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Title:Measurement of vertical and lateral rail displacements using a laser-based monitoring system
Author(s):Jenkins, Zachary
Contributor(s):Hart, John
Degree:B.S. (bachelor's)
Subject(s):railway track displacement
laser triangulation sensor
Abstract:The importance of track health in the rail industry cannot be overstated. Poor track health and monitoring habits lead to unsafe systems where derailments can occur. Derailments are extremely costly for railroads, they can have devastating environmental impacts, and most importantly they have the potential to cause loss of human life. At the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC), many of the projects led by graduate students in civil engineering center around making the track system safer and more reliable. This effort focuses on the collection of data for analysis of track fastening systems by monitoring the rail movement as the train passes by. Senior Research Engineer at RailTEC Marcus Dersch designed a Portable Displacement Measurement Device (PDMD) that uses potentiometers to measure the displacement of certain key points on the rail. These points are in a local area surrounding the fasting system on a single tie. The goal of this project will be to improve upon this current method of measuring rail displacement. While yielding useful data, there is a certain amount of "noise" recorded by the potentiometers due to the power supply as well as ambient noise sources, such as loading picked up from the other rail from the potentiometer cables where the device has been deployed during testing. The direct contact of the potentiometers also means the devices are susceptible to being struck by the wheels of passing trains. The desired results are to more accurately determine track movement of the rail in the actual environment. However, RailTEC has a sophisticated system by which testing of our improved device can be accomplished in a more controlled laboratory setting. The specific types of displacement of interest are as follows: lateral rail head, lateral rail base (field side), vertical rail base (gage side) and vertical rail base (field side). Two measurements are taken at each point of interest with sensors set at a distance apart based on the width of the fastening system. Testing in the lab was conducted for only one of the rail base vertical points. The use of an off-campus laboratory managed by RailTEC has provided the majority of the resources needed for testing the prototype The prototype utilizes the existing brackets that hold the potentiometers with only slight modification being made to the mounting plates that hold the potentiometer to allow the laser sensors to be interchanged or attached simultaneously with the potentiometer at each measuring point. This paper discusses the results of testing a sample sensor measuring at the same point as one of the potentiometers under various simulated environmental conditions; a final design will be developed later by RailTEC after the conclusion of this project.
Issue Date:2016-05
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-08-26

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