sand level monitoring
  • Clients:

    SWR Class 450/444

  • Category:

    PassengerThought Leadership

  • Services:

    Asset Optimisation

  • Web:


Digital Insight into Sander Usage

Rail sand box monitoring

An entirely new IIoT application 

Transportise are developing a completely new remote monitoring system, using revolutionary point cloud technology to read sand hopper level and position of the vehicle on track to 40mm.  This involves integration of all wireless hardware and telemetry, as well as bespoke data integration to SWR specification.

Train sanding systems – issues

The sanding system on a train is a key feature to improve adhesion levels between wheel and rail during traction and braking.  It comprises a sandbox assembly mounted to the vehicle underframe, and an exhaust hose that runs from the sandbox to a bogie mounted sand nozzle so positioned to direct sand in front of the leading wheel. 

However, due to the nature of its operation and operating variables (typically inclement weather requiring larger sand deposits), accurately predicting the sand level within the sandbox has, to date, proved difficult, with manual checks often resorted to.

The Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) requirement

The much broader remote remote monitoring solution required is to provide live status of sand levels and sand condition, while also integrating with the train’s interfaces in relation to track infrastructure and sand deployment heat maps, to learn and improve sand deployment overall.

Blending proven technologies, electronics and vision

While wireless remote condition monitoring and data transmission is a proven technology, it is the application and understanding the bigger picture that provides the challenge and new way of thinking.  It required more than a standard sensor to deal with the relatively harsh environment of the sandbox, and the novel technology mix, with its millimetre accuracy, was the measurement technology that proved a breakthrough.  Transportise then had the capability to design and build a T-box capable of powering the point cloud technology. 

The potential scope of the new application

The live data available on a customised dashboard or integrated into the train’s reporting systems, will enable an operator at the depot to view the train sand level in every sandbox with a sensor.  If predetermined levels are reached, there is an alert and report by exception.

The scope then broadens over time as historical records enable predictive behaviours.  This means better material planning and a better understanding of train behaviour during traction and braking at specific points on the operating route.

This infographic shows the full turnkey solution, that fits within an existing legacy systems as it is designed to do. Other potential sensors are shown providing insights for the whole ops team from one central source. 

Bringing fringe assets within reach

Our vision is to offer a uniform price and technology to connect any ‘thing’ anywhere in the UK rail network regardless of fleet, onboard connectivity or age.  

The Sandbox solution is just one example of how the Transportise team utilised its own and its partners’ expertise to create a solution that had previously not existed, replacing a manual method with a highly optimised alternative.