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Predictive maintenance of rail traction motors

18 December 2018

Ian Pledger, Service Engineer at Schaeffler UK, describes the results of a series of studies involving depot-based condition monitoring of railway traction motors using underfloor wheel lathes. These studies have proved that simple vibration-based parameters are often sufficient in providing very reliable indications of motor condition.

Rail operators are increasingly adopting Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) to monitor railway assets, including equipment condition onboard the train as it operates in-service, in order to predict which parts are likely to fail and when. In this way, maintenance can be planned and there is an opportunity to change only those parts that are showing signs of deterioration or damage. 

However, while the use of RCM is receiving much attention, Schaeffler UK has investigated whether depot-based vibration measurements, using an underfloor wheel lathe to rotate the wheelset, could be used to assess the condition of the traction motor and gearbox. Working closely with different fleet operators, Schaeffler adopted this unique approach by using vibration measurements to assess the condition of traction motors without the need to remove equipment from the bogie. Six studies were undertaken on high-speed passenger trains involving a wide range of traction motor makes and sizes, from 8MW high speed trains down to light rail-vehicles.

Read the full article in the January issue of DPA



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