Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Digitalisation, Operations & Maintenance, Rollingstock & Manufacturing, Signalling & Communications, Track & Civil Construction

Safety and reliability with rail vehicle testing

rail vehicle testing

Rail vehicle testing plays a vital role in developing and operating modern railway systems. By implementing advanced test and measurement equipment, engineers and operators can gather precise data and analyse various parameters to ensure the safety, reliability and optimal performance of rail vehicles.

Test and measurement serve as a fundamental pillar in assessing and monitoring the performance of rail vehicles. It is essential because rail vehicles such as locomotives, passenger coaches, freight wagons and high-speed trains can be subjected to various operating conditions and environmental factors.

Regular testing and assessment can identify potential design flaws, evaluate components, assess structural integrity and verify its compliance with safety standards. These exercises can identify potential areas for improvement by evaluating critical operational parameters to enhance the overall quality and efficiency of the rail transportation system.

Rail vehicle testing can encompass on-track testing or on a test-bench. For on-track testing of rail vehicles, data acquisition must be decentralized, distributed and synchronized as measurement points may extend up to thousands of measurement channels. Furthermore, engineers working in the rail sectors demand robust and durable data acquisition hardware that can be supported with intelligent software solutions for data reporting and analysis and delivering results in real-time.

Bestech Australia supplies measurement systems and solutions to support demanding requirements in the rail industry, from on-road monitoring and maintenance testing, including prototype and component testing, noise/vibration analysis and condition monitoring.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Continuous monitoring and maintenance efforts are essential for ensuring the smooth operation of rail systems, maximising passenger comfort, and adhering to regulatory standards. The testing involves data collection and analysis to assess the performance, condition and reliability of the rail vehicles, intending to ensure optimal operational efficiency and safety.

On-train testing may include testing individual train components, such as temperature and pulling force measurements on brake disks and bolts. Engineers can also use telemetry systems to perform rolling tests on the bogie and wheels.

Off-vehicle testing can encompass off-track measurements on rail infrastructure. Examples are structural testing and wear measurement on rail tracks using strain gauges and laser profile scanners. High-sensitive pressure sensors can also be installed in the tunnel to measure for changes in air pressure, which can lead to optimising train performance by analysing its aerodynamic behaviour and assessing the structural integrity of the tunnel.

Noise and Vibration Analysis

Rail engineers conduct vibration testing and analyze noise and vibration data to ensure safety and passenger ride quality. Excessive noise and vibration can indicate abnormalities in the components of the rolling stocks and structural integrity of the rail infrastructure, such as tracks, bridges and tunnels. Regular monitoring and testing can detect and identify potential failures, allowing them to perform timely maintenance to prevent accidents or derailments.

Testing examples may include brake noise, wind noise and pass-by noise measurement. Engineers might also consider performing human vibration measurements and analysing the rail coach’s resonance frequency to ensure the customers’ comfort and riding quality. The safety of the train coach can be ensured by vibration testing and FFT analysis on the bearings and electric drives.

Rail Condition Monitoring

Condition monitoring of rail infrastructure utilizes an array of sensors, transducers and monitoring systems in critical measurement points for monitoring the health of the assets in real time. Laser profile scanners can be mounted on the test bogie, equipped with GPS and an onboard data acquisition system to monitor the wear and tear on the rail track. The exact location of the track that requires maintenance can be marked. This allows the operation personnel to close that section of the track for repair with minimal disturbance.

Rail testing requires decentralised measurement systems consisting of distributed local amplifiers, data logging and storage, as the measurement points can be distributed within or outside the train. Recording fieldbus information, such as delivered by the multifunction vehicle bus (MVB), provides capabilities for streamlining data transmission between the complex measurement system. Sensors and amplifiers can be flexibly arranged and reduce the complexity of installation and cabling requirement.

Bestech supplies the modular CRONOSflex measurement systems, offering modular network-based architecture for this measurement application. The CRONOSflex system can handle synchronised measurements from the MVB and analog signals, such as mechanical strain, acceleration and temperature. Whether for measurements on a few channels or complete verification testing for a high-speed train that can cover up to 1500 channels, the imc CRONOSflex system ensures the quality and reliability of the measurement.

Data collected from multiple sensors at different locations can be processed online and subjected to joint calculation. Therefore, engineers can capture the operational status of whole assemblies and simultaneously analyse the raw data while running the test drive. This real-time analysis capability allows for timely intervention during the test process.

Results from complex measurements with large channel counts can be displayed and organized for ease of viewing and data analysis. This is possible as the imc data acquisition hardware can be integrated with imc STUDIO software, offering custom configuration to suit any engineering testing requirement.

The new imc STUDIO software is now more user-intuitive and user-friendly due to guided video tours and the ability to experiment with simulated datasets. It can now also support comprehensive NVH testing for rail applications due to its integration with imc WAVE analyser function to offer inline calculation. Users can also visualise live data on multiple PCs for large-scale measurement applications.

Bestech’s data acquisition and measurement systems are specifically designed for industrial measurement tasks. Hence, they can be directly mounted on the bogie train for rail testing. The systems are designed to operate in any environmental condition and can tolerate continuous mechanical shock.

The engineers at Bestech Australia offer extensive test and measurement experience and are factory-trained for sensors and data acquisition systems. Whether it’s a one-off individual sensor or complete turnkey measurement solution, its specialists provide full technical support to assist in getting accurate and reliable data in testing applications.