Track defects are a major safety concern for the railroad industry. Among different track components, insulated rail joints, which are widely used for signaling purposes, are considered a weak link in the railroad track. Several joint-related defects have been identified by the railroad community, including rail wear, torque loss, and joint bar breakage. Current track inspection techniques rely on manual and visual inspection or on specially equipped testing carts, which are costly, timeconsuming, traffic disturbing, and prone to human error. To overcome the aforementioned limitations, the feasibility of utilizing impedance-based structural health monitoring for insulated rail joints is investigated in this work. For this purpose, an insulated joint, provided by Koppers Inc., is instrumented with piezoelectric transducers and assembled with 136 AREA rail plugs. The instrumented joint is then installed and tested at the Facility for Accelerated Service Testing, Transportation Technology Center Inc. The effects of environmental and operating conditions on the measured impedance signatures are investigated through a set of experiments conducted at different temperatures and loading conditions. The capabilities of impedance-based SHM to detect several joint-related damage types are also studied by introducing reversible mechanical defects to different joint components.
Mohammad I. Albakri, V. V. N. Sriram Malladi, Americo G. Woolard, and Pablo A. Tarazaga, "In-field implementation of impedance-based structural health monitoring for insulated rail joints," Proc. SPIE 10169, Nondestructive Characterization and Monitoring of Advanced Materials, Aerospace, and Civil Infrastructure 2017, 101690E (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 26, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2260050.
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