Revolution in Tamping

Revolution in Tamping

Rhomberg Sersa has built innovation into its core and is a leader in creating and implementing new technologies.

Rhomberg Sersa Ireland recently achieved a world first by installing System7 technology onto an Irish Rail Plasser & Theurer 08 dual compact tamper.

Previous installations in other countries have seen the System7 technology installed on Unimat Tampers but installation of this equipment onto a Compact Tamper had yet to be tried - until now.

The five week project by the highly skilled Maintenance Team at Rhomberg Sersa Ireland saw the installation of the next generation technology on the On Track Machine (OTM).

The project had been proposed by Rhomberg Sersa Ireland as part of the tendering process and the client, Irish Rail, embraced the new technology and the benefits it could bring.

Tom Ruane, Infrastructure Production Manager with Irish Rail’s Chief Civil Engineer department, who is the manager responsible for the fleet of On Track Machines (OTMs ) said Irish Rail had been working to renew or refurbish OTMs since 2008.

“These are highly specialised and expensive assets to buy,” he said. “Aside from the cost, it can take two and a half to three years from placing an order to receiving a new machine and having it commissioned to operate on the Irish Rail network."

“We can get 30 years out of these machines and new technology helps us sweat the asset and prolong their working life.”

Prior to opting for the System7 technology, significant research was carried out by the wider Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group. The wealth of knowledge within the RSRG group meant that various options could be assessed quickly and in depth. The different companies looked at were Plasser & Theurer (Austria), Matisa (Switzerland), Harsco (US) and its subsidiaries and Loram (US).

These market examinations determined that the System7 tamping technology was unique to the industry and would be suitable for the Irish Rail compact tamper.

System7 tamping banks are a unique product as rotating parts are redundant. The tamping banks have a full hydraulic drive and the bank vibrates only during penetration and compaction of the ballast. The technology also ‘reads’ the ballast and adjusts the penetration and squeeze pressure accordingly depending on its condition.

For example, if maximum force is not required, it will use a lesser and more appropriate force for the immediate conditions it is dealing with. As less pressure is applied when appropriate, the ballast retains its shape for longer and therefore potentially have a longer life span. Thanks to the lack of rotating parts, there is a huge reduction in overhaul and repair costs resulting in a longer life cycle for the tamping banks.

The new tamping banks have also delivered better post tamping results. The noise emitted is reduced significantly in comparison with older tamping banks. The reduction of noise emissions, vibrations and silica dust of up to 50%, minimises the burden on the operator and the environment.

In 2014 System7 tamping technology was fitted to an existing Bahnbau Wels (an RSRG company based in Austria) owned P&T 08- 475/4S Unimat commissioned in 2001 which continued to use P&T ALC post installation. The objective of the exercise was to prove the technology. In 2016 a combined tamper and ballast regulating unit was ordered from System7 and this machine was delivered in 2019. This machine is currently operating under licence from the Austrian equivalent of the CRR and is working production shifts successfully.

The new tamping banks were installed on the Irish Rail machine last year and are fully operational and delivering superb results for both Irish Rail and Rhomberg Sersa Ireland.