Article: Embever

Smart sensors on frost duty

Embever participated in our support program for start-ups at DB mindbox in 2019. Now, the firm is working with Deutsche Bahn on a project to use smart sensors as a way of ensuring that locomotives are always ready for operation in winter.

Class 101 locomotives haul IC trains the length and breadth of Germany. To ensure that these vehicles can be deployed whenever necessary during the coldest months of the year, they remain connected to the electricity supply even when on standby. Voltage fluctuations can cause a locomotive to disconnect from the overhead line. The starter battery then drains and the locomotive cannot be used when it is needed.

This is where Embever's smart IoT (internet of things) technology comes in. Wireless, battery-powered sensors monitor the voltage of the starter battery, and if they detect an issue, a message goes straight to the relevant operations center. Thanks to this system, vehicles can be deployed when necessary, which improves punctuality. The sensor system also reduces the need to perform labor-intensive checks that staff nickname "frost duty".

The IoT devices have low power requirements that use radio signals to communicate, and Embever has developed a platform for operating them. Founded in 2017 and based in Magdeburg, the company's objective is to use IoT solutions to simplify complicated processes. This approach has a number of advantages: No special infrastructure is required for installing the sensors, and their batteries last for years at a time.