Prevention of railroad bearing failures, which may lead to catastrophic derailments, is a central safety concern. Early detection of railway component defects, specifically bearing spalls, will improve overall system reliability by allowing proactive maintenance cycles rather than costly reactive replacement of failing components. A bearing health monitoring system will provide timely detection of flaws. However, absent a well verified model for defect propagation, detection can only be used to trigger an immediate component replacement. The development of such a model requires that the spall growth process be mapped out by accumulating associated signals generated by various size spalls. The addition of this information to an integrated health monitoring system will minimize operation disruption and maintain maximum accident prevention standards enabling timely and economical replacements of failing components. An earlier study done by the authors focused on bearing outer ring (cup) raceway defects. The developed model predicts that any cup raceway surface defect (i.e. spall) once reaching a critical size (spall area) will grow according to a linear correlation with mileage. The work presented here investigates spall growth within the inner rings (cones) of railroad bearings as a function of mileage. The data for this study were acquired from defective bearings that were run under various load and speed conditions utilizing specialized railroad bearing dynamic test rigs owned by the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety (UTCRS) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). The experimental process is based on a testing cycle that allows continuous growth of railroad bearing defects until one of two conditions are met; either the defect is allowed to grow to a size that does not jeopardize the safe operation of the test rig, or the change in area of the spall is less than 10% of its previous size prior to the start of testing. The initial spall size is randomly distributed as it depends on the originating defect depth, size, and location on the rolling raceway. Periodic removal and disassembly of the railroad bearings was carried out for inspection and defect size measurement along with detailed documentation. Spalls were measured using optical techniques coupled with digital image analysis, as well as, with a manual coordinate measuring instrument with the resulting field of points manipulated in MatLab™. Castings were made of spalls using low-melting, zero-shrinkage bismuth-based alloys, so that a permanent record of the spall geometry and its growth history can be retained. The main result of this study is a preliminary model for spall growth, which can be coupled with bearing condition monitoring tools that will allow economical and effective scheduling of proactive maintenance cycles that aim to mitigate derailments, and reduce unnecessary train stoppages and associated costly delays on busy railways.
De Los Santos, N, Tarawneh, CM, Jones, RE, & Fuentes, A. "Defect Prognostics Models for Spall Growth in Railroad Bearing Rolling Elements." Proceedings of the 2018 Joint Rail Conference. 2018 Joint Rail Conference. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. April 18–20, 2018. V001T02A011. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/JRC2018-6214
Proceedings of the 2018 Joint Rail Conference. 2018 Joint Rail Conference