This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine Issue 4 2021.
DTEC GmbH is a supplier of NDT (non-destructive testing) equipment specialising in innovative, turnkey flaw detection solutions for railway wheelsets and train condition monitoring.
To enhance inspection services for railway safety, DTEC GmbH has combined Olympus’ advanced phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) with machine vision to create intelligent automated wheel inspection systems (WIS). DTEC GmbH’s automated inspection system solutions can perform:
The WIS uses Olympus’ FOCUS PX PAUT instrumentation to detect manufacturing flaws, defects, and fatigue cracks in high-speed train, locomotive, and rolling stock wheels and axles.
“The Olympus FOCUS PX makes our star product, the Underfloor Wheelset Ultrasonic Testing System (UW-UT, or UFPE in German), an excellent solution for modern railway maintenance depots. It enables the inspection of wheels for fatigue cracks without needing to remove the wheelset from the vehicle,” says Dr Eric Peng, Chief Engineer at DTEC GmbH.
The wheelset components of trains are susceptible to rolling-contact fatigue (RCF) due to consistent high loads and speeds. RCF can induce spalling (flaking) and shelling, causing the wheel rim to lose chunks of material leading to serious safety issues such as the potential for derailment.
Railway operators can use conventional ultrasonic testing (UT) to detect rail-wheel contact and cycling stress, limiting the 360-degree-circumferential flaw detection of wheels. Inconveniently, UT requires that wheelsets be removed from the vehicle to perform a proper inspection, which is inefficient.
DTEC GmbH needed an efficient, accurate, and reliable solution that would enable them to keep the wheels on the vehicle during the inspection process.
PAUT allows operators to do just that. In comparison to UT, PAUT offers the ability to steer, focus, and scan beams allowing the inspector to scan difficult-to-reach components, such as wheels in the undercarriage.
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