DEVELOPED to reduce the need to rely on engineering judgement when inspecting rails, ACFM Walking Stick is a self-contained electromagnetic probe which provides semi-automated ratings of the severity of rail defects.

The Walking Stick has been developed by Technical Software Consultant and Balfour Beatty Rail Technologies, which is carrying out field trials in the UK to locate rail head defects and validate grinding policies.

Mounted on a trolley which is manually pushed along the railhead, the Walking Stick uses alternating field current measurement to assess rail integrity, giving an audible warning of any surface defects which are found. It is able to discriminate between head checks, gauge corner cracking and squats, and measures crack pocket depths along the angle of propagation. Deeper cracks give a greater response, and the presence of a large number of cracks will not render a rail untestable, unlike conventional ultrasonic systems.

The Walking Stick weighs 21 kg. It is propelled along the rail at speeds of up to 15m/min and has a battery life of around 5h. A laptop computer plugged into the top of the Walking Stick displays and stores real-time defect and location data, and a summary can be exported in Microsoft Excel format.

Technical Software Consultants Ltd, UK

Reader Enquiry Number: 140Balfour Beatty Rail Technologies, UKReader Enquiry Number: 141