Pinpoint battery problems with REC’s battery monitor

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
REC Batteries

The Federal Railroad Administration requires grade crossing warning equipment backup battery systems to undergo inspection and load testing every 30 days, and does not allow any time frame flexibility. Railway Equipment Company has developed a remote battery cell monitor that can eliminate errors that sometimes occur during the inspection process, where each battery cell must be individually tested with a meter by a signal maintainer.

REC BatteriesThis technology, which was demonstrated at Railway Interchange 2015, collects data from individual battery cells or battery strings. The monitors communicate via wireless 900 MHz to the battery monitor, DTC, or SMC battery chargers. Additionally, they are compatible with Net-Rready® remote monitoring software, allowing “convenient access to the status of equipment and data, anywhere at any time,” according to REC CEO Dave Fox.

REC MonitorREC ScreenThe battery cell monitor offers both data collection and data analysis and distribution functions. It monitors live data points for the temperature and voltage of each individual battery cell, and will monitor up to 60 individual cells. It operates off a single cell of 8 VDC to 5 VDC. A user-friendly interface with a 20 x 20 OLED display with four pushbuttons navigates settings. It is capable of identifying a deteriorating battery cell prior to damage to the rest of the battery cell bank. It is customizable with a web-based user interface for viewing historical data to identify bad or deteriorating cells. It estimates the remaining battery capacity based on amp-hours consumed, discharge current temperature and battery age. It estimates the remaining runtime based on battery capacity and average load over a period of time.

REC Battery TempREC’s battery monitor is currently in use on Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd., and is testing on two U.S. Class I railroads. The railroads are currently petitioning the FRA to allow remotely collected test data to be used for inspection requirements. “This is a safer, more reliable method than manual inspection. It can free signal inspectors to concentrate on other critical tasks required to operate a safe railroad,” says Fox.

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