Perth-based engineering business Lynxrail has secured a contract to install its Automated Train Examiner (ATEx) technology on the new Roy Hill rail line 33km from Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Lynxrail says its ATEx uses leading edge optics, electronics and machine vision algorithms to assess the condition of key rolling stock components while the trains are running in service. Kris Kilian, the company’s founder and CEO, has been developing this technology since the 1990s.
“We started with an idea to extend the life of the aging ore car fleets that were being used in the Pilbara at the time,” Kilian said this week.
“To do this we had to have detailed information on the condition of key ore car components and we started taking photos of those components to develop a history of each vehicle.
“We have come a long way since then and the product that we will be using for Roy Hill is the result of thousands of hours of development work in the past 18 years.”
Roy Hill will use Lynxrail’s Wheel Profile Monitor, Brake Shoe Monitor and the Hunting and Tracking Monitor. Lynxrail will also provide a RailBam acoustic bearing monitor from Adelaide company TrackIQ, which ‘listens’ for faulty wheel bearings to complement the other technology.
“The optics are mounted at sleeper level and on small towers adjacent to the track,” Kilian explained.
“We take high precision measurements of rolling stock wheels to assess their spacing and speed, and to survey their dynamic behaviour. At the same time the system synchronises the cameras and strobes to develop the optimal triggering strategy for obtain pictures of the components at normal operational speeds.
“Three high definition images of each wheel are captured at different angles, as well as two images of the brake shoe. These images are processed on site and arranged in a database according to the vehicle number and train by using Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) technology.”
Lynxrail’s machine vision algorithms measure key parameters such as flange thickness and brake shoe thickness.
Information is stored in a database available for viewing via a web-based viewer, and any critical components that are deemed to be unsafe are reported immediately via email to Roy Hill.
Roy Hill’s manager of rollingstock maintenance, Bruce Brymer, said it was critical for the project to keep maintenance costs down, and to extend ore car wheel life.
“Wheels are one of the biggest costs in a railway,” Brymer said. “At Roy Hill we are starting a new operation and we plan to maximise the life of our wheelsets. The ATEx and the RailBam will complement our Wheel Impact Load Detectors and Hot Bearing Detectors and provide continuous condition monitoring data for these key areas.
“This data will allow Roy Hill to confirm bogie performance is meeting design expectations and wheel wear is within the target range to achieve the predicted wheel life for the railway.”