(Kirchmöser, November 4, 2022) Non-destructive testing (NDT) is essential for safe operations. And it's no different in the rail transport sector. That's why rail vehicle axles have to undergo regular ultrasonic testing as part of the maintenance process, for example.
Ultrasonic test system checks axles
This ultrasonic testing is carried out with an ultrasonic test system. Experts at the depot use the system to detect possible cracks, corrosion or other damage to axles, ensuring that axles can be replaced in time.
Photo: Quality control of an ultrasonic test system on the NDT test axle.
Test axle checks ultrasonic test system
However, to ensure that test systems work at a consistent level, they also need to undergo regular quality checks. Test axles containing specific reference defects are used for this purpose.
They check that mechanised ultrasonic test systems for axles work as they should and they allow the sensitivity of systems to be adjusted.
Photo: Installed axle being tested using the ultrasonic test system.
DB Systemtechnik has been manufacturing test axles since 2001
The team from DB Systemtechnik's non-destructive testing and test systems department in Kirchmöser produced the first test axle for the ultrasonic testing of axles with a longitudinal bore in 2001. The axle was used on the first ultrasonic test system at the ICE depot in Hamburg Eidelstedt.
Since then, DB Systemtechnik has continuously manufactured test axles for all required vehicle classes and depots. They are used for test systems as part of periodic operational testing and in the production of new axles with a longitudinal bore.
499 test axles already in use – from Dessau to Johannesburg
The test axles are mainly supplied to internal customers within DB AG, but some also go to external customers in Germany and other countries. DB Systemtechnik test axles are used in Japan and South Africa, for example.
Milestone – and the 500th really did go to Dessau!
In September 2022, the 500th test axle was produced in Kirchmöser, which gave Dr Jochen Kurz, who heads DB Systemtechnik's team of NDT experts, the opportunity to look ahead to the future:
The number alone shows that we offer excellent manufacturing quality for test axles and that maintenance companies in Germany and around the world appreciate our work.
It is only natural that my team and I keep an eye on NDT technology, improvements in ultrasonic testing and the optimisation of test systems given that our NDT work also increases the availability of rail vehicles, helps maintain safe operations and contributes to the satisfaction of many customers.