focuses on a specific high-speed application of automated ultrasonic testing in
the railroad industry. Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) sponsored
by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has researched, helped develop,
and tested an automated cracked wheel detection system (ACWDS) capable of
inspecting railcar wheels on moving trains. The system implements arrays of
spring-loaded ultrasonic probes aligned within a segment of a special track.
Validation of the system was performed using the heavy axle load (HAL) test
train (consisting of about 120 cars, each car weighing 39-ton axle load). This
train operates nightly at the high tonnage loop (HTL) located at the Facility
for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST), TTC near Pueblo, CO, and accumulates
service wear at a rapid rate.
Attendees will learn how biweekly inspections using the automated cracked wheel detection system (ACWDS) were performed to detect wheel defects and, once the wheels were alarmed, conventional handheld UT tests were conducted to confirm the ACWDS findings. To date, the verification hand scans have been in close agreement with the ACWDS reports. Some of these wheels were tracked over time to gain insight into crack growth rates. Others were removed if deemed a safety risk to operations.