MRX Technologies, one of the winners of RSSB’s Rail Operator Challenge Competition, has developed a device to measure surface cracks on wheels. The new device, which can extend the life of wheelsets, has the potential to produce cost savings of up to 25%.
Rail operators spend a large proportion of maintenance costs on wear and tear to wheels. This is set to be significantly reduced by the new Surface Crack Measurement (SCM) technology. Originally used to detect defects in rails, the process uses a magnetic flux to discern the extent of damage to the wheel.
The hand-held wheel SCM device glides over the surface of the wheel and produces a map of the wheel tread damage. It replaces the visual inspection process, which is inadequate for judging the depth of defects. By discerning the depth of cracks, up to 10mm, the new process indicates exactly how much material needs to be removed during wheel turning.
The savings come from both only needing to do a single set of wheel profiling, when the depth of the wheel crack has been underestimated; and from reducing the amount of material removed when the depth has been overestimated.
This device has been validated by experts at the University of Huddersfield, with whom RSSB has a strategic partnership.