Axles & Gearboxes: ultrasonic inspection systems for train wheels

Developed by IK4-IDEKO together with CAF Wheels, The first device contributes to increased safety in rail transport, as it makes it possible to detect RADIAL defects in the rolling band. the second system is a positioner that will allow measuring of residual tensions in the wheels. This is a crucial parameter for safety, since excessive residual stresses can cause cracking during service.

The Basque technology centre  IK4-IDEKO has developed an ultrasonic inspection system together with the train manufacturer CAF Wheels, Axles & Gearboxes. This system secures a sound condition of train wheels and is thus a significant contribution to rail transport safety.

The device was delivered to CAF recently with the purpose of becoming an approved supplier of rolling stock (wheels, axles and wheelsets) in Italy, as it meets the demanding certification standards of this country. This, of course, greatly enhances its market position.

Moreover, this device allows the inspection to be carried out on all manufactured wheels prior to assembly, using state-of-the-art pulse-echo ultrasound and tandem techniques to detect defects on the entire thickness of the wheel tread.

The high flexibility and modularity make that the system can easily be adapted to different geometries and sizes of railway wheels.

On the other hand, the positioning device for measuring residual stress, also developed together with CAF, allows to tackle one of the main problems of these measurements as the residual stress varies significantly with depth.

The system is simple in design, easy to operate and precise, which makes it possible to use it during both the manufacturing period and the measurements to be performed during the maintenance cycle.

After completing the design of both systems and checking correct operation, experts from the technology centre have trained staff who will use the system.

 The development of this device was made possible thanks to the specialisation of IK4-IDEKO in NDT. This field requires skilled professionals who meet stringent approval standards with international certification. The inspection and measurement division is one of the main areas of research of the technology centre, a benchmark company in the Basque Country in Advanced Manufacturing.