This solution improves the reliability of rail transport and reduces maintenance costs. As reported in the current issue of Pictures of the Future, the system registers the running sounds of wheelset bearings in trains that are under way.
For more than two years, RailBAM has been monitoring 45 trains with a total of 9,000 wheelsets in Southampton, UK. Normally, wheelsets are replaced every 1.2 million kilometers. Because RailBAM can detect damage long before an actual failure occurs, technicians can now replace wheelsets whenever the measurement data shows the first changes.
Early stages of damage to bearings cause characteristic changes in the running sounds of the wheels. If such alterations appear, the effected wheelset will be replaced the next time the train returns to a depot. In this way, sudden failure can be prevented. Conversely, a wheelset is allowed to remain in service beyond its normal maintenance interval, as long as the monitoring data doesn't show any problems that require attention.
At the moment, RailBAM can be used to monitor trains traveling at speeds up to a maximum of 160 kilometer per hour. However, due to the high level of interest from various rail operators, there are plans to adapt the system so that it can also operate with high-speed trains.
Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner | Siemens InnovationNews
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