The RAILECT device was originally developed to fit the UIC 60 European standard rail profile, using phased array ultrasonic technology to assess integrity of rail welds. It has the ability to provide many more details than conventional ultrasonic techniques, and offers a recording capability for all the inspection data. At the end of the RAILECT project in 2011, the prototype system could give full coverage of the rail weld and assess its integrity within 20 minutes. The technique was subsequently patented by the project partnership.
Designed and manufactured in 2013, the new prototype developed by TWI has been demonstrated in conferences, exhibitions and to potential customers, generating much interest from the industry, including the Hong Kong based MTR, which is seeking a tailored RAILECT design for its own profiles.
The cause of this interest is due to the need for a highly reliable, rapid and cost effective aluminothermic welds inspection technique. Although the use of AT welds is well established, with an estimated 400,000 new welds being made annually throughout Europe, it remains a complex process, potentially influenced by the welder’s skills and/or environmental conditions. As such they may develop flaws during and shortly after welding, leading to disruption to train services and increased costs for rail network operators, maintenance operators and train operating companies. The system developed by the RAILECT team offers new confidence and efficiency to an advancing European industry sector.