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  • Mobile Solutions Business Division – Europe


Improving the top track structure and using longer rail bars allows heavier train convoys to run, which improves the commercial effectiveness of freight transport. But where these heavier loads are planned, existing locomotives and carriages must be updated and repaired, particularly at those points where the load is greatest – wheels and motor units, electrical engines, box bearings, etc. – regardless of mileage.

Using cassette-type bearings helps to increase the reliability of passenger and freight transport, ensuring far longer mileage between repairs. Equally, mandatory vibration diagnostics of key points on rolling stock reduces possible failure. In the past, however, rail engineers and technicians had little experience of working with these bearings. So they failed to recognise that implementing vibration diagnostics on pairs of wheels with cassette-type bearings without any axial loading meant only large faults which would have a major impact on the vibration of the axle could be detected, meaning testing was inaccurate.

In 2006, LCC DiaTech’s team of specialists, along with scientists at the All-Russian Scientific Institute of Railway Transport, was among the first to create a mathematical model to calculate the frequency ranges and rejection levels that would detect and correctly identify any faults in cassette-type bearings. Using this model, LCC DiaTech developed a range of equipment and software that could carry out the required vibration monitoring of gear transmissions, points, and wheel and cassette-type bearings on all types of rolling stock.

The fully rugged Toughbook CF-U1 and FZ-G1 – the ideal solution for mobile workers carrying our non-destructive testing

An important element in this range of equipment is the mobile version of the portable vibration diagnostics system. This involves the use of a computer which service engineers at Amsted Rail, Inc. and EPK Brenko use in the field for non-destructive testing. The computer of choice was the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1, which delivered positive results over the course of a year, providing highly reliable diagnostic results which were subsequently confirmed when the cassette-type bearings were later dismantled and checked in detail.

Having proven its capability, the Toughbook CF-U1 was deployed at the Gorky-Tsentralny locomotive repair depot, where it was used to vibration-test mounted traction electric motors.

The arrival of the fully rugged Toughpad FZ-G1 presented even more benefits. Because it runs Windows 8 and has the ability to revert to Windows 7, it was ready for use in the testing system right away, without any need for further expenditure on adapting or adding software for registration, processing, storage, analysis and databases.

The optional strap also leaves a worker’s hands free to install transducers during testing, improving efficiency. And the touchscreen cover not only protects the device from aggressive substances such as lubricants and sulphated oils found in motor block engines, but also allows the device to be operated with greasy fingers or even gloves.

Using the Toughpad’s high-speed Bluetooth connection, operators can control testing systems remotely whilst working under the locomotive or at the testing station. Taking this one step further, the Toughpad’s wireless WiFi connectivity means local repair networks could be established, allowing operators to access servers at the diagnosis centre directly, optimising the monitoring process.

Finally, the Toughpad’s rechargeable battery, which delivers 8 hours of uninterrupted work or 12-hour shifts without the need for recharging or replacement, provides significant benefits when compared to analogue mobile systems.