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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Vale, GE make Brazilian connection

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Brazil’s Vale and GE Transportation have entered into an agreement to install GE’s Trip Optimizer on nearly 114 Vale locomotives in operation across Brazil.

GE describes Trip Optimizer as “a smart, automated cruise control system that ingests data, analyzes route topology and conditions, and creates an optimally fuel-efficient plan, producing fuel savings up to 10%.” Trip Optimizer has been implemented in the U.S., Canada, Australia, China, Mexico, and now in Brazil and Mozambique on Vale’s railroads. Almost 3,000 trains a day operate using this technology.

Vale’s Trip Optimizer-equipped locomotives will operate along the Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC, the Carajás railroad), which connects Vale’s mines in the southeast of Pará State to the Ponta de Madeira Maritime Terminal in Maranhão State. GE says preliminary tests produced fuel savings of up to 2.45%, but upon full deployment in 2019, Vale is expected to save 9.4 million liters (2.5 million gallons) of B8 diesel fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 22,700 tons per year.

Vale’s trains are some of the largest in the world, comprising 334 cars and three locomotives, two of which are are placed every 110 cars, operating in Distributed Power mode. “To meet Vale’s needs, we customized Trip Optimizer, in partnership with engineers at our global Research Center in Rio de Janeiro, to better navigate the dynamic characteristics of the Brazilian landscape and maximize fuel savings,” said Marcos Costa, President and CEO of GE Transportation in Latin America.

Vale’s customized application can identify track speed limits as well as reduce the risk of train separation resulting from broken couplers due to excessive buff and draft in-train forces caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration.

“Trip Optimizer starts operating when the train reaches a speed of 12 mph; we’re working to improve this by developing a system that kicks in at start-up,” said Alexandre Silva, leader of the Smart Systems area at GE’s Global Research center in Brazil. “The solution standardizes operating with less internal force on the couplings and increases safety.”

“Our locomotives will run on autopilot to achieve the diesel fuel consumption target,” said Leonardo Vieira Machado Alexandre, Manager of Railroad Engineering at Vale. “The early tests on the Carajás Railroad were particularly difficult, because of the size and weight of the train. Over time, GE developed the system in partnership with Vale’s engineers to achieve more efficient operation.”

Pilot tests on the Vitória-Minas Railroad, linking Vale’s mines to the Port of Tubarão, and along the Nacala Corridor, in Mozambique, where the company has coal operations, will be started shortly.

“Trip Optimizer enables Vale to increase logistics productivity,” says Humberto Freitas, GE’s Executive Director of Logistics and Environmental Research. “Another important aspect is the environmental benefit. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by using less fuel,"

Trip Optimizer has logged more than 200 million miles in automatic control mode, saving GE customers more than 118 million gallons of fuel, GE said. “It can, in real time, can determine the appropriate time to accelerate or brake, analyzing factors such as train length, weight, track quality and conditions, to achieve the greatest fuel efficiency.”