When train brakes are stuck or left on, they apply constant pressure to wheel treads and heat wheels beyond their thermal design limit. This thermal overloading can cause damage to track infrastructure, cracked train wheels, inefficiencies due to drag from unnecessary braking and increases the overall safety risk to those working on the rail network.
The ThermalCAM system uses wayside mounted thermal cameras to monitor the temperature of rolling stock components. When hot wheels are detected, ThermalCAM sends a real-time alert to Network Control. The alert contains information required to enable this inspection, including the train axle number, vehicle ID and location of the offending wheels.The train is stopped so the train driver can visually inspect hot wheels and rectify brake issues.
A total of 16 hot wheel alerts were sent to Network Control between 1 July and 31 October 2020, and insufficiently released brakes were confirmed via inspection in all instances. No false positives have been recorded and all brake issues were rectified, preventing long duration thermal overloading of the wheels.
Arc Infrastructure Head of Network Operations Rod Smith said the ThermalCAM system had delivered strong results and a solution to the problem of thermal overloading.
“We were experiencing recurring issues with stuck brakes on freight wagons and wanted to find a way to minimise the risk to our rail network and rolling stock due to stuck brake incidents. The ThermalCAM system installed at Millendon has proven to be reliable and helped us detect hot wheels early on in the train journey so we can rectify these issues before they cause damage,” Mr Smith said.
The ThermalCAM system is a product designed by Wabtec Corporation
, who are acknowledged as an industry leader in providing solutions for predictive monitoring and maintenance of rolling stock.