Local manufacturers poised to support sector

13th October 2023 By: Nadine Ramdass - Creamer Media Writer

Local manufacturers poised to support sector

LOCAL ASSISTANCE The local railway sector can take advantage of local manufacturers’ developing innovative equipment designed to meet specific challenges within the country

Local manufacturers are well positioned to support the South African railway and transportation sector through products, services and maintenance support tailored to the specific needs of the industry, says railway signalling equipment company ACTOM Signalling business development manager Nqobile Mthembu.

Such manufacturers can typically support all the equipment and systems used, which would contribute to the improvement of the overall efficiency, reliability and safety of the country’s transportation network.

Mthembu says the South African railway system is grappling with numerous challenges, including theft, vandalism, insufficient infrastructure and a lack of funding for maintenance and critical projects.

These challenges have resulted in significant disruptions and inefficiencies in the network, hindering the flow of goods and services.

She adds that a significant portion of the signalling infrastructure – such as interlocking systems, points machines and track detection equipment – urgently requires maintenance.

However, Mthembu points out that local specialist companies, such as ACTOM, are poised to address these challenges by conducting fault finding, repairing the systems or offering safe solutions to ensure that trains can operate seamlessly again.

She highlights the company’s recently completed rehabilitation project – which included the replacement, installation, testing and commissioning of vandalised and stolen signalling equipment – in KwaZulu-Natal, between the Reunion and Umlazi stations for commuter railway company Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

ACTOM was appointed as the main contractor to execute the installation, testing and commissioning of the signalling equipment, and completed the project within seven months.

Further, the local railway sector can take advantage of local manufacturers’ developing innovative equipment designed to meet specific challenges within the country.

Mthembu adds that Internet-of-Things technology, specifically, is changing how the railway signalling industry operates.

Railway operators can streamline operations, improve safety and reduce costs using devices that can communicate autonomously, track locations and monitor environmental conditions.

“Rail operators can now perform predictive maintenance, rather than reactive maintenance,” she says.

Additionally, ACTOM has a few significant products still under development.

The company has endeavoured to upgrade its existing yard automation system to comply with the client’s new directive.

The new directive will see the elimination of the yard master and local control panel, which will equate to less theft and vandalism.

The company is also in the early stages of developing a tamper-detection and condition-monitoring device, which can also be tailored to local requirements, Mthembu concludes.