Roy Hill project adds ATEx technology for rail line
Perth-based engineering company Lynxrail has secured a contract to install its Automated Train Examiner (ATEx) technology on the Roy Hill iron ore project rail line in Western Australia. The contract with Lynxrail aims to use cutting-edge optics, electronics and machine vision algorithms to assess the conditions of key rolling stock components while trains are running in service.
The Roy Hill project will incorporate services such as Wheel Profile Monitor, Brake Shoe Monitor and the Hunting and Tracking Monitor, as well as an acoustic bearing monitor (RailBam), which ‘listens’ for faulty wheel bearings.
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“Wheels are one of the biggest costs in a railway,” said Roy Hill’s Manager of Rollingstock Maintenance Bruce Brymer.
“At Roy Hill we are starting a new operation and we plan to maximize the life of our wheelsets. The ATEx and the RailBam will complement our Wheel Impact Load Detectors and Hot Bearing Detectors and provide continuous condition monitoring data for these key areas. This data will allow Roy Hill to confirm bogie performance is meeting design expectations and wheel wear is within the target range to achieve the predicted wheel life for the railway.”
At Roy Hill, optics will be mounted at sleeper level and on small towers adjacent to the railway track in order to take high precision measurements of rolling stock wheels to assess spacing and speed, as well as behavior.
According to Lynxrail, the system synchronizes the cameras and strobes to develop the optimal triggering strategy [to] obtain pictures of the components at normal operational speeds.
“Three high definition images of each wheel are captured at different angles, as well as two images of the brake shoe. These images are processed on site and arranged in a database according to the vehicle number and train by using Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) technology. Sophisticated machine vision algorithms measure key parameters such as flange thickness and brake shoe thickness. This information is stored in a database available for viewing via a web-based viewer, and any critical components that are deemed to be unsafe are reported immediately via email to Roy Hill.”
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Lynxrail’s founder and CEO, Kris Kilian, said the company has been developing the technology since the early 1990s.
“We started with an idea to extend the life of the aging ore car fleets that were being used in the Pilbara at the time,” Kilian said.
“To do this we had to have detailed information on the condition of key ore car components and we started taking photos of those components to develop a history of each vehicle.
“We have come a long way since then and the product that we will be using for Roy Hill is the result of thousands of hours of development work in the past 18 years.”
Located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the $10 billion Roy Hill project is expected to produce 55 million tons annually through an integrated mine, rail and port operation.