May 23, 2012

Wheel lubrication cuts wheel and track wear in Manchester

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A TWO-STAGE 18-month trial has been completed on Manchester Metrolink aimed at reducing LRV wheel flange and track wear, as well as the associated noise, using an Intelligent Wheel Flange Lubrication (iWFL) system developed by Rowe Hankins, Britain.

The iWFL system extended the distance the T68 LRV could cover before re-profiling of the wheel flanges from 55,000 to 87,000km.

The iWFL system is designed to apply measured quantities of grease to wheel flanges when and where required by combining measurement of distance, curve radius detection, and GPS technology to pinpoint where the problems of potential wear and noise occur. Measured pulses of lubrication, which vary according to the severity and length of the curve, are applied to the wheel flanges on the leading axle just before the curve is reached. Sufficient traces of this lubrication are conveyed to other wheels to moderate friction and wear without affecting traction or braking efficiency.

The system is able to apply proportionately more lubrication on the outer edge of the curve and, as it recognises the direction the LRV is travelling, lubrication is switched to the leading wheelset when the LRV reverses direction. Rowe Hankins also uses a lubricant that is specially formulated so that there is no persistent residue or environmental impact.

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