Robel: New Era in Japanese Rail Maintenance
JR East takes delivery of the company's first Robel Mobile Maintenance System. There was a traditional opening ceremony at the Ueda depot.
The ROREXS rail exchange system from Robel is one of the world’s leading machines for the delivery and collection of long welded rails.
With over 50 years’ experience and over 90 systems delivered worldwide, the German manufacturer has developed a global network of customers and a clear understanding of the most critical factors in the handling of long welded rails: safety, fast and reliable operation, and cost- efficient service. Fundamental to this aim is the development of automatic processes in order to:
Automation is key in driving improvement in safety, productivity and cost-efficiency. However, it is also important that the design is simple and reliable, allows easy maintenance and ensures dependable performance as well as built-in redundancy. The latest ROREXS is now controlled by just two operators from the safety and comfort of the rail manipulator cab. Automation enables the safe remote operation of the rail clamping station, as well as the roller gates, end retaining wall and the satellite rail chute (picture 2). The operator no longer needs to venture on to the trackside near moving rail and machinery, or undertake tasks working at height on transport wagons. This has the additional benefit that operations can be undertaken under live overhead line offering significant cost and time savings as no isolation is required. In addition, with auto limiters on the rail manipulator and the assurance that no operators need go on to the track, single line operation with adjacent lines open to traffic at line speed is also possible.
The total capacity depends very much on the operator’s permitted loading gauge, with a maximum of 50 rails. ROREXS loads and unloads UIC60/S49 rail from 30m up to 500m in length, handles all standard flat bottom sections up to 68kg/m and also accommodates prefabricated insulated rail joints. Rails are delivered with great care and precision across a 4m lateral range (2m either side of the track’s centre line). A special new side-roller system (picture 3) on the roller gates and spring-loaded chute wagon ensures the rails and any special coating are protected at all times and the rail is delivered in rolling-mill condition. Similarly, in the recovery operation, service rails are processed carefully and their condition stays well maintained creating the opportunity of onward cascading from primary to secondary routes.
At every stage of the working process the system allows for built-in redundancy with a manual backup for all operations. Roller gates could be manually operated with speed and efficiency, at ground level from either side of the train, with a hand drill on a worm drive system. Similarly, the clamping station, chute system and end walls are also quickly and efficiently managed manually if necessary.
Planning a rail delivery depends on continuously varying factors and trains quite often arrive on site in the wrong direction for offloading. Customers have therefore long called for an adaptable rail delivery train to offload rail from either end of the system. On ROREXS, the manipulator is quickly rotated through 180 degrees and the satellite chute is readily deployed from either end of the transport system to allow a dual-ended system for loading and offloading. The new automatic clamping station (picture 4) secures to the rail foot, rather than is traditional to the rail end, and is configured in the centre of the train. This provides the combined advantage of rapid and safe rail clamping and unclamping together with bi-directional working flexibility. Furthermore, for the manual system, which encapsulated the complete rail, the clamps had to match the rail section. Changing from UIC60 to S49 would therefore require the laborious process of changing over each individual rail clamp. With automatic clamping to the foot of the rail, however, different clamps are no longer required for different rail sections saving considerable time and effort.
A fully loaded transport system is usually deployed at multiple sites over several shifts with specific rail grades needed at each site. Traditional systems require the rail to be unloaded from the top down through subsequent layers. One failed shift could therefore impact the complete week’s plan. The new clamping station allows for delivery from any level, not just from the top layer, giving the operator more freedom on rail grade selection.
The former chute wagon design of ROREXS required a special engineered wagon with channels running through the deck of the wagon. The latest design of the satellite chute system paves the way for the equipment to be attached directly on to a standard container wagon offering considerable customer savings.
This design update also gives the flexibility of equipment mounted on a twist lock-compatible frame attached to customer wagons. Alternatively, depending on customer specification, all equipment can be welded on to purpose-built wagons.
The automated ROREXS delivers time and labour savings both for site and depot operations. Traditional work processes typically required additional safety provisions with four operators working on the track and often at height.
With the fully automated systems
A faster system with greater operational flexibility, reliability and in-built redundancy means fewer aborted shifts and more operational efficiency.
Depending on operational demands and customer budget, Robel refines the specification and level of automation to meet all requirements. For each element, be it roller gates, clamping, end wall, chute system or rail manipulator, the company can deliver a safe and efficient fully manual right through to a highly sophisticated fully automated solution.
Robel will also support a range of delivery models from conventional build and supply, build to lease and full service support including maintenance and operations.
Use the form opposite to get in touch with ROBEL directly to discuss any requirements you might have.