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Rail News: Mechanical

CPR installs "smart" sound technology to predict wheel bearing failure


Canadian Pacific Railway recently installed "smart" technology designed to predict failure in wheel bearings based on sounds emitted by distressed bearings. Capable of reading acoustic signatures of different defects, the new technology will contribute to safer operations and greater fluidity along Canada's busiest rail corridor, CPR officials believe.

Installed trackside about 46 miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Trackside Acoustic Detection System (TADS) is the first of its kind in Canada and only the ninth in the world, according to CPR. Developed by Transportation Technology Center Inc., TADS features acoustic monitoring devices and intelligent analytical software to filter out background noise and identify bearing sounds that signal defects.

"We are very excited about the promise this smart technology holds for making rail operations safer and for generating higher train productivity in Canada's busiest freight corridor," said CPR Senior Vice President of Operations Neal Foot in a prepared statement.The system is located in an area where CPR and Canadian National Railway Co. share each other's track through a directional running agreement. CN will use CPR's TADS in return for CPR's use of a new CN image-mapping device that takes digital images of wheels in passing trains and analyzes their condition.

"In the marketplace, CPR and CN are intense competitors," Foot said. "But when it comes to safety, we are ready to put down the competitive swords."

CPR spent $450,000 to purchase and install the unit.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/6/2004