Enhancing safety on rail and road.

A train brakes reliably, thanks to wheel slide protection; a truck’s emergency brake assistant brings the vehicle to a timely stop at the end of a traffic tailback. Smart future-facing solutions for rail and commercial vehicles can prevent accidents and compensate for drivers’ errors.

All over the world, leading-edge technologies from Knorr-Bremse make a vital contribution towards ensuring the safety of people and freight on rail and road. Our solutions place us at the forefront of technological development. Safety and quality are in our DNA, and both our divisions work tirelessly to further improve their outstanding performance in this respect. The strength of this cross-functional approach means Knorr-Bremse is well positioned to respond to the latest megatrends such as automated driving, electrification, and digital connectivity.

ABS for rail vehicles

An ABS system for rail vehicles – referred to as a ‘wheel slide protection system’ – reacts within thousandths of a second to regulate the braking force and prevent the wheel lock that would otherwise result in a longer braking distance. It also helps prevent wheel flats, which generate unnecessary noise and are expensive for train operators to remedy. The new MGS3 – a significant advancement of Knorr-Bremse’s tried-and-tested wheel slide protection system – is suitable for installation in all vehicle types; it operates faster and with greater precision, reducing braking distances by applying braking force sooner to the point of wheel-rail contact. The system’s new, streamlined wheel slide protection valve reacts rapidly to differences in adhesion between wheel and rail, improving braking performance even on extremely slippery track.

Predictive maintenance with Platform 4.0

Platform 4.0 provides a basis for collecting data on the condition of rail vehicle systems, helping fleet operators save costs through predictive maintenance. In creating the platform, Knorr-Bremse has effectively transferred the idea behind smartphones and their apps to rail vehicles. Although it is currently largely confined to this sector, the system can easily be extended to others. The underlying basic principle is that the more data on vehicle sub-systems the operator puts on the platform, the more useful it becomes.

The KE control valve receives a makeover

The KE control valve – which regulates the braking force by varying the air pressure in the brake cylinder – is a classic on European railroads, with 60 years of successful operation under its belt. Now Knorr-Bremse has given its most important control valve a thorough engineering makeover. It has become lighter, with hot-pressed aluminum parts replacing heavy sandcast ones, clever standardization reducing the number of variants from some 500 to a mere ten, and bulky control elements neatly accommodated in the rack. The overall effect is to make the KE significantly lighter and more compact. Even the standard version fits into a confined space, for example in low-floor vehicles, without any modification being required.

Pneumatics – still a role to play

Despite the advances made in digitalization, traditional mechanical devices still play an essential role in the rail sector. Because freight cars have neither an electrical supply nor a wireless communication system, end-of-train devices (ETDs) have to rely on an entirely mechanical/pneumatic solution. The original role of ETDs was to indicate the rear of the train, usually with a red light, and for this reason they were attached to the end of the main pneumatic pipe. But if they are supplied with a pneumatic brake module, they can also provide an important additional braking function that enables operators to run longer, heavier, or faster trains. Tests carried out with a Scandinavian operator showed that the braking distance could be reduced by some 25% – a convincing demonstration, as a result of which the system can now also be found in operation inside the Arctic Circle.

Optimized braking torque for trucks

Synact is a new generation of braking system that weighs 10% less and yet delivers more than 10% extra torque, even during long periods of braking. The brake caliper is more rigid, the clearance is reliably kept within a narrow tolerance band, and the internal mechanics are very smooth-running and ideally geared. Synact thus offers excellent responsiveness and enhanced braking torque regulation. These characteristics mean the new brake offers a good basis for further improving road safety, and for the development of automated driving – for which braking systems will have to cope with extremely short gaps between vehicles.

With the help of the Blind Spot Assistant’s radar sensor and video camera, a truck driver can monitor the nearside and rear of his vehicle. The system warns him if there is a danger of collision.

Improved safety for platooning

To take full advantage of platooning, there have to be very short gaps between vehicles. Current regulations require trucks traveling at full speed to maintain a safety gap of 50 meters from the vehicle in front. Platooning will reduce this to between 10 and 15 meters. With their enhanced responsiveness, modern braking systems like Synact help ensure the safety of the vehicles involved. Another requirement of platooning is inter-vehicle communication to ensure that emergency braking can occur more or less simultaneously for them all. Platooning can cut fuel consumption by 10 to 15% – which not only reduces environmental pollution but also saves costs, given that fuel typically accounts for 40% of a truck’s total costs of operation.

Emergency braking: preventing rear-end collisions

Driver assistance systems from Knorr-Bremse are set to make a crucial contribution to preventing collisions. By integrating the radar, video camera, and braking system, Wingman Fusion not only warns the driver when the truck comes too close to the vehicle in front – it even recognizes stationary objects in its path and reliably applies the brakes. This can help prevent rear-end collisions in tailbacks. If there is no longer enough room for effective emergency braking, the next generation of assistance systems will also automatically steer the vehicle into the adjacent lane, provided it is empty.

Blind Spot Assistant

By contrast, the Blind Spot Assistant is designed to significantly reduce the number of accidents occurring at urban intersections. Serious incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians frequently occur when a truck is turning off to the nearside, because the driver has difficulty in identifying other road users close to the vehicle, despite having several side mirrors. This is where the Blind Spot Assistant comes in. A combination of video and radar monitoring of the area to the side of the vehicle warns the driver of possible collisions. The next stage of development will be a system that actively intervenes in the steering in such critical situations.

Safer tipping and loading

Knorr-Bremse has also enhanced the safety of trailers and semi-trailers. Fully laden dump trucks operating on terrain that slopes to the side, such as on construction sites, face particular danger that when the body is lifted, the center of gravity changes and the vehicle rolls over. The automatic intelligent Trailer Access Point (iTAP) system can stop such a critical point being reached and prevent rollover. iTAP also offers safety functions such as a reversing camera or a camera that allows monitoring of the cargo container via the cellphone app.

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