With an innovative technology package from SKF, Ningbo Rail Transit has extended the service life of critical refurbished bearings on eight trainset vehicles from 800,000 to 1 million km. The project is the first commercial application of SKF’s Insight Metro wireless condition monitoring system, which has been developed in China specifically for the needs of the domestic rail sector.
Insight Metro is a self-contained, battery-operated condition monitoring unit that can record speed, temperature, and vibration data from individual bearings, then transmit that data to the SKF cloud using a secure mobile network connection. The units operate autonomously for up to six months and can be recharged in situ when required using wireless charging technology.
Ningbo Rail Transit has deployed 96 Insight Metro units across a fleet of around 200 trains that run on Line 1, a 46 km east-west route through the city. The new units will be installed on high-mileage bearings in axle units, offering an early warning of any signs of wear or damage. The units send periodic snapshots of operating data to an SKF Remote Diagnostics Service Center, where expert analysts apply advanced algorithms to derive insights about bearing health and performance. Ningbo Rail Transit maintenance teams received a monthly report on bearing condition, as well as real-time alerts if a more urgent intervention is required.
“Insight Metro offers the power of continuous condition monitoring in a package that is easier and more cost-effective to deploy across a large fleet of assets,” says Hower Fan, condition monitoring development manager at SKF. “Together with SKF’s advanced bearing and lubrication technology, the system is helping Ningbo Rail Transit achieve its goals of improved reliability and availability, and lower operating costs.”
The metro system in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, serves around ten million people in the busy port city and surrounding areas. Construction of the eight-line network began in 2009 and completion is expected by 2026. Line 1, where the new SKF equipment has been deployed, has been in operation since 2014.