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A robotic approach for NDT of RCF cracks in rails using an ACFM sensor

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With increased axle weight and faster trains, the need for routine inspection of rails becomes much more important. The approaches currently being used in the rail industry are either inspection trains, dual-purpose road/track vehicles or hand-held trolleys using ultrasonic, eddy current, alternating current field measurement (ACFM) or magnetic flux leakage sensors. The vehicle-mounted systems generally provide information on defect locations but less robust data about defect sizes, which can be provided by hand-held systems. In this research, a robotic system has been proposed for the detection and characterisation of rolling contact fatigue (RCF) cracks on in-service rail tracks, which is designed to locate and then systematically scan the defects to provide more detailed data on the cracks. The system consists of a mechanised trolley, an FS02N Kawasaki robot arm and a commercially available AMIGO ACFM system, supplied by TSC Inspection Systems. This paper outlines the experimental results when the trolley is stationary and the robot arm is used to survey the rail head. It has been shown that the proposed system has the potential to improve the quality of RCF crack characterisation and could be used to autonomously inspect the rail tracks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2011

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