What Does A Railroad Defect Detector Do?

What Does A Railroad Defect Detector Do?

In the railway business, you need a lot of things that work as checks and balances to ensure safety and effectiveness for your company and employees. Even though you have quite a few systems in place to check the condition of your trains and cars, using something like a Railroad Defect Detector can substantially increase productivity and safety measures. 

A railroad defect detector simply monitors discovered problems with the trains when they pass over the specific piece of track the defector is installed in. These detectors help railroads substantially by detecting problems before they become dangerous or a larger issue. 

(Source: Wikipedia, Trains)

While technology is not a full replacement for humans looking over things with eyes and hands, it can support your company in being able to catch almost everything and measure things your people can not. While the initial investment may be costly, the money you will save from predicting repairs and preventing damages will far outweigh it. 

railroad defect detector
Jeff Hampton

What Do Railroad Defect Detectors Look For?

Usually, railroad defect detectors are installed on the track in such a way that they can help detect axle and signal problems in any passing trains. Thankfully, due to the advance of technology, you can actually install sensors on your Defect Detectors that are capable of discovering quite a few issues that will reduce injuries and larger railroad problems. 

Sensors and Their Purpose

The sensors you can install on your Railroad defect detectors are incredibly helpful in discovering quite a few issues from minor things to larger issues that can cause major injuries or railway damage. 

While there is a long list of sensors you can install on your railways, some of the most important are ones that can help stop the train from derailing or causing injury to other people. Without these sensors, you risk losing parts of your train or completely destroying something you could’ve saved. 

(Source: Boulder Creek Engineering, En-academic)

Wheel Impact Detectors

These sensors measure for any flat spots on the wheels of the train that are too long or too flat for the train to safely travel on. Flat parts on the wheels can cause derailment when going around curves, or simply problems with the train’s travel ability. 

Clearance Gauge Monitors

While most of the time conductors and engineers are more than aware of the clearance needed for their trains to pass through, these sensors measure the clearance ability and what is necessary to ensure safe passage through any one area. 

Hotbox/Equipment Dragging Sensors

The ball bearings on a train wheel can reach extremely high temperatures, especially while traveling for a long distance. These ball bearings can completely burn away after only a few minutes causing issues with the wheel and further travel. 

Hotbox sensors measure the temperature of the ball bearings and report the temperatures so things can be fixed and replaced as soon as possible. Given that ball bearings get so hot so often, these sensors are some of the most frequently installed on the railway. 

Now, Equipment Dragging sensors are usually part of the hotbox sensors due to their frequency of occurrence. If anything is dragging under or beside a train the dragging sensors will be able to record this information and relay it to who needs to know. 

(Source: Wikipedia, Trains)

Low Hose Detectors

While this may seem like it could be involved with dragging sensors, these specifically measure the hoses in between the cars to ensure they are properly hanging so they don’t become dislodged. The air hoses need a bit of a drop so they have some room to flex with the movement of the car, but not so much they could be hit by something. 

Rail Break Monitors

Most people are not aware that railroads have a constant current running through them from the sensor to the sensor. Theis current is how rail break sensors are monitoring if there is a railway break or interruption in the railroad. If this sensor picks up an interruption, this could mean a piece of track is missing and a train could derail. 

(Source: Train Aficionado, Wikipedia)

Final Thoughts

While it is always possible to monitor your trains and railways with a large employee base, given the technology we have now it is most often cheaper and more effective to use technology more often than your employees. 

Thanks to Defect Detectors, you can now monitor a wide array of things on your railcars from a computer. Your employees and trains will be safer and last longer with the ability to monitor things as you drive down the track. 


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

Recent Posts