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Potential improvements of the presently applied in-service inspection of wheelset axles

: Kappes, Wolfgang; Hentschel, Dieter; Oelschlägel, Thomas


International journal of fatigue 86 (2016), S.64-76
ISSN: 0142-1123
European Commission EC
FP7; 265706; EURAXLES
Minimizing the risk of fatigue failure of railway axles
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
Fraunhofer IZFP ()
automation; condition monitoring; non-destructive testing; wheelset axles

Wheelset axles are safety relevant components because they are subject to high dynamic and static loads during operation. Therefore, they have to undergo periodic non-destructive examination to find potential defects before they can lead to failure. Minimizing the risk of fatigue failure for 3.5. million axles, potentially in service in Europe, was the objective of the 3.5. years R&D project EURAXLES which ended in April 2014. EURAXLES aimed to propose a global concept approach for axles design, production, and maintenance. An important objective within Work Package 5 was the analysis of the present status of in-service inspections. The strengths and weaknesses of the presently applied inspection systems and practices were evaluated with the aim to identify potential improvements provided by new technologies. That evaluation was firstly based on the results of a questionnaire which was distributed to the main European railway operators with the request to describe the testing procedures and equipment applied in their maintenance facilities. Secondly, the results of benchmark tests with presently applied ultrasonic inspection equipment were exploited for the analysis. These tests were performed at hollow axles and solid axles with implemented artificial defects.