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Dr Ilaria Corni


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A project sponsored by Innovate UK carried out in collaboration with Scantron Industrial Products Ltd. This 2 year project is due to finish in March 2021.

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The first aim of this Innovate funded project is to develop an instrument, the BEARING-EYE with our partners, Scantron. The BEARING-EYE will be  able to measure accurately the rolling contact fatigue (RCF) damage found in bearings. The data will be processed and interpreted by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software platform, developed in close partnership with the nC2 support. This innovative and smart software will be used to evaluate and define at the push of a button, the severity of the damage.

The BEARING-EYE will be able to measure the amount of RCF damage found in rail axle bearings removed from service and also from bearings run in the bearing test rig (see figure). The surface damage will be measured at specific intervals. The repeat of this process will give an insight on the propagation of rolling contact fatigue in rail axle bearings. This information will be passed to our partners, Scantron for further developing this novel RCF evaluation tool.

While running the bearings in the laboratory, the vibrations generated will be recorded using a condition monitoring (CM) system produced by Perpetuum Ltd with the aim to determine a relationship between vibration and damage – this is the second aim of the project.


Scanning system


The Scantron’s BEARING-EYE is a custom developed scanning system, combining high integrity, precision mechanics, high speed electronics and the latest sensor technologies.

Surface topology data, provided by a HD camera system, along with nanometer precision non-contact line laser and chromatic aberration sensors are capable of providing millions of data points per second.


Two non-contact sensors are able to measure the surface topology of the entire bearing surface. A chromatic aberration sensor, that can measure to ~10 nm vertical resolution, is complemented by a line laser sensor capable of capturing millions of data points per second. The system is also equipped with an optical camera for white-light imaging of the bearing.

BEARING-EYE scan data

The bearing test rig

The bearing test rig is a new state of the art instrument owned by Perpetuum Ltd and housed at the University of Southampton. It is able to run rail axle bearings at speeds and loads similar to those of the rail environment. While running, vibration data are collected using sensors provided by Perpetuum Ltd.This will allow us to create damge which can be measured with the BEARING-EYE.

Ilaria working on the bearing test rig

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