KiwiRail Business Challenges

KiwiRail maintains more than 4000kms of rail track. They are seeking novel proposals for High-speed Automated Track Inspection Technologies that can give reliable and accurate measurements of track condition to reduce maintenance costs.

Initial discussions between K-Matrix, KiwiNet and KiwiRail, have lead to the identification of 3 Key challenges that will greatly benefit KiwiRail if solved.

Key Challenges:

  1. Non-invasive method for measuring stress in rail tracks
  2. Non-invasive method for measuring wooden sleeper integrity
  3. Image analysis of track condition

Non-invasive measurement of stress in railway tracks


Photo by Michael Kilgour, courtesy of KiwiRail

Incorrect stress on the iron rails can cause them to buckle or break. This is a highly dangerous situation that may lead to derailment. The classic methods to measure the longitudinal rail stress area:

  • Cutting the rail and measuring the resulting gap/overlap
  • Using the lifting frame method (current KiwiRail preferred method)

KiwiRail needs to measure rail stresses non-destructively providing reliable information for maintenance engineers to allow them to de-stress rails before problems occur.

Non-invasive measurement of sleeper integrity


Photo courtesy of KiwiRail

Splits or cracks in a sleeper can mean derailment. While wooden sleepers are being replaced with concrete versions, the cost and effort to identify those that need replacement is expensive. To automate and accurately identify sleepers that need to be replaced would result in major savings.

Image analysis
of track condition


Photo by Michael Kilgour, courtesy of KiwiRail

There is a desperate need to improve the monitoring the condition of the track. Be it the connections of the rail to the sleeper, overgrowth of foliage on the side of the tracks or overhead power coupling, all can improved using innovative image analysis technology to identify and warn KiwiRail saving both time and accidents.

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About kMatrix

Knowledge Matrix provides business intelligence services to corporate, financial, public-sector, and professional clients in the UK, Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It uses unique data and analytical processes for the provision of quantitative data.

  • Products and services are the result of a 20-year research programme into business survival and commercial/market risk.
  • Data sources include market trends and performance benchmarks in 50 sectors across global markets.
  • kMatrix tracks up to 11,000 technologies for their effect on these markets.
  • Access up to 9m business cases for comparative analysis.

Tim Newman and Cliff Gibson are associates of kMatrix and work collaboratively to assist the development of early innovative organisations.

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Are you up for a challenge?

KiwiNet speaks to a range of local companies about current problems they are facing within their organisations. These companies now extend their problems as business challenges to New Zealand’s public research organisations. They are interested in hearing about any research ideas or projects that may offer a solution and there is the potential to work with them directly to develop your solution for commercial applications.

Funding is Available

KiwiNet is keen to hear your proposals to solve these challenges, and we are willing to help support good ideas from research organisations to prepare prototypes and prove technologies.

To find out more about the challenges below or to submit your expression of interest in finding a solution please email admin@kiwinet.org.nz and we’ll be in touch, or call Seumas McCroskery on 021 617 752. We’d love to hear your ideas.