INSV electric point heating


For controlling her INSV electrical points heating installations, PINTSCH ABEN applies the modular structured PA Line diagnosis, control and monitoring system. Besides the controlling hardware components mounted in the control cubicles along the track, PA Line also includes advanced system-specific software for the remote control and monitoring of a large number of points heating installations. PA Line is developed and manufactured by PINTSCH ABEN for the purpose of providing an innovative and economical single source solution to points heating. The PA Line system is approved by the German EBA.

Most important components of the installations are the INSV control cubicles. Each single control cubicle supplies the electrical power for the strip heaters, mounted on switchpoints located within an area of approximately Ø500 meters. An installation can enclose up to 24 control cubicles, all connected -one to another- by data cable. The maximum total length of the data cable is 20 km.

With the desktop BAE control panel an installation can be controlled and monitored from the station’s control room without PC.

PA Line Software

The operating PA Line software has been written specifically for points heating application in co-operation with expert engineers to guarantee reliability and stability where it counts on-track. In addition to its in-built stability and reliability, the system-specific PA Line software provides the possibility to interoperate with systems that use other communication protocols. The program offers a wide range of different screen visualisations. Some of the integrated screens are: station selection main menu, diagnosis main menu, reports / failures overview, element group overview and historical database. Using the station’s database you can create graphics with the optionally available PA Graph program extension.

The diagnosis main menu informs you about the pre-set temperatures to switch-on/off heating and the actually measured ambient and rail temperatures. Icon symbols in a process diagram show the actual status of the main power supply, heating function and moisture detection. Switch-on/off temperatures for wet and dry frost conditions can be set to local weather conditions. The PA Line program prevents freezing of the switchpoints caused by sudden snowfall at low ambient temperatures by heating earlier, at higher rail temperatures. World-wide experience enabled PINTSCH ABEN to add this special function.

The reports/failures overview shows the actual operational status of the main system components. Shown are for example switch status of the main and element group power supply, switch status of short time run (test) heating and actual failures. You can freely configure the number of showed reports and faults to your preferences. PA Line  stores all failure reports in a database. From this database you can extract a list of failures over a specific period. The list specifies type of failure, date/time of failure report and date/time of failure confirmation.

PA Line shows for each single strip heater group the actually flowing electric current and measured circuit resistance. Loss of heating capacity due to altering or damage to strip heaters and/or cables is signalised and enables the PA-Line system to generate it’s own (preventive) maintenance schedule. In standard setting PA Line alarms you when increase of strip heater resistance steps over 10%. The allowable %deviation can be set to your own preferences.

A very interesting feature of the PA Graph program is the extensive possibility to select graphics from the integrated historical database. You can overlook over a day, week or month the measured ambient and rail temperatures, moisture detection, consumed power and resistance per element group. It is easy to discover trends in the graphs: you will have a better understanding of the heating process characteristics and the local climatic conditions.

INSV Installation

An INSV electrical points heating installation encloses one or more INSV control cubicles. These low-voltage divider cubicles supply the electrical power for the strip heaters, mounted on a number of points that are located within a maximum circular area of about Ø500 metres. Using extra heavy power supply cables, larger areas are possible. In standard design, the components of the control cubicle are mounted in a stainless steel, aluminium or plastic cabinet, installed along the track. Cubicles are built specifically for each project and are mounted on an embedded -DIN normalised- concrete foundation frame.

To obtain maximum safety, PINTSCH ABEN applies galvanic separation between the strip heaters mounted on right and left stock rail. For that reason transformers with separated coils are installed in the control cubicle. For each group of heaters one transformer is installed. The transformers are constructed with 2 equal secondary coils: one for the heaters mounted on the right, the other for the heaters mounted on the left rail. Galvanic separation guarantees maximum security: in case of failures train-signalling systems can not be influenced by the installation.

One or more extra transformator cubicles are installed when more than  48 kVA. heating power is required. The INSV control cubicles installed in Europe are normally connected to a 400 Volt AC – 50 Hz power supply. With adjusted transformer coils any other AC power supply voltage can be used.

PA Line Hardware in the INSV Control Cubicle

The PCU (Process Control Unit) is specifically designed by PINTSCH ABEN to control and monitor point heating installations. The PCU controller is operated with a 4-line control menu display with operation panel. Main functions can be operated with control buttons. The control menu informs you about the pre-set switch on/off temperatures for wet and dry frost conditions. You can read out all measured current- and temperature values, failures and reports. LED indicators inform you about the actual operational status of the installation. To the PCU an area detector and sensors for rail and ambient temperature are connected. Using these input signals, the PCU switches the heating function on and off automatically. You can plug your laptop into the PCU for local system diagnosis. The PCU is connected to a PC in the  control room or to a telephone or GSM modem for remote diagnosis, control and monitoring of the system.

The INSV system modules enable all possible levels of functionality the customer can require. The SW module guards the voltage level of the main incoming power supply. In case the control system breaks down, a NFS module enables manual, local operation. ERM modules enable installation extensions up to 144 strip heater groups. SEM modules measure. electric current and circuit resistance continuously. Loss of heating capacity due to altering or damage to strip heaters and/or cables is signalised and enables the PA-Line system to generate it’s own (preventive) maintenance schedule.

Other Components of the INSV Control Cubicle

In each secondary circuit or strip heater group, a motor current breaker (MCB) is mounted. This safety device secures the system against short-circuits. MCB’s are pre-set with a limit amperage. When the current over a MCB is continuously higher than the limit value, it will break the circuit.

Maximum safety is obtained by installing an (optionally available) residual current device (RCD) in each secon-dary circuit. RCD’s are installed in the INSV control cubicle instead of MCB’s and have three functions: they work as a switch, as a thermal security and as personal protection device. Should someone touch the electric wires the RCD  immediately breaks the circuit.

For stand-alone installations set-up with a single INSV control unit, a dial modem in industrial, heavy-duty construction is installed. The modem, mounted in the INSV control cubicle is connected to the PCU and a telephone line. It enables remote control and monitoring of the installation. This is also possible for installations with more than one control cubicle. In those cases an interface convertor unit is mounted in one of the INSV control cubicles. The convertor is connected between PCU and modem.

As an alternative for above specified modem, an industrial GSM modem with antenna in heavy-duty construction is available. It offers a wireless connection to the operations centre. The antenna can be installed inside plastic cubicles. When metal cubicles are applied, the antenna is mounted on the outside of the cubicle. For this application PINTSCH ABEN uses a special GSM antenna which is highly resistant against vandalism.

Meteoscan Area Detector

PINTSCH ABEN designed the METEOSCAN area detector specifically for railway applications. This high-duty weather station determines the switch-on moment of a switchpoint heating installation using programmed conditions for it’s measured values.

It is possible to order the METEOSCAN as a sensor station or as autonomous functioning switching station. To obtain the highest possible level of functional availability and durability, the pillar-shaped housing is constructed in full stainless steel. The METEOSCAN is maximally protected against vandalism. The control unit (mounted in an IP65 box), temperature/humidity sensors and cable connections are all mounted inside the pillar.

The pyramid on top of the METEOSCAN holds 4 series-connected moisture sensors which are continuously electrically heated to enable detection of snow. Important advantage of the 4-directional detecting sensor head is the optimal detection of drifting snow caused by trains and heavy wind.

Strip Heaters

The applied 230 or 110 Volt AC strip heaters have a capacity of 250-330 Watt/m. Normally standard heaters 4750 mm./1,2 kVA or 6000 mm./1,5 kVA are mounted. The quality of the strip heaters is the highest available and can – depending on local conditions – be guaranteed up to 10 years.

Following the radius/blade-lenght of a switchpoint and the required location-specific heating capacity, a number of strip heaters are installed in single (photo left) or double heater configuration. Strip heaters are firmly mounted on the stockrail with solid clamps, which also hold the cable connector. Stainless steel clips or plates (for double heater configuration) press the heaters vibration-resistant to the stockrail, allowing their thermal expansion. The scope of supply includes 8 meter heater connection cables 2×1,5 mm., neoprene protection hoses and stainless steel mounting materials.

The solid PINTSCH ABEN cable connection boxes are available in 2 types. One is used to connect 1-4, the other to connect 5-8 strip heaters. The yellow boxes are supported by a cast iron support and installed approx. 500 mm. above the track bed.

PINTSCH ABEN cable connection boxes have proven to be very durable on several locations in Russia.