Right on time and in line with the slogan “future track technology – NOW”, the Austrian technology leader Plasser & Theurer presents several new solutions tailored to meet current market needs. Technologies which facilitate an even more efficient use of existing capacities are central to these solutions.
(1) More than eight innovations installed on one machine
Plasser & Theurer proudly presents the Unimat 09-8x4/4S BR Dynamic E³, a cutting-edge combined machine for complete maintenance of tracks and turnouts. Existing ballast resources are used during the tamping process, which achieves a perfect result with just one machine.
Designed for optimised worksite logistics, the Unimat 09-8x4/4S BR Dynamic E³ track and turnout tamping machine combines the functions of several machines: ballasting, tamping, profiling, stabilising, surveying, and post-measuring. It was conceptualised as a versatile tamping machine that uses innovative technology while driving technological innovation.
The machine combines the newest features available as part of ModularCustomizing with technologies that serve research and development purposes. For example, an entirely new approach to the operating concept is being tested in practice. However, the Unimat 09-8x4/4S BR Dynamic E³ is not just a showpiece machine. In July of 2022, it is scheduled to start operation for Franz Plasser Vermietung von Bahnbaumaschinen, a Plasser & Theurer subsidiary.
The Unimat 09-8x4/4S BR Dynamic E³:
goals, economic aspects, benefits
- Machine profile: a combination of a turnout tamping machine with increased tamping output thanks to an 8x4 tamping unit. It offers complete ballast management thanks to a profiling, ploughing and sweeping unit, hoppers, a ballasting unit, and an integrated dynamic track stabiliser.
- Main application scenario: periodic track maintenance – very flexible thanks to a complete ballast profiling section and front plough so that maintaining new layers remains possible.
- Typical conditions: shorter construction sections with short track possessions
- This combined machine has obvious advantages in terms of cost effectiveness and efficiency compared to individual machines: there is no need for a drive unit for additional machines; this translates into cost savings throughout the entire life cycle of the machine.
- Saves time and simplifies planning: the work sequences are carried out in a uniform, coordinated manner.
- Provides a solution to the increasing shortage of skilled staff: operation is possible with only five people.
(2) Plasser BallastMaster
Cost-effective and flexible ballast profile maintenance
The new ballast regulating machines in the Plasser BallastMaster series can be set up variably. With their wide performance range, they are compatible with a great number of track and turnout tamping machines. The only way to reduce the costs of modern track maintenance is through an optimum combination of tamping, stabilising, and profiling.
Innovations for greater efficiency and cost effectiveness
The two-part shoulder ploughs can be adapted to any ballast shoulder without infringing the clearance gauge of an adjacent track - even when setting up the machine. The ballast collected by the shoulder ploughs is picked up and distributed in the area of the ballast crown. >Neue Kehrbürste für alle Schwellentypen
>A new sweeper brush for all types of sleepers
The newly developed adjustable brush shaft enables maintenance of all sleeper types. Until now, the entire brush shafts had to be changed depending on the application scenario, which was a labour-intensive and time-consuming process. With the new sweeper brush, this is no longer necessary, and there is no need to carry a replacement brush. The brush shaft adjusts continuously.
>Sweeping unit with flexible ballast distribution
With the new generation, it is possible to select flexible distribution ratios: one third of the ballast into the hopper and two thirds onto the shoulders or vice versa. Of course, it is still possible to transfer the entire ballast into the hopper.
>Steep conveyor belt with higher output and less dust
>Ballast hopper increases savings potential and cost efficiency
>Optimised ergonomic design for cabs and servicing
Choosing the ideal design
The right technology is crucial to achieving the best technical and commercial results:
- high working speed – adapted to the output of the tamping machines or other high-capacity machines used
- high sweeping output with perfect results
(3) Machine communication – putting the puzzle together
The end-to-end process of digitalised track maintenance is like a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces that have to fit together perfectly. We will be demonstrating several such technological components and how they work together at iaf 2022 in Münster.
The first fully automated machine-to-machine communication
What typically happens is that a track inspection vehicle, such as an EM120VT, provides an exact measurement of the track geometry and sends the measuring data to a track maintenance machine via the cloud. Thanks to its integrated measuring systems, the
Unimat 09-4x4/4S E³ can also take care of the measurement itself. This means the operator no longer has to feed surveying data into the tamping machine.
The tamping machine’s automatic guiding computer takes the measuring data from the cloud and guides the tamping of the track section or the turnout. The subsequent tamping report is then generated fully automatically and in conformity with the applicable standards. In addition, the results of pre- and post-measuring can be entered directly into the infrastructure manager’s database.
Digitalisation boosts efficiency
These individual pieces are coming together for the first time to form a complete picture: the automated end-to-end process. Time-consuming manual work is no longer necessary, making the process less error-prone and less stressful for operators. The live demonstration at iaf is an impressive display of how digitalisation and networking are key to optimising efficiency in track maintenance.
(4) Retrofit of track renewal machine SUM Q-3
Plasser & Theurer retrofits are becoming increasingly popular. This comes as no surprise: we as the manufacturer have the perfect prerequisites for performing excellent work. That was also the reason why the SUM-Q3, operated by DB Bahnbau Gruppe, travelled to Linz on 22 December 2021 for a revision that included a retrofit.
The SUM-Q3, dubbed the “Buffalo”, is a track renewal machine that uses the assembly-line method. This machine series was developed in the 1980s, and its predecessors have been built since the 1960s. Thanks to integrated ballast management including optional storage of ballast in MFS units (material conveyor and hopper units), the machine concept is still state of the art. That’s what the DB Bahnbau Gruppe operating company and its crew appreciate in the SUM-Q3, even though it’s been in operation for twelve years. The machine has renewed 1,350 km of track to date, primarily on main lines but also on secondary lines. In the past year alone, its output was around 120 km.
Plasser & Theurer: an obvious choice
In 2021, the time for a comprehensive machine revision had come. There were no doubts about carrying it out. Experience has shown that the service life of this machine type is between 20 and 30 years. For the customer, there were three arguments in favour of the revision and the retrofit. First, staff is already perfectly familiar with the machine. Once the work has been completed, the machine can go straight back into operation. Second, the costs are significantly lower than the purchase price of a new machine. Third, the machine will return to operation more quickly.
In late July 2021, Plasser & Theurer was tasked with the revision. The reasons were equally convincing and included, above all, manufacturer know-how. In Linz, Plasser & Theurer has access to all design documents. Using them for reference, the work can be performed in line with the machine’s original form. The infrastructure available in Linz is just as essential. The 114 m long SUM-Q3 was built in exactly the same factory hall where it is now being reconditioned. As an added bonus, some members of staff had participated in manufacturing the machine and therefore were perfectly familiar with it. For speedy project completion, it is also ideal if repair parts are produced directly on-site.
Customer staff members participate actively on-site
The contract includes all work that is defined in all standards as part of a 10-year revision. This includes the inspection and reconditioning of bogies, braking technology, hydraulics, electrics, and engines, which makes up around 95 % of all work to be performed. Further, individual upgrades were planned. They mostly included design modifications to extend the service life of certain wear parts.
Back on track in June of 2022
In May 2022, the Buffalo has already left Linz, and its first renewal work is planned for June. The operating company emphasises that its service life will be extended by 12 years, possibly even more.
Eco-retrofits The future of tamping
The latest experiences with electrically powered tamping units prove that the future of tamping is electrifying. The economic and environmental benefits of electrification speak for themselves. Plasser & Theurer now offers the eco-retrofit kit, an upgrade from hydraulic work units to electric work units. This way, existing machines can benefit from its advantages.
Advantages of the electrically powered tamping unit
-Less fuel consumption thanks to reduced rotational speed of the drive engine during working mode and reduced power consumption while increasing total efficiency
- Higher efficiency thanks to improved response time of the electric motors
- Lower noise emissions thanks to lower idling speed
- Reduced wear thanks to higher rotational speed during penetration
- Heat development reduction of the entire system thanks to reduced hydraulics
- New opportunity for powering other components electrically (e.g. AC unit, heating system, ventilation unit, and measuring systems such as the Levelling and Alignment Laser/Curve Alignment Laser)