US 20050194497 A1
A system is described for automatic detection of overheated wheel bearings of railroad cars and carriages. Signals representing the temperature of such bearings are generated by temperature sensors that are installed in close proximity of the wheel bearings. The signals are amplified, digitized and, to prevent false indications, averaged for each individual bearing. The averaged signals from each bearing are than compared to the averaged signals from the other three bearings of the same car or vehicle. If the signal from any bearing deviates by a present magnitude value, an alarm signal is generated and transmitted to a central monitoring location. The signals from each bearing are uniquely identified by a code. Light emitting diodes are installed close to the bearings and light up to indicate overheating. The electric power for the system is generated by an electromagnetic generator, which responds to the vibrations of the moving car.
1. A system for detection of overheating in wheel bearings of vehicles having a plurality of bearings comprising temperature sensors situated in close proximity of said plurality of wheel bearings, said temperature sensors responding to the temperature in said bearings and generating electrical signals representative of said temperature, means for processing said signals, and for generating alarm signals identifying overheated one or more of said bearings when the temperature of one or more of said plurality of bearings as compared to the averaged temperature representing signals from other of said plurality bearings of the same vehicle exceeds a preset value, and means responsive to said alarm signals for identifying the location of the bearings responsible for said signals exceeding preset value.
2. A system according to
means for amplifying said temperature-representing signals,
means for temporarily storing a plurality of said temperature representing signals from each said bearing and computing the average value of the magnitudes of said stored temperature representing signals
means for comparing said average value of said temperature representing signals with value of temperature representing signals originating in said temperature sensors signals from all other wheel bearings, generating an alarm signal when the difference between said values of said temperature representing signals from any said sensors in proximity to said one or more of said bearings exceeds by a preset value said average value,
means for generating a unique code identifying the specific location of said overheated bearing, and
means for utilizing said code with said alarm signal to identify overheating in one or more of said plurality of bearings.
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9. A system for detection of overheating in wheel bearings in a railroad car or other vehicle having a plurality of wheel bearings comprising individual temperature-sensing modules situated in close proximity of each of said wheel bearings, said temperature-sensing modules responding to the temperatures of said bearings and generating electrical signals representative of said temperatures, called temperature responsive signals hereinafter TRS, means for processing said TRS and for generating alarm signals when the TRS for one or more of said plurality of bearings exceeds a preset value as compared to the TRS from the other of said plurality of bearings thereby providing data identifying overheating one of said plurality of bearings and their location and for display or transmission.
10. A system according to
means for amplifying said signals.
means for digitizing said signals
means for generating codes identifying a particular module and attaching said code to said digitized signals thus producing a composite digital signal
means for transmitting said composite signal to a central monitoring station and activating said display comprising light-emitting diodes situated near each of said temperature-sensing modules.
11. A system according to
12. A system according to
means for receiving and transmitting signals from and to said temperature-sensing modules,
means for processing said signals, and
means for displaying said alarm signals.
13. A system according to
This application claims priority to my provisional application 60/550,432 filed Mar. 8, 2004, which by this reference is incorporated herein.
The instant invention relates generally to systems for detecting defects in wheel bearings of railroad car due to overheating by monitoring the temperature of such bearings.
Overheating of wheel bearings in railroad cars can lead to serious accidents if not noticed before major damage occurs. The Office of Safety Analysis of the Federal Railroad Administration reports that during the period between January and November 2003 there have been 1,477 train accidents attributable to equipment defects and failures. In fact, 180 of such incidents were directly related to bearing or breaks failures (See “Federal Railroad Administration, 2003 Report on Train Accidents due to Equipment Failures”). Such accidents are especially dangerous when they involve passenger carriages and freight cars carrying hazardous cargo, such as explosives and nuclear waste.
A system for detection of overheating in wheel bearings, aside of its value as a means for preventing accidents, injuries and deaths, would also allow for rail cars' maintenance schedule to be implemented in a timely fashion—an opportunity for cost-saving.
Federal Railroad Administration's “Rolling Stock program” places emphasis on the development and improvement of equipment defect detection via wayside and onboard systems. Such systems promote early defect detection and help prevent derailments due to equipment failure. They also permit condition-based maintenance of car and locomotive components.”(See “Federal Railroad Administration, Railroad Research and Development Program, Section 4.3 Rolling Stock and Components”)
The advent of inexpensive and reliable sensors, microprocessors and electronics makes such automated systems for detection of overheating practical and cost-effective.
It is a feature of he present invention to provide an on-board system for railroad cars and carriages, which detects and provides signals that alert responsible personnel to incidents of bearing overheating and identify the location of the overheated bearings.
The system provided by the invention improves heretofore-proposed systems such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,629,572; 3,697,744; 3,731,087; 3,812,343; and 4,659,043, which include the wayside systems relying on detection of infrared signatures from overheated bearings. The present invention provides an on-board system, which is continuously operating thereby enabling real time detection of bearing failures due to lack of lubrication or mechanical defects as evidenced by overheating. The wayside IR detectors also frequently suffer from poor sensitivity; are widely spaced so that they may not detect an overheated bearing in time to prevent an accident; are not responsive to scanning bearings of cars wherein several (say, three) different sizes of wheels are employed; are prone to falsely respond to sources of IR radiation other than the car bearings.
With reference to
Module 30 is an A/D converter that converts the signals analog to the bearing temperature into digital data. Module 30 also contains a digital clock and a circuit for imparting a string of code that identifies the bearing where the information originates. The digital data comprise information on the temperature of the bearings and the bearing I.D. code. The data from module 30 (consisting of four groups of temperature readings and accompanying codes) are fed into the comparator module 33. This module contains a microprocessor or logic programmed to temporarily store several consecutive temperature readings from each bearing and compute the average temperature values of these readings. The module 33 continuously compares the magnitudes of the averaged temperature data from the four sensors 10, 11, 12, and 13 with the temperature data from each sensor for each cycle of four groups of temperature data and generates an overheating alarm signal if and when it determines that the temperature data from one of the bearings indicates that the temperature exceeds by a preset limit value the average temperature from all four or just the other three bearings. As a result, false alarms are prevented that could be generated in hot weather conditions raising the temperature in all wheel bearings; the effects of any spurious signals are also suppressed. Module 33 also attaches the I.D. code generated in the module 30 corresponding to the overheated bearing to any alarm signal, thus identifying the specific bearing, which is overheating.
The alarm signal is input into module 36, which acts as a demultiplexer and causes one of the outputs 37, 38, 39, or 40 corresponding to an overheated bearing to activate one of the LEDs 22,23, 24, or 25. The LEDs are mounted at a convenient location near the carriage or vehicle wheels and are intended to facilitate visual determination of a defective bearing, i.e., which of the bearings had overheated. Other types of signaling devices could also be used instead of LEDs.
The data from the module 36 are also entered into the transmitting module 42, which transmits via the antenna 44 the alarm signal to a central monitoring station in the locomotive. Alternately the alarm signals can be transmitted via a wire link to the central monitoring station from the terminal 43.
The system is self-powered to simplify the installation. The magnet core 50 of the solenoid coil 49 in the power generator is suspended on springs 51 and 52 and moves vertically up and down as the carriage or the vehicle moves. As a result, electric current is generated in the coil of the solenoid 49. The current is rectified by the diode 48, used to charge the battery 46 and to pass through the resistor 47 to the zener diode 45, which maintains the voltage at the desired level of, say, five volts. The terminal 53 is connected to terminals 18, 19, 20, 21, 29, 31, 34, 41, and 54 to provide power to the system. Alternately, the system could be powered from the power bus of the railroad car or carriage or other vehicle.
The temperature sensors may be thermocouples, thermistors, fiber optic temperature sensors, and other types, though thermistors and fiber optic sensors have two advantages over thermocouples in this application in that they do not require a reference (cold) junction and are generally more rugged.
Each module comprises temperature sensors 50, 60, 70, and 80, installed in close proximity of the wheel bearings. The analog signals from these sensors are amplified in 51, 61, 71, and 72; then the amplified signals are passed to the A/D converters 52, 62, 72, and 82. The digitized signals are input, respectively, into modules 53, 63, 73, and 83 where a digital code identifying each particular bearing is generated and attached to the signal string. Next, the signals are fed into transceivers 54, 64, 74, and 84, which transmit the data to the central monitoring station depicted in
Each module is equipped with a power generator 55-58, 65-68, 75-88, and 85-88, as described with reference to
Referring now to