System on track

26/03/2008 - 22:00

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A local engineering group has been awarded nearly $3 million by the federal government to fast track the commercialisation of technology that is designed to save rail companies time and money.

System on track

A local engineering group has been awarded nearly $3 million by the federal government to fast track the commercialisation of technology that is designed to save rail companies time and money.

West Perth-based JRB Engineering Group won the grant for its specialised railway services arm MRX Technologies.

The money will further advance the company’s development of an instrument designed to enhance rail safety through the early identification of wear and faults either on the train or on the rail line.

Operations manager Ian Lennard said the technology would serve as a one-stop-shop, automatic inspection system that was built on the side of a rail line and measured various aspects of a train as it traveled past the system.

Another feature of the system can be mounted onto the bottom of a train, be it passenger, coal or iron ore wagons, which then measures certain aspects of the track.

The data is then collected and sent back to users at scattered sites either through a local area network, radio, internet or mobile phone.

“If you know, as the train goes past, the history or how fast the wheels are wearing you can plan your wheel maintenance and axle replacement program accordingly,” he said.

“Or you can turn it the other way.

If you know a bit about where the points on your track where the gauge has slipped beyond recommended maximums, then you can do something about it.” “All of this sort of work is being progressed significantly by the commer cial ready grant, instead of doing it over a 10-year period it’ll enable us to do it over the life of the grant.” The grant will be paid in installments over a three-year period up to 2010.

Mr Lennard added that the system would serve as a cost saving measure for rail operators and companies, with savings of thousands of dollars in fixing train or track problems before it debilitates an operation.

MRX Technologies, established in 1996, has been working on this technology over the past five years and has also developed and commissioned other railway products in Australia, Europe and Asia.

In 2003, the company was awarded a $6 million contract by the state government for on-train communications equipment for the Mandurah railway.

JRB was one of several companies to receive $2 million-plus grants in the latest round of Commercial Ready funding.

The grant has to be matched by private sector funding.

Other Western Australian companies to receive smaller Commercial Ready grants for 2008 include Secure Systems Ltd ($249,737), Labfit Pty Ltd ($248,739) and Gene Stream Pty Ltd ($629,783).

Overall $23.6 million in grant money was awarded to 40 companies nationally.

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