Vector Automation provides the technology and ability to manufacture automated systems for the support of the railroad companies like BNSF Railroad and rail service industries like Trinity Industries, Greenbrier and Gunderson.
Vector Automation is working with BNSF Railroad Industries in the area of designing and manufacturing the equipment used in the rebuilding the “Side frames” and “Bolsters”. This technology is state of the art using lasers, robotics, and high end welding power sources like Fronius.
The system takes a used side frame or bolster and laser scans the bearing surfaces to be rebuilt using the MIG welding process. It then compares the current state of its dimensional state and compares it to a as cast part. Based on that information then the part is welded to build up all bearing surfaces that require build up. The a six axis robot machines the bearing surfaces back to as cast specifications bringing the used casting back to as cast condition. Results are faster turn around and most of all the reduction of the car “hunting “ while going down the track due to maintaining the proper centerline distances between centers of the bearing surfaces used for the wheels.
A report can be generated on the casting showing what condition it was in prior to refurbishment and also after refurbishment for documentation that the work was done correctly.
BNSF is trying to make this technology the industry standard for side frame and bolster refurbishment.
Vector is also working with BNSF on the refurbishment of “Couplers”. The technology will use the same laser scanning capabilities and the same MIG welding technologies but will be configured on a mobile base so that companies like Greenbrier and Gunderson can put the robotic technology to use in their own refurbishment plants so as to do work for companies like BNSF.