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Tracking on Innovation

Wallsend manufacturer of railway track maintenance equipment, Melvelle Equipment Corp Pty Ltd, has invented a very neat little railway vehicle for track inspections and for retrieving injured persons from tunnels or viaducts where traditional vehicles are not practical.

Called the Lightweight Rapid Deployment Rail Trolley, it was designed, built and tested by Melvelle Equipment, who are now looking for customers in Australia and worldwide.

“The building of the trolley threw up several challenges for us,” said managing director Andrew Melvelle. These included:

  • No component over 20kg unless it’s a two-person lift with a maximum 40kg;
  • 20km range at 10km/h;
  • Setup time and dismantling time for two people in under three minutes; and
  • Able to be transported in the back of a utility.

“Achieving these targets meant had to develop new skills in design, welding, electronics and understanding new standards,” Andrew said.

“The building of the trolley threw up several challenges for us,” said managing director Andrew Melvelle. These included:

  • No component over 20kg unless it’s a two-person lift with a maximum 40kg;
  • 20km range at 10km/h;
  • Setup time and dismantling time for two people in under three minutes; and
  • Able to be transported in the back of a utility.

“Achieving these targets meant had to develop new skills in design, welding, electronics and understanding new standards,” Andrew said.

“In addition, we kept the weight down by using metal mesh decking and carbon fibre. Our employees love being part of a company that manufactures a complete product that performs such important functions.

“We used a number of local suppliers to help us: Custom Fluid Power, Catavolt and SWP Welding,” Andrew added.

The trolley has a number of operating advantages and exceeded initial expectations:

  • It can be assembled and dismantled by two people in under three minutes and removed from track in an emergency by four people in under 90 seconds (important when you are working in an operational rail corridor);
  • Its total weight, including batteries, is 160Kg compared with the nearest competitor of 280kg;
  • Has a maximum payload of 500kg;
  • Velocity up to 30km/hour;
  • Range up to 100km at 10km/h; and
  • Can carry a stretcher.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in Australia from various rail networks, as well as overseas with enquiries from the UAE, UK, USA, Poland and Thailand,” Andrew said.

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