Sheffield-based rail maintenance equipment specialist, Mechan, has installed the largest single system of lifting jacks in the UK at the Alstom Transport Traincare Centre in Longsight near Manchester.
The 44-jack system, which is the biggest ever produced by Mechan, will be used to service the new 11 car Alstom-built Pendolino trains being introduced on the West Coast Mainline. Mechan saw off competition from Europe and China to secure the contract, which involved designing a completely new version of its Microlink jack control system, to accommodate such a large number of jacks.
The firm also had to manufacture a taller version of its standard jack to enable the system to operate within the practical constraints of the depot. Richard Carr, Mechan’s managing director, said: “This project marks a significant step forward for Microlink and consequentially the application of our jacks.
It has taken seven months to develop software that will lift such a large network without losing the flexibility and synchronicity for which the system is renowned and we are very pleased with the results. To accomplish such a notable ‘first’ for the UK rail industry is a massive achievement and we are confident that it will increase global interest in Mechan’s products.” The patented Microlink jack control system enables a network of jacks to be operated from anywhere in the chain, via a single cable.
This latest phase of development has increased the system’s capacity and seen the addition of a touch screen panel that provides the user with constant feedback during the maintenance process. By combining off the shelf hardware and bespoke software, Mechan has revolutionised its Microlink control system, offering a technically and commercially viable system for the synchronised lifting of multiple rail cars, without losing any of its flexibility.
Dave Walton, Alstom’s senior site services manager, said: “The brief for this project was very specific and a number of factors had to be taken into account, not least the size of the system required and the depot layout. Mechan provided us with a very competitive solution that offered the right balance of engineering expertise and progressive technology.
This, combined with the firm’s reputation for excellent after sales care, sealed the deal. Installation of the jacks was completed on time and within budget and we are looking forward to fully utilising the system in the months to come as the 11 car project progresses.”