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Listening in on the bearings
05/01/2012 | Channel:
South West Trains has launched its second RailBAM® device at Mortlake near Richmond.
This device can diagnose potential technical problems with trains, by listening to them as they pass in traffic. The system, called RailBAM®, monitors 300 trains a day on the busy Wessex Route which carries South West Trains services between London, Southampton and Weymouth. The system – the second permanent application of this technology in Europe after Swaythling near Southampton – employs an array of sensitive microphones mounted at the side of the track that listen to every individual axle bearing on each train as it passes by.
Information on how the bearings sound is filtered before being fed back via a secure data link to a database in real time. Sound analysis allows tiny bearing defects to be identified months before they become a problem.
When a train approaches the site, wheel detectors trigger the commencement of the data acquisition process. Data is collected via an array of sensitive microphones (located behind automatically opening protective shutters) to record the sound emitted by bearings and wheels. The technology will allow South West Trains fleet to further improve their fleet reliability – already operating some of the most reliable trains in the country to even higher standards by reducing technical problems even further.