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September 2016

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Perspective: Wheel Shop Automation Improves Maintenance Operations

A look at one of Simmons' automated wheel shops
Photo – Simmons Machine Tool Corp.


Wheel shop automation technology is increasingly vital to improving railway and shop safety while simultaneously cutting costs and enhancing productivity with existing employees. Simmons Machine Tool Corp. continues to be a leader and innovator in this field, building off of our decades of experience supporting maintenance facilities for freight and transit railways.

Automated material handling — using technology such as programmable robots, overhead gantry cranes, escapements and turntables — decreases operator interaction with machines and wheel set components. Our automated machine cells, like the recently installed Automated Bearing Mount Cell which uses a programmable robot to handle bearings, reduce machine cycle times while keeping the operators safer.

Measurement machines, like the WSM-440 Wheel Set Measuring System, automatically collect a wide range of wheel set data to better evaluate the condition of wheel set components. In an integrated machine cell or shop, this same data can be routed to other machines for more precise operations like wheel boring, wheel and axle machining, and other wheel shop activities.

These new technologies are applicable to brand new maintenance facilities as well as established shops and can be retrofitted to existing machinery. It even extends to machines like the Stanray Underfloor Wheel Truing Machine, which has been an integral part of locomotive wheel truing shops for decades.

The new Automatic Cutter Alignment (ACA) system automatically aligns the milling cutters to the ideal cutting position, limiting the amount of metal being removed from the wheel during wheel truing. A properly re-profiled wheel also decreases the chance for wheel flange climb derailments. The easily calibrated system's repeatability decreases the need for the operator to be near the vehicle during the wheel truing process and limits operator error.

Simmons continues to refine and expand these automation technologies, with the goal of increased safety and decreased cost coupled with our reputation as the manufacturer of rugged and dependable wheel shop equipment.

Submitted by Simmons Machine Tool Corp. View Simmons' video channel here.


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