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Application of aerial photography to obtain ideal data for Condition Based Risk Management of rail networks

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2 Author(s)

Owner/operators of both electricity distribution and railway transport systems share a common need to regularly inspect, maintain and manage large numbers of electrical assets that are geographically dispersed. While this is essential in order to meet operational, safety and regulatory requirements, it represents a significant workload for those responsible. EA Technology has pioneered the use of high definition photographic techniques, combined with the use of helicopters, to perform detailed non-intrusive surveys of ground-based assets in a cost-effective and convenient manner. This means that rail assets can be inspected in detail without the need for trackside access. Particular emphasis is placed on obtaining specific key information in an accurate and timely fashion. This condition information is then used as an input to a Condition Based Risk Management (CBRM) model that enables asset managers to plan maintenance strategies spanning many years. The CBRM model takes account of factors such a current asset condition, component wear rates, failure modes, practical experience and environment conditions. It provides a link to remaining useful life and probability of failure as well as demonstrating the most cost-effective approach in terms of Net Present Value to scheduling refurbishment intervention. The method, which represents a complete turnkey solution, has recently been deployed to great success within the electricity distribution sector. In some cases it has replaced electricity tower climbing inspections completely, revolutionising the way in which the networks are managed. This paper describes how the technique could benefit the rail industry by highlighting the many parallels that exist within the rail and electricity sectors. It demonstrates how helicopter high definition photographic surveys have the potential to provide a practical and cost-effective alternative to trackside inspections. These can be performed without causing any disruption to rail s- rvices and also provide a unique improved inspection perspective not possible from the ground.

Published in:

Railway Condition Monitoring, 2008 4th IET International Conference on

Date of Conference:

18-20 June 2008