A condition monitoring test rig which monitors vibration and temperature of bearings and gears in gearboxes and axles has cut maintenance costs on trains, and costs significantly less than installing complex onboard monitoring systems.
Local public transport with regional rail vehicles is part of a railway operator’s core business in Asia. Low maintenance costs and high train availability are crucial factors for the operator. Any downtime or delays can mean considerable costs and financial penalties. To ensure the best possible availability, the gearboxes and wheels of all the wheelsets of a train, including its axle and gearbox bearings, are regularly inspected, overhauled or replaced. The customer was therefore looking for a solution that would ensure the reliability and accuracy of checks, while also minimising the downtimes of the trains.
With its special condition monitoring test rig for railway gearboxes and axlebox bearings, Schaeffler implemented a cost effective solution optimised for the customer’s specific application. Schaeffler SmartCheck sensors are simply attached to the components to be monitored using magnets and undertake precise measurements of vibration and temperature without a requirement for further installation outlay. Components monitored include gears in gearboxes, gearbox bearings, wheel axles and axlebox bearings.
The sensors are directly connected via a Schaeffler SmartController to the input and output terminals such as an HMI touchscreen control panel, an external monitor, and alarm and data processing systems. The axles are driven by means of an integrated electric motor for the test runs. In addition, the system can reliably check whether the bearings were correctly mounted, for example, after bearing replacement. Parameters monitored include vibration, temperature, speed and bearing end position.
For the customer, the integrated solution for the inspection of gearboxes and wheelsets is an important tool in eliminating unplanned downtimes and mal-functions in rail applications. The in-vestment in the test rig is also significantly lower compared to the cost of complex onboard monitoring systems, which are often used in long distance trains.
The customer is also beneitting from reliable and very precise condition monitoring, with simple and full integration to the customer’s infrastructure. The system offers user-friendly and efficient operation, enabling inspection of gearboxes without dismantling and changing the oil, and inspection of bearings without dismounting and replacing the seals. It also enables a mounting check after maintenance or replacement of bearings.
Unplanned downtime of trains can always result in direct and indirect costs for rail operators. The reputation of the operator can also be damaged, particularly in public transport applications. In this particular case, there is an additional significant risk because any downtime or delays in rail traffic is penalised in the form of severe financial penalties stipulated by national regulations. Following the positive experience with Schaeffler’s test rig, the customer is now planning to use the system at other locations.