Vale to install GE's Trip Optimizer solution to save locomotive fuel consumption


Vale has signed an agreement to install GE's Trip Optimizer on-board roughly 114 locomotives operating across Brazil.

Trip Optimizer is an automated cruise control system that leverages data to analyse route topology and conditions in order to provide an optimally fuel-efficient plan to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%.

Trains equipped with Trip Optimizer are set to operate along the Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC), which connects Vale's mines in the southeast of Pará state to the Ponta de Madeira Maritime Terminal in Maranhão state of Brazil.

The system's initial tests achieved fuel savings of up to 2.45%, and Vale expects to save 9.4 million litres of B8 diesel and decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 22,700t annually upon full deployment in 2019.

The solution is effective in determining the appropriate time to accelerate or brake after considering train length, weight, track quality and other conditions to optimise fuel efficiency.

GE claimed that Trip Optimizer has logged more than 200 million miles in auto control mode, saving approximately 118 million gallons of fuel in the process.

"We customised Trip Optimizer, in partnership with engineers at our global Research Center in Rio de Janeiro, to better navigate the dynamic characteristics of the Brazilian landscape."

GE Transportation Latin America president and CEO Marcos Costa said: “These are some of the largest trains in the world, comprising 334 wagons and three locomotives. The main locomotive drives and two auxiliaries are placed every 110 wagons.

“To meet Vale's needs, we customised Trip Optimizer, in partnership with engineers at our global Research Center in Rio de Janeiro, to better navigate the dynamic characteristics of the Brazilian landscape and maximise fuel savings.”

The system is also capable of identifying track speed restrictions and prevents the train from operating over the limit, which also reduces the risk of braking couplings between the wagons due to sudden acceleration and deceleration.

Trip Optimizer currently begins functioning after the vehicle reaches a speed of 19kph, however GE is working to improve the system so that it starts operating as soon as the vehicle starts.

The solution has already been implemented in the US, Canada, Australia, China and Mexico on Vale-operated railroads.

Almost 3,000 trains operate using this technology on a daily basis, travelling a combined distance of more than 16 million kilometres.