Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales, requested PCMS Engineering to carry out a multi-technology health check on their fleet of track maintenance support wagons’ axle bearings.
Since 2002 Network Rail has halved the cost of running the railway, driven up its asset reliability to record levels, significantly improved train punctuality and made Britain’s railway the safest in Europe.
Network Rail’s time-based maintenance programme scheduled the wagons axle bearings to be replaced every eight years. Due to the cost of replacing the bearing and the potential unnecessary removal of the wagon from service, the bearing maintenance schedule was to be carried out on condition rather than time-based.
To determine any defect within the axle bearing, a vibration monitoring test was carried out utilising a CSI2140 four channel vibration analyser and data collector. The data was analysed using Emerson’s Process Management Machinery Health Manager software.
In general, the overall health of the bearings across the fleet of wagons were in an acceptable condition although some of the bearings were showing a low frequency activity indicating a lack of lubrication.
The bearings were lubricated, as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, and the deferral of the bearing replacement took place. PCMS Engineering were requested to carry out further testing at set intervals to monitor for any rates of change.
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