Perpetuum awarded Innovate UK contract, with Hitachi, GWR and Eversholt, to deliver ground breaking Train Axle Crack Monitoring project

Perpetuum has been awarded a contract by Innovate UK to deliver a ground breaking Train Axle Crack Monitoring (TAMON) project.

The project, which involves installing the proven TAMON concept onto a Great Western Railway Class 802 train, has been awarded by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020 competition.

Train axles are traditionally subjected to regular testing to identify incipient crack failure. This process is very costly and involves taking the train out of service. Studies have also looked at extending inspection intervals and involve concepts such as statistical determination of “Probability of Detection”, but there is significant uncertainty and cost involved in the current approach.

A recent project known as ‘MONAXLE’, led by Perpetuum and in collaboration with TWI and the University of Southampton, has proven the concept in the laboratory of detecting cracks by analysing changes in resonance of the axle caused by cracks as it rotates. Now the TAMON project, a first of its kind and the beneficiary of the Innovate UK award, will install this concept on a passenger train for a final stage of testing and demonstration for the industry. The project is utilising a new version of Perpetuum’s well established self-powered wireless monitoring system that will be able to deliver all the previous monitoring features for wheel, bearing and track monitoring, as well as for axle shafts.

TAMON is expected to bring major benefits, including:

  • Significantly reduced maintenance and inspection costs
  • Direct and live information on axle condition to enable confidence in decision making about actions required
  • Reduced downtime for rolling stock through less frequent inspections giving better availability
  • Fewer unplanned withdrawals from service
  • Enhanced safety and reduction in uncertainties on axle cracks

“We are absolutely delighted to be delivering an industry first with the TAMON project with our partners. We have agreed to do the first installation on the GWR 802 fleet in collaboration with Hitachi, the train builder, Eversholt, the owner, and First Group, the TOC franchisee,” explains Roy Freeland, President of Perpetuum.

“TAMON will fully meet the criteria set out by the SBRI for “Optimised and cost-effective maintenance” including reducing returns to depot, use of pattern-recognition technologies to automate inspections and improved reporting of failures and/or issues by collecting live data whilst in service and continuous reporting,” continues Roy.

“The potential of TAMON is extremely exciting for the rail industry. It will be possible to monitor and report the loads on axles which could give helpful information to passengers waiting to board on where there is least crowding. By eventually extending the application to freight, this capability would enhance safety of freight wagons by reporting eccentric and overloads and may eliminate the need for weigh stations to monitor loads for revenue determination.”

The TAMON project is supported by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) which has said it “would be expected to have a significant positive impact on maintenance programmes and rolling stock availability, while reducing risk and disruption to service.”