The condition of a railroad wheel plays a major role in the safe operation of the train and also in achieving and maintaining the levels of energy efficiency that makes rail transportation one of the most effective forms of transporation. However, detecting problems with railroad wheels remains an area with room for advanced technologies. IEM, in cooperation with government agencies and industry partners has investigated several different approaches.

Traditionally, ultrasonic inspection has been the primary means of wheel inspection. However, application of ultrasonics often requires specially configured tracks, removal of cars from revenue service, and poorly validated results. IEM has looked at alternatives to traditional ultrasonic inspection in several different areas: