Railinc on Dec. 7 reported that it has added railcar cushioning devices to the Component Tracking program, providing “enhanced visibility” into their location and status.
Directed by the Association of American Railroads Equipment Engineering Committee (EEC) to add these devices, Railinc said it developed a process and carried out test implementations. Upon “successful conclusion” of testing, the inclusion of railcar cushioning devices in Component Tracking was made mandatory by the EEC, according to Railinc, a Cary, N.C.-based subsidiary of the association.
The Component Tracking program, established in 2013, gives rail carriers, equipment owners, shops and other industry participants visibility into the health status and history of equipment and components, allowing them to “identify wear and failure trends and improve the recall process,” Railinc reported. “The North American railcar fleet includes some 1.6 million revenue-earning units, all of which must be tracked and monitored for safety and reliability.”
The industry has implemented component tracking “for hundreds of millions of critical railcar components including wheelsets, side frames, bolsters and couplers,” Railinc Product Manager Clayton Miller said. “The addition of cushioning devices—which help prevent hard coupling during railcar switching—will prevent damage to equipment and shipments by enabling car owners to schedule maintenance and repairs before equipment failures occur in the field.”
More than 93,000 cushioning devices have been registered and associated in the Component Tracking system with their railcars since 2021, when that process became mandatory for new cars and cars undergoing major maintenance or repairs, according to Railinc. As this process continues, it said, all railcars with cushioning devices will be integrated into the system.
Strato’s SCU (Selective Cushion Unit) and Miner’s FCS (Friction Cushioning System) “are currently AAR conditionally approved devices, and are not required to be logged with Railinc until the point that they make it into the AAR Field Manual,’ an industry source explained to Railway Age. “We have a way to go to get to that point. The AAR EEC has been working on a specification to qualify units, but until that happens, it’s unlikely anything will be added to the AAR Field Manual.”