Digital Twin of the Month: Twinning the GP38-2 iron horse
Sept 18 was an epic day in 1830. This was the first head-to-head race of the iron horse and bio-horse; the steam locomotive was battling for acceptance. While the locomotive of the day, called Tom Thumb, lost largely on mechanical issues, it eventually won the next race. The locomotive had started on its path to dominate freight and transportation. Fast forward 185 years, and the iron horse is very different but still dominant in many countries. On average, railroads are four times more fuel-efficient than trucks, according to the Association of American Railroad.
Twinning the locomotive
Welcome to our monthly spotlight on digital twin designs.
This month we ‘twin’ a widely used locomotive. The EMD GP38-2 is a four-axle diesel-electric locomotive of the road switcher type built by General Motors, Electro-Motive Division. EMD produced over 2,000 of these locomotives throughout North America in the 1970s and 1980s, with EMD discontinuing the model in 1986. This model’s success and durability also means that 30 years after its production ceased, there are still many roaming around. Its more current variants operate as a ‘rolling power plant’ with over 250 sensors and 150,000 data points per minute.
At an average price of $1,700,000 it seems logical to ‘twin’ a locomotive to ensure reliability, resale, and efficiency. A good digital twin can tell us valuable information of the locomotive inside as well as outside; bad weather accounts for 4–8 percent of railway disruptions. Twins should look not only at the lifespan but offer real-time moments of use and inform us of speed, brake temperature, vibration, heat, precipitation, track incline, fuel consumption per mile/per ton, tractive effort, and more. Other interesting details you should know of your (GP38-S) locomotive twin:
Weight is 135-Tons
Length: 59ft 2in
Max. Horsepower: 2000 HP
Tractive (pulling) force: 61,000 lbf (equivalent to 2,000 HP)
Interested in more digital twins? Read Twinning’ the W16 Engine.