applications: On the rails to 2020
In a study presented at the international rail exhibition, Innotrans 2016 in Berlin, the European Rail Industry summarized the state of the business as representing a market size estimated to reach 185 billion Euro by 2020. For sure, the power supplies share of that amount is marginal compared to heavy rolling stock or infrastructure. Though without power supplies, nothing would be possible and so power designers are actively engaged in railway modernization.

In the case of major modernization of a complete train (what is usually referred as “refurbishment”) consisting of the revamping of one that has already endured a long life span, equipment manufacturers ask power supplies manufacturers to develop Fit, Form and Function (3F) alternatives. That is, revised, updated power supplies but where the units’ fit, form and function remain the same, thus reducing implementation delays and guaranteeing the durability of the host equipment for many years. The development of a 3F power supply is very close to a specific development, but by combining the expertise of engineers, the platforms available from manufacturers specialized in the field of railroads, and the reuse of the original case or chassis make it possible to reduce development times spectacularly.

Most of the modernization of European rail networks is carried out at tracks and signalling systems level. Accordingly, equipment cabinets very often remain in place and installers ask for 3F solutions from the power supply manufacturers that can be installed in place of the old systems; a relatively simple process of “old equipment out, new equipment in”. In the case of very old systems, the technique used is to install an industrial chassis in the cabinet to facilitate the installation of standardized racks, which subsequently reduces the time required for updating, such as adding additional radio-telemetry systems or connecting the cabinet to fibre optic systems.

The general trend in railway power supplies is to reduce development times by adopting standardized or semi-standardized sub-assemblies. This is the will of the equipment manufacturers and increasingly the adopted solution for systems close to the tracks or embedded applications using card converters or cassettes. However there will always remain very specific power supplies requiring on-demand solutions that will continue to call upon very specific skills.

About the author:

Patrick Le Fèvre is Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Powerbox - www.prbx.com


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