R200-million rail yards project
In mid-2012 leading railway signalling systems specialist company ACTOM Signalling was awarded one of the most challenging projects it has undertaken for many years – five contracts totalling R200-million in value to upgrade the yard controls at 10 yards around South Africa.
The contracts were awarded by Transnet Capital Projects on behalf of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), following tenders issued at the end of 2011.
The 10 yards covered by the five contracts are Elandsfontein and Capital Park in Gauteng, Richards Bay, Nsezi and Fynnlands in Kwazulu-Natal, Bellville in the Western Cape, Postmasburg in the Northern Cape, and Coega, Green Street and Foreshore in the Eastern Cape.
“The new yard control system is a semi-automated system that replaces the existing manually-operated mechanical system, in which points sets are thrown by a yard operator on the tracks,” said Peter Colborne, ACTOM Signalling’s General Manager.
The new yard automation system consists at each yard of a number of local control areas, each of which incorporates a local control panel (LCP) and a number of object controllers housed in equipment enclosures. Each object controller controls a points machine, points indicator and the axle-counter evaluators which provide vacancy detection across each points set. Each object controller provides a Safety Integrity Level 2 (SIL2) electronic interlocking system for the points set, indicator and vacancy detector it controls, including communication with the LCP.
Yard operators are provided with two levels of control, either with a push-button on the side of the points indicator or remotely from the LCP. When controlling from the LCP, the yard operator is provided with a display of the track layout and the status of each points set. He/she can select and throw points machines with either a mouse command on the VDU or a keypad and push-button selection. The track layout and status indications are duplicated in the Yard Master’s office.
“In our bid for these contracts we offered two solutions – one consisting of a mix of existing equipment and purpose-designed equipment that we would have to develop, while the alternative solution involved developing all the key equipment from scratch,” Colborne explained.
“TFR selected the lower-cost alternative option, a decision which we view as a major vote of confidence in ACTOM’s product development team.
“An additional complication was that the execution of the contracts overlapped with the development of the new equipment, resulting in us having to start manufacturing some of the products before the development work had been completed. Consequently we had to modify early points machines and points indicators,” he commented.
“However, TFR later extended the completion dates of all the contracts by three months to allow us more time to develop and test the new equipment. The individual contracts are now scheduled for commissioning by early-December this year.
“The contracts required the design and development of a new points machine, points indicator and axle-counter with features specifically applicable to yard control. This was the most challenging part of the whole project, because all of these new items of equipment had to be developed, tested and proven within a very short time-span,” Colborne stressed.
ACTOM Signalling arranged with sister company ACTOM Mechanical Equipment, which is situated next door to its Driehoek, Germiston, premises, to provide assistance by undertaking the assembly under its supervision of the points machines, points indicators and equipment enclosures on spare factory floor space it had available for the purpose.
“This has been a great help towards enabling us to keep pace with the contract requirements and tight deadlines of the project,” said Colborne.
ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is the largest manufacturer, solution provider, repairer and distributor of electro-mechanical equipment in Africa, offering a winning and balanced combination of manufacturing, service, repairs, projects and distribution through its 37 distribution outlets throughout Southern Africa.
ACTOM is also a major local supplier of electrical equipment, services and balance of plant to the renewable energy projects.
It also holds numerous technology, distribution and value added reseller agreements with various partners, both locally and internationally.
For further information contact Peter Colborne, ACTOM Signalling
PO Box 4583, Germiston South 1411
Tel (011) 871-6600 Fax (011) 871-6868
Press release compiled by Julian Kraft, J Kraft Public Relations
PO Box 2826 Wilropark 1731
Tel (011) 472-6686 Fax 086-613-9657
Date: February 13, 2014
Caption: This picture shows some of the yard control equipment installed at Foreshore, Port Elizabeth.