ProPhotonix recently developed a custom laser module for a rail wheel inspection application as part of the WheelWATCHER project (funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program). The high-performance, pulsed laser generates a high-uniformity laser line at 808nm with a peak output power of 450mW and incorporates digital monitoring and control. This blog post will outline key aspects of the development of the laser for this challenging application.
Train Wheel Inspection – Application Overview
Wheels are the most loaded components of railway vehicles and in order to ensure safety, regular maintenance is needed to check for compliance with international safety standards. This project aimed to develop a vision system to accurately measure physical conditions (wheel thickness, tread hollowing and tread wear) while the train is operating, thus removing the need for labor intensive manual inspection and enabling a more proactive approach to maintenance.
High precision laser for accurate results
The high-powered custom laser developed for this application can measure as close as to the nearest 0.1mm enabling extremely accurate measurements. Instant access to this level of information allows for a far more predictive and efficient approach to rail safety, which ultimately can extend wheel life by up to 50% while also ensuring wheel replacement when needed.
Monitor and Control via Digital Interface
The user-friendly GUI included with the PROdigii laser offers on/off control, power output control and temperature monitoring among other functions. For the WheelWATCHER project, digital control was designed to be easily integrated with the rail wheel inspection system enabling remote operation. Faults are flagged by the system and engineers can address any issues without disrupting the train service.