The first aim of this Innovate UK funded project is to develop an instrument, the BEARING-EYE, with our partner Scantron Industrial Products Ltd. The BEARING-EYE has now been developed and it is able to measure accurately the rolling contact fatigue (RCF) damage found in rail axle bearings. The data recorded are 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 can 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 partner, 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.
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.
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. By using this rig we will be able to create damage, which can be measured with the BEARING-EYE, to better understand the propagation of rolling contact fatigue in rail axle bearings.