Schunk OnTrack Monitoring

The digital key technology for transport operators and infrastructure managers


The safety and efficiency of rail infrastructure and vehicles also depends on the condition of overhead lines and pantographs. But too often, data is lacking quality and quantity needed to derive predictive measures that increase safety and reduce downtime.

As a renowned development partner for power transmission technologies for rail systems, we use the Schunk OnTrack Monitoring process solution to upgrade our in-house power transmission systems and make them smart. In this way, we manage to reliably collect as much data as possible in order to use it beneficially.

Contact Force

The contact force between the sliding contact strip and the contact wire requires precise adjustment in order to prevent increased wear or insufficient contact and the associated sparking. The OnTrack system from Schunk measures the contact force during operation so that it can be optimized subsequently if necessary.

Sliding Strip

As an elementary component of the current collector, a dysfunction or defect of the sliding strips is particularly serious. Thanks to OnTrack Monitoring, it is possible to permanently check the condition of the contact strips, detect wear at an early stage and plan the right time for replacement.

Zigzag Geometry

An overhead line laid in an optimal zigzag contacts the sliding strip evenly over its entire width of use and thus ensures the lowest possible wear. The OnTrack system from Schunk monitors the zigzag geometry, also called stagger, in order to optimize it if necessary and prevent increased wear.

  Schunk OnTrack Monitoring with Sensors to monitor hard spots on overhead line

Hard Spots

Defects on the overhead line are caused either by improper maintenance of the overhead line or by defective contact strips on the current collector. These so-called hard spots can worsen over time. With the help of Schunk's OnTrack Monitoring system, defects on the overhead line can be reliably located, quantified and monitored.

A comparison with other measuring systems

OnTrack is a continuously operating recording system for railroads, which serves to detect and solve problems at an early stage. Compared to existing and established solutions for precisely this area of application, the Schunk OnTrack Monitoring solution from the Schunk Group scores with low hardware costs, as it can be easily retrofitted to existing Schunk pantographs. It is recommended to equip between 20 and 50 percent of the fleet with the system in order to benefit from a swarm intelligence effect.

Schunk OnTrack Monitoring is known as a robust system that does not require any optical parts at all. Unlike the visual inspection of pantograph and overhead contact line, the actual dynamic interaction is measured, resulting in higher process reliability.

Effectively reduce costs thanks to Schunk OnTrack Monitoring

Defective overhead lines and pantographs are typical problems that can cost a transport company dearly. Schunk OnTrack Monitoring addresses precisely this issue and offers great potential for financial savings. Not only are the costs of delays reduced, but the data collected also simplifies scheduled maintenance. If damage does occur, the data collected by OnTrack quickly lets you infer whether the operator or the infrastructure is responsible for the fault. Last but not least, unscheduled maintenance such as the repair of damaged vehicles and overhead lines can also be carried out more easily, more quickly and therefore always more cost-effectively through the use of the monitoring system.

Self-sufficient and universal - the OnTrack Monitoring system from Schunk

OnTrack Monitoring is used at Schunk for digital condition monitoring of web systems. Digital solutions not only simplify rail operations, but also the planned or unplanned maintenance of rail systems. The special feature: with the autonomous system, existing pantographs can be retrofitted, always complying with the applicable railroad standards. An autonomous power supply, high resistance to the environmental influences typical for the application, and a low dead weight create a functional and reliable solution.

Tom Nusch

Product Manager Schunk OnTrack Monitoring

Would you like expert advice? Our Product Manager for OnTrack Monitoring will be happy to help you!

Your expert for digital monitoring

As one of the world's leading and internationally renowned partners for power transmission technologies in the transportation sector, Schunk Transit Systems has special expertise with many years of experience. We see ourselves as an innovation-driven company that wants to use smart technologies and machine learning to create more efficient and reliable overhead line as well as pantograph systems.

This is where our OnTrack Monitoring system solution comes into play, allowing existing current transmission systems to be easily retrofitted and thus made smarter and more efficient. Benefit from the numerous features and advantages of OnTrack Monitoring as well as our decades of experience in the specific field of power transmission technologies and rely on the products and system solutions from Schunk. Schunk OnTrack Monitoring can be retrofitted to many existing pantographs from the Schunk Group. In addition, we will be happy to advise you on the technical possibilities with power transmission solutions when tendering for new vehicle fleets. If you are interested in our state-of-the-art solutions, please feel free to contact us. Our competent team will provide you with information on how we can best support you in your planned project. We look forward to your inquiry. 

Infrastructure and sensor technology - the components of the OnTrack solution

The OnTrack Monitoring technology is made up of various components that interact with each other and make the data-driven system solution possible in the first place. The sliding strips are complemented by a wide variety of sensors that are positioned in the areas of the rocker and the base frame on the pantograph. They are able to detect possible disturbances of the overhead line and the pantograph. The base unit, which is attached to the base frame, ensures the power supply and enables data processing as well as data transmission via WLAN, GSM and LTE. A special user interface serves as a useful interface. 

From GPS to Zigzag - Features of Schunk OnTrack Monitoring

Our Schunk OnTrack Monitoring solution creates an effective way for infrastructure monitoring and digital maintenance of railroad systems. A precise GPS algorithm can detect the positioning in the field, in tunnels and mountains as well as in stations with a deviation of a few meters. In addition, our solution dynamically records the contact force of the pantograph against the overhead line. In this way, conclusions can be drawn about problematic wear or insufficient contact that promotes sparking.

The sliding strips are permanently checked for their condition and the degree of wear by a special monitoring system, so that possible damage and the need for replacement can be detected at an early stage and action taken in good time. Hard spots, i.e. defects in the overhead line, can also be localized and monitored in detail using OnTrack Monitoring. It also offers a practical way of monitoring the zigzag geometry of the overhead line, also known as stagger. In the future, the OnTrack system from Schunk will also be able to monitor critical and expensive system components of the pantograph itself.