Bearing company SKF’s intelligent bearing technology is being deployed on a railway vehicle in a new project to monitor axle bearings wirelessly.
In cooperation with Swedish national rail operator SJ, SKF recently started to run SKF Insight intelligent bearing technology on a railway vehicle. This pilot project demonstrated several technical and commercial advantages of retrofitting SKF Insight to the wheel set axle box assemblies used in passenger rail vehicles.
These advantages include the ability to improve the in-service availability of passenger rail vehicles, while reducing maintenance costs gradually and safely extending wheel set bearing maintenance intervals.
SKF Insight is a new generation of bearing technology that integrates an intelligent, self-powered sensor and wireless device within a conventional bearing envelope. In the new rail system, this is combined with a node and gateway wireless infrastructure, enabling data from each wheel set to be gathered and transmitted in real time to a remote server for analysis.
The system can easily be retrofitted to existing wheel sets without the need for modification.
This enables railway engineers to move safely from a reactive or scheduled maintenance approach – where bearings are changed at regular intervals regardless of condition – to a predictive maintenance regime, where bearings are only changed when they have reached a defined level of wear.
Other advantages of SKF Insight include the ability to reduce in-service incidents and the costs associated with false hot-box detection.
“Although wireless monitoring systems have been tested in the past, they lack the intelligent, self-powered technology of SKF Insight. Just as importantly, no other supplier has the depth of knowledge and experience found at SKF, as we have been fitting wheel set bearings and manufacturing condition monitoring tools in the rail industry for many years,” says SKF project manager Maurizio Giovannelli.
“This pilot project is a part of SJ’s effort to find new technical solutions,” adds SJ vehicle division technical specialist Pär Söderström. He further notes that SJ is moving towards condition-based maintenance of its vehicles in the future, ensuring improved reliability and cost control. “Here we see a big potential in the wireless technology that SKF offers and that we, together, will evaluate after the pilot,” concludes Söderström.
SKF is a global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems and services, including technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. The company is represented in more than 130 countries and has about 15 000 distributor locations worldwide.