Take a moment to think about how you respond to your immediate environment and you quickly realise how adaptable you must be to navigate everyday situations. Adaptability is as crucial for humans as it is for the things around us, ensuring everything works effectively within the environment.
Trains are a fantastic example of this. To achieve optimum performance on the rails, environmental conditions play a fundamental part. Temperature, for instance, directly affects how some components function, and with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns affecting countries across the world, the rail industry must become increasingly adaptable to reduce the impact of change on customers.
Specifying for change
Let’s look at railway tracks. For every 1°C increase above 27°C, tracks expand by around one inch per mile. Over the stretch of an entire railway line, that volume of expansion can significantly impact how trains are able to run, with even the smallest of changes potentially having a huge impact on service, ride and wear. Just as tracks are affected by changes in temperature, so too are rubber components, which play a critical role in the rail industry.
As an incredibly durable material, rubber plays an irreplaceable role on the railways – particularly in components like antivibration solutions which are relied on to improve performance, safety and passenger comfort. So, whether it’s the extreme heats of Dubai’s underground or the sub-zero temperatures of Siberia, it’s critical for those specifying and manufacturing components to consider the operational environment so that parts can be tailored accordingly and continue to provide the levels of performance required.
Small changes, big impacts
While the unique qualities of rubber are what makes it an invaluable material in the rail industry, it’s those very characteristics which also expose it to changes in temperature. In fact, even the smallest changes in temperature can have a significant impact on the core characteristics of rubber. An operating temperature change of just 10°C, for instance, can change the stiffness of rubber components by as much as 1%, having a knock-on impact in performance as a result.
For rubber components employed in railway vehicles, precise dimensions and compounds are critical to their continued performance. With a greater deflection rate than that of steel, rubber is able to stretch considerably more before becoming deformed, so it can cope with greater strains and stay in service for longer. Its high load bearing capacity and potential to be chemically manipulated to provide a broad range of characteristics also mean it can handle the harsh conditions of the railways, customised for a whole range of applications.
Developed to perform
To ensure these benefits are consistently felt, having an understanding of the operational environment allows for a suitable rubber formulation to be created, bespoke to the challenges of a particular application. With even slight changes in temperature affecting the rubber’s tolerance and its ability to perform at the required level, testing is a vital part of the development process.
Once a particular batch of rubber is produced, our fatigue tests ensure the product is able to cope in the face of multiple variances – including temperature – even at the extremes. So even when the heat is on, rubber mounts still perform to their required levels, helping rail vehicles to perform even the harshest of environments.
Discover more about our solutions to some of the biggest challenges on the railways here: https://www.trelleborg.com/en/anti-vibration-solutions/your--industry/rail--and--mass--transit