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SAFERAIL prototypes minimise wheelset failures

Published on 15 February 2012
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SAFERAIL phased array France 1

The SAFERAIL project was completed at the end of 2011. The three year long part-funded project comprised TWI and 10 rail- related industrial partners, and has been successfully managed to investigate both track-side online inspection, and manual inspection of wheelsets.

The objectives of the project included producing NDT equipment prototypes which would minimise wheelset failures, improve safety and reduce maintenance costs using financially viable, ecologically sound, and efficient techniques which were accessible to all EU countries.

The development work was undertaken by European partners in Belgium, France, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and the UK.

The techniques under investigation included high frequency vibration analysis, acoustic emission sensing, and thermography.. all track-side inspection techniques. The manual inspection techniques included alternating current field measurement, and phased array ultrasonics testing.

At its conclusion meeting the SAFERAIL consortium demonstrated the successful operation of several project prototypes designed to identify faulty axles, wheels and suspension.


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SAFERAIL phased array France 2

In a follow-on aspect to the work the consortium now hopes to develop the prototype technology to full commercialisation.

TWI was the co-ordinator of the SAFERAIL project, and was also responsible for the development of its manual phased array ultrasonic (PAUT) inspection techniques. The manual inspection PAUT system design comprises a number of inspection techniques, and probe and shoe designs, specific to the inspection area of the wheelset.

Off-the-shelf PAUT data acquisition kit was used. The value added by the SAFERAIL project lay in the development of the inspection techniques and unique deployment of the PAUT probes. Probe holders, including encoders, were developed within the project. These, together with Level Two written procedures, now offer reliable inspection solutions for both axles and wheels.

The successful implementation of the SAFERAIL deliverables, and subsequent commercialisation of the proof of principle prototypes, offers the rail industry several technical advantages which will increase the reliability of rolling stock operations and contribute towards the optimisation of operation cost efficiency.

The SAFERAIL portable phased array inspection system developed by TWI for manual inspection of wheels.

SAFERAIL is a collaboration between the following organisations: Alfa Products & Technologies, EMEF SA, Envirocoustics A.B.E.E., Feldman Enterprises LTD, Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade, Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF), Technical Software Consultants Ltd, TWI Ltd, University of Birmingham, Vlaamse Vervoermaatschappij De Lijn, VTG Rail UK Ltd. The project is co-ordinated and managed by TWI Ltd and is partly funded by the EC under the COLLABORATIVE Project ref: SCP7-GA-2008-218674.

For more information about SAFERAIL, please contact us.

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