SAFE On-Line

Full title: Sensor Technology for Damage Monitoring of Wheelset Axles in Rolling Stock

Type: European Fund and the State of NRW for Regional Development (EFRE)

Duration: 01/05/2017 to 30/04/2020


The formation of damages at wheelset axles on rolling stock are incalculable and unpredictable events while the initial detection is indispensable to repair the damaged vehicle. Up to now, the axles are examined in order to find the cracks during the common maintenance intervals using the conventional ultrasonic inspection, which represents an intensive expenditure of time and fees for the operator. The project “SAFE On-Line” covers the development of a software and hardware architecture for a sensoring system to monitor the damages of wheelset axles. The new measurement system and analysis method is based on “Ultrasonic Guided Waves” and “Principal Component Analysis”.

For the railway operators, the successful development of such a system would mean a significant technological progress in several aspects, since the execution of conventional proceedings and tests are stationary and still represent a complex testing state. In consequence of the permanent observation of the wheelset axle, there is potential for an increase in safety level, considerable cost and resource savings for maintenance (CBM = Condition-Based Maintenance), and higher train availability. In particular, the ultrasound tests carried out regularly in the maintenance workshops today could be substituted by the new sensor technology.

Actually, the main challenges of the project lie on the experimental verification of the functionality of the sensor system, since the measuring technology must be validated for the demanding operating environments of the wheel set (shocks, moisture, dirt, temperatures ...). Further key aspects of this project are energy-efficient signal generation, measuring point management, the associated data acquisition, transmission and evaluation.

Besides the gain in know-how within the SMEs, the region NRW also profits from the creation of new jobs, since all activities from research to application development, device manufacture as well as equipment services are carried out by NRW-based institutes or companies and their employees.

Partners of the three-year joint project, which started on 1st May 2017 and which is successfully competed in the leading market competition MobilitätsLogistik.NRW, are the Bombardier Transportation GmbH, the University of Siegen with the two chairs “Technical Mechanics” and “Embedded Systems”, the SONDEV GmbH and the W.S. Werkstoff Service GmbH, as well as Alpha Trains Europa GmbH.

Therefore, the department of Embedded Systems is aiming at researching and developing the measurement technology and safety architecture in both fields software and hardware. In short, our expertise in the field FPGA / Embedded Controllers will lead us to further contribute in the implementation of the tests and validation of programs to provide evidence of "functional safety".