Company ‘firsts’ at home and overseas are reinforcing the reputation of Sheffield-based Mechan and rewarding the depot maintenance specialist for its commitment to innovation and engineering excellence.
Mechan is looking forward to continued progress this year, after building momentum in its export trade and delivering equipment at home that will play a key role in keeping the British transport network moving.
The firm secured its place in the record books after installing the largest capacity rail traverser in the UK to transfer freight locomotives between lines at the Port of Felixstowe’s North Rail Terminal.
With a capacity of 170 tonnes, the structure is one of a kind and the most advanced traverser ever produced by Mechan. Weighing 90 tonnes and measuring 30 metres in length, the behemoth is equipped specifically to handle future locomotives, which are expected to be larger than today’s trains.
No job is too big or small for Mechan – from concept to manufacture and installation, the firm can produce traversers and turntables that meet individual workshop designs and vehicle requirements, offering clients a completely bespoke service.
Thameslink is just the ticket
Securing work worth more than £1 million from landmark UK project, Thameslink, has provided a welcome boost to Mechan’s sales. Commissioned by Siemens Rail Systems, four bogie drops will be provided for two new facilities being constructed as part of this historic upgrade to London’s rail links.
The first two bogie drops have been installed at the Hornsey depot in the London borough of Haringey. This three-road 12-car maintenance facility will sit alongside the east coast mainline and is set to be completed in 2016. A further two bogie drops will be delivered to Crawley’s Three Bridges depot. This entirely new facility is larger than its counterpart in Haringey, containing five roads, split across two sites on either side of the London to Brighton mainline.
In both locations, the bogie drops will be used to service the new Desiro City trains, entering service early in 2016. Mechan’s equipment is installed in a pit within the depot floor, enabling bogies and undercar modules to be removed or exchanged without lifting or splitting the carriages.
Having the facility to remove or replace complete bogies and under carriage equipment without decoupling vehicles makes bogie change feasible within two hours, whilst time can also be saved on other under floor work. In addition, adapters can be fitted to enable any type of undercar module to be removed or replaced.
Mechan’s bogie drops use an intelligent screw jack system, which is favoured by depot operators for its greatly reduced pit depth, minimising civil costs during construction. A pit continuation can be added to the drop to provide full clearance under the bogie and side platforms give unrivalled access to the item being changed. When not in use, rail beams latch into place, ensuring the road is safe for depot traffic.
Like its popular bogie drops, Mechan’s wheelset drops suit all applications. The equipment is available as a simple table top system or with a pit continuation and adapters to facilitate various module removal/replacement. All wheelset drops are also supplied with adjustable bogie jacks to provide support during removal of the wheelset.
On the other side of the world, Mechan has enhanced its export credentials by securing its first order down under.
Thanks to links with local distributor, Unique Rail, the firm supplied a pair of ten tonne bogie rotators to Australia’s Downer EDi Rail for the Newport depot in Victoria. They are the heaviest Mechan has ever produced and will be used to maintain up to ten different types of locomotive.
This broad remit required design modifications to increase the rotators’ lifting capacity and add extra bolt holes to the structures, so Unique worked with Mechan’s engineers to create a special adapter that would attach to various bogie frames. Typically, rotators are manufactured to support six to eight tonnes, but as freight trains in Australia are larger than the UK equivalent, the capacity was increased to ten tonnes.
Exports continue to play a starring role in Mechan’s development and the firm is currently working with Associated Engineers, its partner in Hong Kong, on two new projects for national rail operators, MTR, which will increase its presence in the region.
A total of 24 lifting jacks with a 20 tonne capability and four bogie turntables are being constructed for the new Wong Chuk Hang depot on the south island line (east), due to open in 2015.
Mechan has also been commissioned to provide a bogie drop for the Shek Kong maintenance facility that will serve the high speed Express Rail Link (XRL), connecting Hong Kong with Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Poor ground conditions on the island mean the firm’s standard bogie drop design needs to be modified to work with a shallower pit, but despite the changes, both orders remain on schedule.
Raising the bar
Mechan’s patented Megalink system has earned its flagship lifting jacks global popularity, allowing multiple units to be raised simultaneously from anywhere in a chain by just one operator.
In 2011, a major redevelopment of the control system increased its capacity to cater for longer, high speed trains and an almost unlimited number of jacks can now be operated together. The largest system produced to date is a 44-jack chain, which is being used to service the 11-car Pendolino trains on the West Coast Mainline.
By updating the Megalink controller with inverter technology, Mechan has introduced power consumption savings of up to 50%, whilst the addition of a touch screen HMI panel provides the user with constant feedback during the maintenance process. These changes have improved technical and commercial viability, without losing any of the flexibility for which the system is renowned.
The jacks themselves have also been refined to enable co-ordinated multiple use to a 3mm tolerance. A mobile version with either a fixed or moving anvil is available and they are quick to set up, interlink and substitute. Rail-mounted jacks with moving anvils can be provided if necessary.
Lifting capacity ranges from five tonnes to 45 tonnes and the jacks have been devised to cater for all uses including trams, metros, light rail systems, main lines and heavy on-track plant.
Designing lifting and handling equipment to make maintaining rail vehicles simpler, safer and more efficient is Mechan’s primary goal, but to increase depot productivity, the firm has enhanced its portfolio with a number of third party innovations from top European suppliers.
Courtesy of French manufacturers, Sogema Engineering, Mechan is bringing the latest under floor wheel lathes and wheel press equipment to the UK and Irish markets.
Sogema’s high quality wheel lathes can be adapted to suit any type of rail vehicle, from LRT metro to passenger coaches and freight trains. These specialist monobloc machines are available in a single or tandem arrangement with a capacity of 15, 20 or 30 tonnes. Visio-reprofiling and visio-shunting can be added, whilst compact civil foundations make installation quick and keep costs to a minimum.
Sogema’s wheel press equipment is a perfect complement to the undercar handling products Mechan designs in house. Offering mounting and dismounting facilities, this wide range of wheel presses can be used for the production or maintenance of wheelsets. Single and double cylinder units are available, catering for 100 to 800 tonnes, some of which are automatic and have a roll though arrangement.
Efficient exhaust extraction
Legislation in Europe makes clean air a requirement and the demand for healthy working environments is increasing worldwide.
One of the latest additions to Mechan’s range is the Blaschke exhaust extraction systems. This efficient way to capture diesel emissions ensures all hazardous gas is disposed of safely, creating cleaner and healthier depots.
Blaschke can cater for any type of locomotive, as each exhaust system is manufactured to the client’s requirements. They are fitted with smaller pipes than traditional extraction methods to guarantee airtight removal of fumes directly at the source. This increases the power generated and enables smaller fans to be used, reducing energy consumption and noise levels.
These flexible suction hoods are fitted over an exhaust pipe and can be adjusted easily by remote control. They are attached to extraction arms that rotate through 360 degrees and run on rails stretching from one end of the track to the other, offering maximum usability.
It is generally acknowledged that handling equipment operating in a clean environment fails less and requires fewer spare parts, saving downtime and repair costs. Without exhaust extraction, diesel particles form a layer of dust that puts workers at risk and settles on machines, meaning extra cleaning and maintenance is required. Capturing toxic particles at the point of creation not only meets the latest government recommendations, but also makes staff more productive.
The optoelectronic gauge can be tailored to the needs of the operator and used to monitor wear on any complex shaped object, including railway wheelsets and brake discs, wheel clearance (back-to-back) and rail profiles. CALIPRI is more reliable than conventional measurement methods, as the distance and angle of the sensor do not affect the data collection process, eliminating human error and producing faultless, tamper-proof reports.
Providing precise measurements of all safety parameters, including flange height, thickness, slope (QR), dishing, wheel width and rim thickness (seam), the CALIPRI is proven to be far better than conventional scanning methods, even in restricted spaces. Complete measurement of a wheel takes just five seconds and requires only one operative, increasing productivity significantly.
The sensor is moved over the object to be measured by hand, whilst the intelligent image processing system records segments from various directions. Acoustic signals and a graphic display help the operator obtain quick and consistent results, even in confined and hard to reach spaces. Once the entire profile has been recorded, the data is evaluated and the measurement values shown on screen. If any of the specified tolerances are exceeded, this is indicated immediately.
Cleaner, greener shunters
In addition to the CALIPRI, Mechan is introducing its home markets to the award-winning Zwiehoff electrically powered road/rail shunters.
The Rotrac E2 has a 250 tonne capacity and achieved third place in the concept vehicle category at the 2012 OkoGlobe awards, thanks to its energy efficiency and zero emissions.
Following the success of this pioneering system, a larger 500 tonne shunter – the Rotrac E4 – was premiered at InnoTrans and was met with enthusiasm from across the transport industry.
This high degree of energy efficiency is produced by Zwiehoff’s 48V Technology, which uses only a few battery cells and a small quantity of liquid to provide the necessary drive. Zero emissions are achieved through the recovery of energy during operation and because the shunters are powered electrically, noise pollution is kept to a minimum.
Perhaps most importantly, the Rotrac shunters have a boost function that gives first class pull-away performance and sensitive steering for on the spot turning, ensuring passenger and freight trains can be moved effortlessly. Explosion proof versions are also available for use in hazardous environments.
A compact, simplistic design and low centre of gravity makes the Rotrac shunters small, yet extremely strong and robust. They are supplied with radio remote control as standard and are fitted with adaptive vehicle controls to synchronise individual wheel drive, manage speed and adjust the compensating rail guidance system.
Traditional methods of replenishing on-board stocks of sand are time-consuming and labour intensive, but Klein’s automated procedure allows just one operator to fill sandboxes through an ergonomically designed nozzle, similar to those used to refuel a car.
The sand is stored in an onsite silo and dispensed directly, via a fixed installation or mobile filling cart. A dense phase pneumatic pipe transfers the sand under pressure at low velocity, minimising pipe wear, whilst dust is eliminated through a simple exhaust system.
These sandbox filling systems are flexible and can be expanded with little additional infrastructure. They are also easy to maintain, environmentally sound and efficient, enabling rolling stock to return to service as quickly as possible.