Ultrasound inspection systems

Subject to the continuous expansion of high-speed rail networks, demands are increasing with regard to the quality of train wheels, which have to reliably resist extreme stresses when in motion. In Germany, to assure safe train travel, the Eisenbahn Bundesamt (Railroad Company) specifies that parts have to be inspected for internal defects at regular intervals.

In the past, the department has implemented various solution systems in close collaboration with customers, particularly for the railroad industry:

Underfloor inspection facility (UFPE): to carry out the prescribed ultrasound inspections on wheel sets for high-speed trains both affordably and effectively, an ultrasound inspection system has been developed under the management of the Deutsche Bahn system technology department in collaboration with Fraunhofer IZFP, which is capable of inspecting wheels that are still mounted to the train. This has major advantages, especially as far as driven wheel sets are concerned, because the wheels no longer have to be removed. This drastically shortens the amount of time a train has to spend in a maintenance center.

Hollow-shaft inspection system (HPS): HPS is an ultrasound inspection device for evaluating train wheel shafts with borings of different diameters. The shafts of the wheel sets are automatically assessed internally by ultrasound for volumetric and surface defects. The jacket of the boring is inspecting using a contact method. The average testing time is less than 15 minutes per shaft.

Wheel rim solid shaft inspection system (RVP): RVP is a system for inspecting both wheel rims and solid shafts in a single step. The mechanics of the system are designed for inspecting disassembled rail wheel rims with a measured diameter of 620 mm to 1050 mm. It consists of a rolling testing stand, a steel gantry and a central z-axis and is equipped with a sensor module at each side to inspect the wheel rim and solid shaft.

Ultrasound rail wheel inspection system (RWI): under the management of Fraunhofer IPA, an automated ultrasound inspection system has been developed for the manufacturers of rail wheels and rail tires. The system is ideally suited for integration into existing qualification processes. Depending on the wheel size, cycle times of less than 1 minute can be achieved. As an option, ultrasound inspections can also be performed on the wheel hub and disk.

Automated wheel set inspection system (AURA-NT): AURA-NT has been designed for inspecting the wheel rims and disks of rail vehicles after removal of the wheels. The mechanics of the system enable its interchangeable and fixed sensing heads to be positioned exactly on the inner face and tread of the wheels. The wheel sets requiring inspection are also rotated automatically in a defined manner.