While the Australian economy is enjoying a fortunate position due to the thriving mining industry, research and technology have been integral factors which have enabled the mining industry to reach its current position.
As part of one of the main technology service providers for the railway industry, the personnel at the Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) at Monash University have been supporting the mining industry’s railway operations over the last four decades. IRT is continuously developing new technologies to support increasing productivity and safety requirements at the same time as reducing risks and costs, ultimately improving the bottom line of their clients.
The latest technology IRT has developed is the instrumented revenue vehicle which is a fully flexible automated measurement platform to continuously monitor and provide feedback on both rail condition and train operation. This technology is designed to be installed in standard vehicles which are embedded within a normal operation.
The IRT instrumented vehicle technology has several key advantages over previous maintenance inspection methods. With the objective of increasing production rates, mining operations are often under pressure to reduce railway track downtime. The ramifications of reducing track downtime are that it would minimize traditional track measurements and maintenance activities. This could result in a significant increase in operational risks because of a lack of maintenance and an inability to identify deterioration of track condition in a timely manner.
IRT’s instrumented vehicle technology measures the condition of a railway system during normal rail operations without requiring any track downtime. In addition, IRT’s technology measures the dynamic responses of normal vehicles during loaded and empty operating conditions under standard speed profiles. Unlike previous track recording vehicle measurements, IRT technology measurements are a direct indication of the loads being imposed on the rail network in a usual operating environment.
By Ravi Ravitharan*
It is also important to note that the information collected using the IRT’s instrumented vehicletechnology is available for railway operations within a twelve hour period. It is anticipated that in the near future real time reporting of track and train related issues would be also available.
The above technology is widely used in railway systems in mining operations and now available to all railway operations including passenger and freight, to assist with both track and rolling stock management.
The IRT instrumented vehicle technology measurements have shown an excellent correlation with track inspector findings. Now these measurements are being used extensively for track maintenance activities, and to restrict line speed to mitigate damage to and risk from deterioration of the track structure.
Assessment of the effectiveness of maintenance operations, operational planning and maintenance programming are other benefits of the new technology IRT has developed.
IRT’s instrumented vehicle technology has also been used for analysis of train driving strategies and in-train forces, train driver training, derailment investigations, analysis of the dynamic effect on bridges, dumper indexing for minimization of coupler loads and assistance with the design of new rolling stock.
IRT, the premier track and vehicle railway engineering research centre in Australia, focuses on developing new technologies that could be integrated into existing processes to provide rail operators with the ability to effectively manage their resources.
*Ravi Ravitharan is director, Institute of Railway Technology, Monash University
Heavy Haul Rail
28th – 29th August 2012 | City Hall Newcastle
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