Eltek power expert Mathias Lang explains the advantages of modern power solutions

Mathias Lang is segment manager for Railway & Metro. He is located in Karlstad, Sweden, from where he is responsible for Eltek’s portfolio and position in the global railway and metro market.

Eltek and railroads

Eltek is one of the pioneers in the international power conversion industry, with some 45 years of experience as a supplier of power systems for applications in the most demanding environments. We’re big in telecom, where requirements are as tough as they come. Our telecom heritage has been the foundation for our growing presence as a rail power supplier over the past two decades.

Room and need for a new technology regime

The current railroad infrastructure is rapidly coming of age. To a large degree, it is held together by a large number of interlocking systems, each one stand-alone, but depending on its neighbor as links in a chain. Not every one of these systems has its own battery backup, and if one link fails, so does the entire chain of systems required to operate the rail service. 

There are lots of different systems of different voltages, catering for different needs, with different types of equipment sourced from different suppliers. This complexity also makes it hard – if not impossible – to oversee the entire landscape and foresee problems. There is no way to manage the network as one entity. 

Reduced complexity means greater reliability at a lower cost of ownership

Mathias Lang, Corporate Segment Manager Railway & Metro

The same is true for the power systems used in the rail network – by and large they are old, inefficient and do not have the reliability expected in this day and age. The equipment may not fail frequently, but when it does, it could be costly to repair and there may be problems with spares. There is usually no redundancy on module level.

Inefficient power conversion modules equal waste equal higher operating cost and higher emissions than need be. The accumulated effect across thousands of systems is tremendous, not least in terms of risk exposure.

The better way

There is an obvious case for streamlining and simplifying the rail technology architecture. One place to start is with the power systems. Eltek’s technology, solutions and products fit hand-in-glove with a desire to reduce complexity, cost and environmental impact, and increase overview and control. “Modularity” is the key word: the ability to build power systems to fit a broad range of needs based on a just a few building blocks, and even the ability to manage many systems as one.

The advantages for Railways

Modularity equals scalability – a modular system is future proof as new modules can be added and systems dimensioned to the requirements in question. Within a single stand alone system, various combinations of uninterruptible supplies, required each for different load, are possible.

“Modularity” is the key word, says Mathias Lang, Corporate Segment Manager Railway & Metro

One modular system, with one battery backup and one controller, catering for several applications and voltage levels, will obviously save a lot of space compared to several smaller systems with duplicated functions. Our systems are very flexible, with many options for system configurations (both hardware- and software-wise).

Simplified and less costly maintenance is another advantage. The modular system architecture with several modules sharing the load, means modules can be hot-swapped, swiftly, with no disturbance to operation.

Continuity of supply is also inherent to the switch-mode & modular technology: redundancy is realized by one or more modules, according to specific customer needs

Another important aspect of our systems is their ability to be controlled, not only the individual power system itself and locally, but several systems from one remote terminal.

Let me also add that our HE modules are industry leading when it comes to efficiency, up to 98.5%.

At the end of the day, it all adds up to lower total cost of ownership, a simpler job of running and maintaining power supplies and a greater contribution towards a ”green mobility” society.

The future is here

Looking ahead, our technology is set to play a key role in powering tomorrow’s railways. The Rectiverter, our latest power conversion module, is the world’s first to combine AC and DC output in one module, capable of feeding both types of loads and charging batteries at the same time.

Jan 07, 2018
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