The art of managing undercarriage is the early identification and then rectification of accelerated wear in the components. Inspecting and measuring these components, and then comparing the results with previous inspection results allows a comparison of the wear rates. Ideally the components should be achieving between 100 and 110% wear before they need to be replaced. This will ensure the lowest cost per hour of operation. Where components exhibit accelerated wear, these percentages will not be achieved.
Thermal Images provide a heat signature on components where there is wear taking place. These are typically very early signs of potential wear and may not appear in the normal physical measurements taken on the components. Thermal images should be included as a standard on an undercarriage inspection report and should include the ability to review the previous thermal images as a comparison along with the previous inspection measurements.
Thermal images are also used to identify failures early to limit consequential damage and accelerated wear on linked components.
An example would be failed rollers and idlers can seize causing them to spin the shaft on the bogie causing additional damage to the frame components. This adds to down time as the job is no longer simply to replace the roller or idler as additional work will be required.
Another example would be a seized roller can cause additional link wear caused by the excessive friction between the parts.
The system should as a basic requirement also provide the life lived on the component along with a percentage worn at removal so as to be able to track the performance of the individual component lives.