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Innovations set to revolutionise QR National safety

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> In a QR National first, an innovative mix of new and existing technologies are set to revolutionise chock design and the roll-by process, helping to improve safety and saving time and money in the process. </span> <p>By Jennifer Perry<br /><br /><strong>Chock design in safe and sound</strong><br />One QR National apprentice’s bright idea is helping make applying chocks to electric locos a safer and simpler task.</p> <p>Using chocks to safely secure rolling stock is vitally important however, the old chocking method has been quite unpopular amongst shunters and maintainers because it required bending and squatting, increasing shunters’ and maintainers’ risk of injury.</p> <p>A new “chock rod” – designed by Jilalan Loco Shed apprentice fitter and turner Shaun Abood – is backless, therefore enabling it to fit between the sand nozzle and the wheel and greatly reducing the bending required to place each chock.</p> <p>The wooden chocks are attached to a rod, which in turn is attached by a plastic chain to a bollard, making it is easy to see where chocks are placed. This is helpful to shunters who are often unaware how many chocks are under a locomotive when they come to move it.</p> <p>Abood said his design takes into account the difference in wheel diameters, clearance of sand piping and traction rods, and is suitable for use inside and outside the locomotive shed.</p> <p>“The new design factors in weight and strength, and the fact that the component must not be damaged if a chock is run over,” he said, adding that in the case of the chock rod, a damaged chock can be easily replaced.</p> <p>Jilalan Locomotive superintendent Paul Butterworth said the new chock design was faster and easier to remove, allowing two chocks to be removed safely at a time. The device could be used on flat ground or an elevated pit, and is stored neatly next to the bollard when not in use.</p> <p>After demonstrating his new chock system at a pre-start brief and receiving an enthusiastic response, Abood and the rest of the apprentices have now embarked on mass production of the new chocks.</p> <p>“This is a great example of someone thinking outside the box to make a change that not only speeds up a process but, more importantly, makes it safer,” Butterworth said.</p> <p><strong>Jilalan lets nothing pass it by</strong><br />Traditionally, QR National has used a person standing beside the track armed with a clipboard and a form to record any obvious defects with rolling stock as it passed by. To enable this review, the trains must slow to 10 km/h so that the person conducting the roll-by has sufficient time to observe a defect and then record it against a wagon number.</p> <p>However, the design of the new Jilalan Yard Upgrade required a new approach because QRNational Coal would no longer be able to slow trains to 10 km/hr on the bypass roads.</p> <p>Between QRNational Coal and QR Network it was found there were existing wayside systems to provide information on over-heated wheel bearings, flat wheels, brakes not applied and dragging equipment.</p> <p>There was also an Acoustic Bearing Detector which used microphones to listen to the sound of the wheel bearings and then used this information to predict future bearing failures.</p> <p>The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when QRNational Coal completed the installation of the brake pad examiner.</p> <p>This examiner uses video-imaging technology to take a photo of each brake on every coal wagon as it passes the site. Cameras mounted beside the track use a shutter speed of 1/16000th-of-a-second and high-intensity strobe lights to capture images of the brakes as they pass by at 80 km/hr.</p> <p>Having the image is only half the picture.&nbspAdvances in computing power make it possible to process the images on site. Sophisticated analysis algorithms can measure the thickness of the brake pads in the images. If a pad is less than 10mm a report is generated and this can then be used to identify brakes that require replacing at the next Reliability Examination (RE).</p> <p>“This new Brake Pad Examiner, together with the other existing equipment, now provides us with good information on the health of the train as it passes by at speed,” QR National manager fleet development Ted McLeod said.</p> <p>“This not only removes people from the potential risks associated with conducting a manual roll-by trackside, but it also cuts cycle times, improves the quality of our data collection, and reduces maintenance times and costs by focusing on just what needs to be done.</p> <p>”It is hoped the new system now in place at Jilalan will eventually be extended throughout the QR National business.&quot</p> <p>Benefits include:<br />&bull&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp improved safety by removing the need to have someone stand beside the track in the elements for the passage of every train</p> <p>&bull&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp improved cycle times by not having to slow a coal train from a line speed of 80 km/h to 10 km/h for the manual roll-by</p> <p>&bull&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp improved data collection with the use of high-speed computers to collect and store information on the health of the rolling stock and</p> <p>&bull&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp significantly reduced costs in brake shoes by changing brake pads&nbsponly&nbspwhen they are at end of their life.</p> <p>&nbsp</p>