Hold on tight! – The age of the railway

Written by

Carolina Worrell, Editor-in-Chief

The Track Attachment Monitor from Kawasaki Track Technologies uses cameras and global positioning sensors to identify potential faults in track attachment systems.

RAILWAY AGE, OCTOBER 2022 ISSUE: Rail fastening system suppliers continue to find new ways to provide tight retention and longer track life, helping to ensure safe rail transportation applications heavy, high-speed and mass transit in North America and beyond.

There are many ways to attach a rail to a sleeper. Traditional tips and a wide variety of clips are available to suit any application. Gauge holding ability, resilience, noise reduction, ease of installation and maintenance, low life cycle cost, safety: railways rely on fasteners with these qualities from suppliers such as Alcoa, MxV Rail, LB Foster, Howmet, Lewis Bolt & Nut Company, Pandrol, Progress Rail, J. Lanfranco, Kawasaki Track Technologies and Vossloh North America to operate reliably and safely under heavy traffic ranging from heavy freight to rail transport at high speed via public transport.

To meet these requirements, vendors continue to make incremental updates to their system technologies. The age of the railway reached out to fastener system vendors to learn about their latest technologies, as well as market conditions following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The market remains strong after a slowdown due to the pandemic,” says Kawasaki Track Technologies. “The global semiconductor shortage has impacted supply. However, Kawasaki’s presence in the global market was able to handle the shortage.

“In 2022, we have seen steel prices climb,” adds George Apostolou, assistant vice president of sales for Lewis Bolt & Nut Company. “We are fortunate, however, to be a domestic manufacturer that is not dependent on foreign steel, which allows us to better control the supply of materials used to make our products.”

Here is an overview of the offers from suppliers who responded to our requests.

Kawasaki Track Technologies

Kawasaki Track Technologies, which “uses the latest in machine vision and machine learning technologies to inventory fasteners and detect potentially faulty fasteners”, announced in May 2022 the start of testing of a track fastener monitoring technology at the Japan. This technology, according to the company, when installed on a locomotive, “will capture high-resolution images and provide the necessary data for Kawasaki to use machine learning algorithms to identify potential track attachments that need to be inspected. and repaired”.

Kawasaki uses cameras and global positioning sensors to identify potential faults in track mounting systems. When the system is complete, it will provide near real-time exceptions to its customers to schedule maintenance, Kawasaki says.

Kawasaki plans to roll out similar tests in the North American freight rail industry this fall/winter and says it will begin piloting the monitoring system in early 2023. This technology, the company says, “will continue to expand Kawasaki’s autonomous track inspection technology to improve rail safety and operating efficiency. Kawasaki currently has an autonomous locomotive-mounted track geometry monitoring system that has been in production since 2021.

“Demand for innovative products that improve safety and operational efficiency continues to be high in the North American freight market,” says Kawasaki, adding that it expects this to continue into 2023 as that more federal funding will be available.

Progress track

Progress Rail’s DF block system “significantly improves the quality of DF fixing installations for standard and high attenuation units”.

From rail anchors and all styles of clips, to DFs (direct attach) and ballast mats, to switches, lift frogs and crossings for transit, commuter and HAL (load load) applications. axle), Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, provides a full range of fastening and special track solutions for heavy haul and transit railways, offering “one of the broadest fastening product portfolios in the world “. By offering innovative options, such as the e-Style clip, the resilient Loadmaster DF for timber sleepers and the ADFF55 high attenuation DF fastener, Progress Rail says it supports its customers’ efforts to “improve efficiency , quality of service and cost control”.

For example, according to the company, the DF block system significantly improves the quality of DF mounting installations for standard and high attenuation units. The product, according to Progress Rail, eliminates the risk of uneven support surface conditions, honeycombing in the concrete and incorrect elevation adjustment of the insert embedded in the concrete.

According to Progress Rail, on Section 1 of the Los Angeles Westside Purple Line, the DF Block system reduced installation time with less material handling and fewer personnel required for the same job. The DF block system “improves the life of DF units, reduces maintenance and provides significant initial installation savings over the 30+ year-old top-down construction technique,” the company explains. The age of the railroad.

MxV rail

MxV Rail continues to test elastic fastening systems for wooden sleepers.

When asked about the latest technologies he uses regarding his fastening systems, MxV Rail II Senior Engineer Yin Gao said The age of the railway that the company “continues to test elastic fastening systems for timber sleepers as they gain popularity in the rail freight industry for their high resistance to rail rollover and gauge widening, particularly on high degree and steep curves”.

“We are also testing a new rail shoe assembly design that allows for quick installation after repairing a worn metal shoulder for concrete sleepers,” Gao adds.

LB Foster

DF binding system bonded to LB Foster vulcanized rubber.

LB Foster Company has been supplying vulcanized rubber bonded DF fastening systems to transit agencies in the United States and Canada for over 40 years. The company’s Transit Products division “specializes in the design and development of noise and vibration mitigation and electrical isolation technologies for transit, commuter rail and freight applications.”

LB Foster offers a range of over 50 fixing systems, each “uniquely designed” to offer varying stiffness and resilience, rail seat width and height, lateral adjustment and anchor locations in an “easy-to-install single unit”. says the company. “Our engineering team partners with our customers to design new fastening applications to meet their specifications and design requirements,” says LB Foster. The age of the railway.

Additionally, LB Foster’s research and development team is currently prototyping and testing new versions of high-resilience DF fastener systems, “providing better noise and vibration attenuation than standard fasteners,” the company says.

“Our teams are looking for specialized coatings to extend the life of fastening systems used in highly corrosive environments. We are also working on designing our Low Vibration Traverses (LVT) to improve their performance and prevent debris and water intrusion into the boot and skid areas,” said LB Foster. The age of the railroad.

Lewis Bolt & Nut Company

Viper-1® rail anchor from Lewis Bolt and Nut Company.

Lewis Bolt & Nut Company’s most recent product launch is the Viper-1® drive-in anchor, says Apostolou, who adds that the Viper-1® exceeds American Railway Engineering and Maintenance Chapter 5, Section 7.1 -of-Way Association (AREMA). .4 requirements and has a minimum holding power of 9,000 pounds vs. 6,000 pounds (AREMA 7.1.4 Part B).

Additionally, the Viper-1® has a much higher reapplication rate than any current anchors on the market, says Apostolou. The anchor can be removed and reapplied multiple times due to the improved rigidity of the anchor jaw design.

Another key advantage of the Viper-1®, says Apostolou, is the larger bearing surface against the crosshead. The Viper-1® offers 75% more bearing surface than standard drive-in anchors. This results in increased fastener life, preventing movement and damage to the fastener surface. Additionally, Viper-1® offers an increased cycle life designed to last the life of the rail, adds Apostolou.

Lewis Bolt & Nut Company has two stand-alone facilities dedicated to manufacturing a variety of anchors nationwide. The company continues to work on incremental product improvements for customers and has looked internally to make its manufacturing process more efficient, Apostolou said.

When asked to comment on the company’s overall business outlook given the availability of federal money, Apostolou said, “It’s just very difficult to forecast an outlook for 2023, given the economic climate. current world,” adding, however, that the company “continues to communicate with its customers for any signs of weakness or strength in the future.”

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