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<< Rail News Home: Mechanical

8/6/2004    Freight News

Rail News: Mechanical

U.S. roads to share wayside wheel-health data to prevent accidents, damage

On Oct. 1, U.S. railroads plan to jointly begin using advanced track-side technology and data to warn rail-car owners in advance that one or more wheels are deteriorating.

The roads have proposed a series of changes to the Association of American Railroads' interchange rules to create the Advanced Technology Safety Initiative (ATSI), a predictive and proactive maintenance system designed to employ the best available technology to detect and report potential safety problems and poorly performing equipment before accidents or damage occur.

First, the roads plan to use data from wheel impact load detectors (WILD) — which have existed for about 20 years — to monitor wheel health. When a wheel exerts a peak impact load of 90 "kips" or above, as measured by a WILD site, it will be considered "out of round" and require attention. Currently, there are 67 WILD sites in the U.S. rail network.

"This gives car owners a chance to schedule the wheel replacement and continue the car in service with as little disruption as practical," said Lisa Stabler, Burlington Northern Santa Fe assistant vice president of quality and reliability engineering, in a prepared statement.

AAR is sponsoring a meeting on Aug. 11 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel O'Hare in Rosemont, Ill., to enable all stakeholders in the AAR Car Repair Billing and Interchange system — including railroads, private car owners, leasing companies, contract repair companies and suppliers — to discuss the initiative.

"ATSI gives us a tool to prevent accidents and thereby improve the efficiency of railroad operations," said Robert VanderClute, AAR senior vice president of safety and operations.

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