Overview of the Pancam Pantograph Inspection System

Pancam uses machine vision technologies to capture and analyse images of locomotive pantographs.

Typical ‘side’ and ‘top’ view images.

Pancam uses two digital cameras. The ‘side’ view camera captures a profile of the pantograph against a white backboard. The profile is analysed to detect damage and step wear patterns, and to measure the depth of carbon block wear. The ‘top’ view is used to detect damaged and bent pantograph horns.

Overview of the Pancam system.

Pancam uses optical sensors to detect when the pantograph is in position. A signal is passed to an industrial PC which captures the image data from the cameras. AVI tag readers are used to identify the locomotive. The Pancam PC matches the tag data to the corresponding image data, analyses the images and reports the analysis results to a database using standard network technologies. The Pancam software is multithreaded so that images can be captured promptly and then processed in the available time between locomotives.

Specific design goals achieved by Pancam are as follows:

  • Monitoring of in-service locomotives.
  • Rapid acquisition of inspection data.
  • Timely reporting.
  • Robust to changing environment.
  • Employ standard computer and communications infrastructure.
  • Operate on demand 24x7.
Next: Techniques for Automatic Pantograph Inspection.

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