Can state-of-the-art computer simulation models of rail and train vibration help improve predictive maintenance and fault diagnosis? A team from the SMRT-NTU Corp Lab believes so and is currently developing detailed dynamic models of SMRT trackforms. The objective is to develop capabilities for performing vibration analysis to better understand and predict the mechanical behavior of train and railway interactions.
It is well known that many mechanisms that lead to component damage or breakdown of railways and trains are mechanical in nature. For example, vibration-induced fatigue leads to cracks in rails and breakages of components. Vibration resonance causes excessive stresses at joints and fasteners. Also, vibration is a source of noise in trains and the surrounding environment.
Current approaches to fault diagnosis are mainly empirical in nature, backed up by on-site measurements. A good computer model can characterize the sources of vibration, the mechanism of its transmission, and predict potential modes of failure. The new approach will deepen the understanding of damage mechanisms in SMRT rails and wheel-rail contact. This is also important in guiding vibration condition monitoring in terms of interpreting the vibration data being collected.
Figure 1: Vibration-related issues in railways
Computer finite element models are being built that can be used for dynamic loading and vibration analysis.
Figure 2: 3D FEM models of the track-form structure
The team hopes that this initiative will allow for faster and more accurate fault diagnosis, and more effective solutions for smoother running and quieter trains.
Figure 3: A simulation showing one of the modes of vibration of the railway track when excited.
Figure 4: A 3D model of the third rail (power rail) for vibration analysis