Faster, More Reliable Automatic Wheel Hub Inspection

From: GE Inspection Technologies
Published: Fri Apr 22 2005

Huerth, Germany, January, 2005. –The new WheelScan 5 Automatic Wheel Inspection System from GE Inspection Technologies now allows faster more reliable eddy current inspection of aircraft wheel hubs, while providing real time test display, thermal strip chart reporting or PC-based paperless data recording and archiving of results. Moreover, the new system is extremely operator-friendly and features a simple User Interface with an intuitive layout.

Set-up times have been significantly reduced with the new WheelScan 5, as data relating to particular wheels is stored digitally for easy future recall. This removes the need for manual entering of old data, the most common cause of error with comparable systems, and also eliminates the requirement for maintaining cumbersome card index systems. Identification can be by number or by bar coding, so that a complete test can be recalled with a single bar code scan.

Inspection cycle times have also been reduced by increasing the probe stepper motor speed, allowing the probe to be located in position at up to 150mm/sec (5.9 inches/sec), compared with the 8mm/sec (0.3 inches/sec) of comparable systems.

Reliability and repeatability of results is a particular feature of the new WheelScan 5. It is of modular construction for ease of maintenance and uses standard motion control system components for longevity. Encoders on all axes allow repeat positioning of scan parameters, while the AutoTrak Plus two-dimensional, bi-directional contour following system ensures that the probe travel path covers the surface to be inspected.

Safety, of both operator and machine, has been a prime design requirement in the development of the new inspection system. The patented SLIC (Secure Lift, Inertial Centring) device lifts and centres the wheel to ensure that there are no out-of-balance forces resulting from eccentric clamping and, as the SLIC lifting ram is introduced into the wheel bore from below, there is no need for any overhead lifting gear or apparatus. Furthermore, all control interfaces are located on the front of the unit, so that there is no requirement for operators to lean over the inspection area and, as all instrumentation is below the height of the roller table, it is not vulnerable to damage by wheel hubs during inspection.

The new system allows the operator full diagnostics capability for ease of maintenance. This includes motion control and test from the User Interface, as well as complete evaluation by PC from a remote location. The modular design and the fact that all components have their own plugs and sockets allows for rapid fault identification.

The prime area of application of WheelScan 5 is the aviation sector, where it will be used in aircraft maintenance programmes by airlines and aircraft maintenance organisations, although its versatility will also permit its use in sectors such as motor sport. It has a scan height up to 415mm (16.3 inches) and can handle wheels up to 865mm (34.0 inches) in diameter and up to 250kg (551lbs) in weight. Wheels can be inspected flange up, flange down or fully assembled flange-to-flange. It has the flexibility to be able to inspect non-standard wheels, including those with small diameters. Bolt holes can be inspected using special probes and a special arm on the SLIC will allow internal bore inspection. Weighing 250 (551lbs) kg and requiring a footprint of just 914 x 870 x 800 mm (36.0 x 54.3 x 31.5 inches), the WheelScan 5 will be rightly considered an essential item of equipment in the aircraft maintenance sector.

About GE Inspection Technologies
GE Inspection Technologies is a global leader in technology-driven inspection solutions that deliver customer productivity, quality and safety. The company designs, manufactures and services radiographic, ultrasonic and eddy current equipment to test materials without deforming or damaging them. Its products are used in a wide range of industries, including Aerospace, Power Generation, Oil & Gas and Automotive. The company has 11 application centres around the globe and offers a range of services including repair, calibration, training and upgrades. GE Inspection Technologies has 1,000 employees at more than 25 facilities in 25 countries worldwide. To learn more about GE Inspection Technologies visit
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