Union Pacific Continues to Enhance Safety Technologies

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Union Pacific Continues to Enhance Safety Technologies

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Monday, June 10, 2013 - 8:00am

Union Pacific's reportable derailment rate decreased by 2 percent in 2012 and by 15 percent from 2002 to 2012. However, UP knows that there is always more room for improvement. Innovative technology can enhance safety and the company remains focused on improving processes and investing in new technologies to keep railroad employees and communities safe.

These technologies include:

  • Distributed Power Units. Distributed Power Units (DPUs) are locomotives that operate in the middle and/or end of trains rather than only at the front of trains. This placement makes trains less prone to derailments and facilitates more even braking which, in turn, reduces wheel and track wear. This technology also improves fuel efficiency, resulting in fewer emissions.
  • Ultrasonic Wheel-Defect Detection. The process to indentify wheels can be a needle-in-a-haystack situation. The only one of its kind in the industry, our robotic systems scans each wheel in our coal-car fleet every 60 to 90 days in an effort to eliminate derailments caused by broken wheels.
  • Wayside Detectors. Each day, our systems analyze 20 million data points collected at more than 4,700 special detectors deployed across our network, helping to more accurately identify and repair potential failures in rail equipment components.
  • Hot Bearing ("Hotbox") Detectors. These special detectors use an infrared sensor to measure the temperature of bearings as a train rolls by, allowing us to indentify faulty bearings that could result in a derailment.
  • Acoustic Bearing Detectors. Sound plays a rold in determining bearings' safety. Audio bearing detectors feature a shutter that opens jut prior to the passing of a train. The open shutter allows an array of microphones to identify bearing defects.
  • Wheel Profile Detectors. The wheel profile detector uses a laser similar to a supermarket checkout scanner to capture a cross-sectional snapshot of the outline of a wheel as it rolls by. Based on this data, wheel defects are identified, reported and addressed. 


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