Diffuse ultrasonic wave-based structural health monitoring for railway turnouts

Kai Wang, Wuxiong Cao, Lei Xu, Xiongbin Yang, Zhongqing Su, Xiongjie Zhang, Lijun Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Real-time damage evaluation is a critical step to warrant the integrity of turnout systems in railway industry. Nevertheless, existing structural health monitoring (SHM) approaches, despite their proven effectiveness in laboratory demonstration, are restricted from in-situ implementation in engineering practice. Based upon the continued endeavors of the authors in developing SHM approaches and exploring real world applications, an in-situ SHM approach, exploiting active diffuse ultrasonic waves (DUW) and a benchmark-less method, has been developed and implemented in a marshalling station in China. When trains passing a railway turnout, the train-induced loads on the rail track can lead to the growth of defects in the rail, and such growth disturbs the ultrasound traversing at the defect and gives rise to discrepancies between the DUW signals acquired before and after the train's passage. On this basis, a damage index, making use of the defect growth-induced changes in DUW signals, is proposed to identify the presence of defect. The probability of defect growth induced by the train-related load can be used to assess the severity of the defect. Via an online diagnosis system, conformance tests are implemented in Chengdu North Marshalling Station, in which defects in switch rails are identified and the health status of in-service rail tracks are continuously monitored. The results have demonstrated the effectiveness and reliability of DUW-driven SHM towards real world railway turnout applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106031
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Diffuse ultrasonic waves
  • In-situ health monitoring
  • Industrial implementation
  • PZT sensor network
  • Railway turnouts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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