Locomotive business Transnet Engineering, a division of State-owned freight transport group Transnet, has been ISO 3834-certified at its Durban and Koedoespoort facilities. This is an important step, as ISO 3834 is the basis for EN 15085 certification, which is a railway-specific quality standard.
Transnet Engineering’s EN 15085 certification will be facilitated by the Southern African Institute of Welding’s (SAIW’s) German partner, the German Society for Welding Technology (GSI SLV), which will manage the certification process with the assistance of the SAIW certification team.
Transnet Engineering’s certification process is part of its preparation for the work it will do for the main contractors in Transnet’s impending R50-billion locomotive upgrade. CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive (CSR) of China and global transportation company Bombardier Transportation SA (BTSA) will supply a total of 599 electric locomotives, while global infrastructure technologies, services and solutions provider GE South Africa and global infrastructure technologies, services and solutions provider China North Rail (CNR) will deliver 465 diesel locomotives. Certain of these contractors have stipulated that their subcontractors must be EN 15085-compliant.
SAIW certification CEO Herman Potgieter says there is a perception by many South African ISO 3834-certified fabricators that there is no need for specific EN 15085 certification as a result of the similarities between ISO 3834 and EN 15085. “This, however, is not the case and our fabricators, if they want to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, must not make this mistake,” he says.
He explains that EN 15085 dovetails with ISO 3834, which defines quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials in workshops and in the field, as its base requirement. It must be understood that EN 15085 is a product-specific standard for the construction, manufacturing and testing of welded rail vehicles. Thus, there are specific requirements in the EN 15085 standard to ensure the quality and safety of railway equipment. The original-equipment manufacturers (Bombardier, CSR and CNR), therefore, require that their subcontractors are EN 15085-certified in order to guarantee the quality and safety of the product they are manufacturing.
SAIW executive director Sean Blake says that, for the Chinese, this has special significance. “Transnet initially came under fire for ignoring rumours of dubious quality with respect to the Chinese tender winners, who will surely go to great lengths to ensure that their quality is nothing short of world class,” he adds.
One of the main quality- control measures will be EN 15085, which is an important standard in both Europe and China, with a total of 931 manufacturers having been certified in Germany and 360 in China. “These are indeed significant numbers in this limited fabrication sector and South African fabricators should take heed of them,” Blake says.
Potgieter says that Transnet Engineering’s ISO 3834 certification process went smoothly. “Bombardier Transportation has assisted Transnet in ensuring that the skills levels are in accordance with the relevant standards and we were very impressed with what we saw at Transnet Engineering– the attention to detail was outstanding and the equipment upgrade, which includes state-of-the-art manipulators and robotic welding equipment,was equally impressive.”
The locomotive project is the catalyst for Transnet Engineering uplifting skills levels to world-class standards. “This will have an important positive spin-off effect on the entire fabrication industry in South Africa,” concludes Potgieter.
About Transnet Engineering
Transnet Engineering is the backbone of South Africa’s railway industry, with eight product- focused businesses, 150 depots, seven factories and 15 000 employees countrywide. The organisation is dedicated to in-service maintenance, repair, upgrade, conversion and manufacture of freight wagons, mainline and suburban coaches, diesel and electric locomotives, as well as wheels, rotating machines, rolling stock equipment, casting, auxiliary equipment and services.