In 2011, Canadian Pacific (CP) implemented a new Automated Train Brake Effectiveness (ATBE) process for coal trains which replaces the visual Class 1 (No.1) Air Brake test required under Canada’s Department of Transport (Transport Canada – TC) regulations. The ATBE process relies on Wayside Detector technology to assess the operation of brakes on each railcar under dynamic conditions.

CP began analyzing wayside detector information in 2008 as the basis for evaluating the braking performance of coal trains in Canadian Export service, specifically targeting existing Hot Box / Hot Wheel Detectors strategically situated alongside the track. Using the wayside detector output, the new ATBE process improves upon the visual No.1 Brake Test by evaluating brake effectiveness. The wayside detector information is automatically transmitted to a central Equipment Health Monitoring System after each train passing, where train brake effectiveness is evaluated and results published to mechanical maintenance facilities and train crews. The published results constitute the completed ATBE Test for the train.

Given the substantial number of mechanical components requiring visual inspection each day by railway train inspectors, and taking into account the considerable investment CP has made into Wayside Detection technology, focus has moved towards Technology Driven Train Inspections (TDTI), preferring predictive, proactive maintenance practices and condition-based maintenance policies instead of the traditional reactive maintenance approach.

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