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Track Health Monitoring Using Wavelets

[+] Author Affiliations
Brad M. Hopkins, Saied Taheri

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Paper No. RTDF2010-42004, pp. 9-15; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 Rail Transportation Division Fall Technical Conference
  • ASME 2010 Rail Transportation Division Fall Technical Conference
  • Roanoke, Virginia, USA, October 12–13, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4406-9 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3889-1
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


This paper presents a defect detection algorithm for rail health monitoring that could potentially be used with limited bogie. Current wheel and track monitoring requires expensive track instrumentation and/or time consuming operation of railway monitoring vehicles. The proposed health monitoring algorithm can potentially be used with a portable data acquisition system that can be relocated from train to train to monitor and diagnose the conditions of the track as a train is driven during typical day-to-day operation. The algorithm processes the data using wavelets and is able to locate defects and provide information that may help to distinguish between various types of rail defects. In recent years, wavelets have been used extensively in signal processing because of their ability to analyze a signal simultaneously in the time and frequency domains. The Fourier transform has been used traditionally in signal processing to locate dominant frequencies in a signal, but it is unable to provide time localization of those frequencies. Unlike the Fourier transform, the wavelet transform uses a set of basis functions with finite energy, which is advantageous for detecting the irregular events that may show up in a transient signal. The wavelets used in the proposed signal processing routine were chosen for optimal signal decomposition through consideration of the signals that are likely to be generated from common rail and wheel defects, including rail cracks, squats, corrugation, and, wheel out-of-rounds. A sample accelerometer signal was generated from information found in existing literature and was then processed using the proposed defect detection algorithm. Results show the potential of this algorithm to locate and diagnose defects from limited bogie vertical acceleration data. This study is intended to present a proof-of-concept for the proposed defect detection algorithm, providing a basis for which a more comprehensive defect detection and diagnosis algorithm can be developed.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Wavelets



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