A can-do attitude at rail depot equipment specialist, Mechan, is helping to keep the industry on track during the coronavirus pandemic
The Sheffield manufacturer worked at full capacity throughout lockdown and continues to honour its service and delivery commitments, providing vital support to the facilities making trains available for key workers. In the six months from April to September this year, Mechan’s engineers completed 212 service visits to rail depots across the UK and beyond, with one member of the team spending four weeks in Egypt installing a bogie drop supplied to the Cairo Metro.
Accomplishing this level of consistency has required considerable changes to the firm’s operational procedures. Site visits now follow strict social distancing and sanitisation rules, whilst those undertaken during the first period of lockdown had to be coordinated with the engineer that lived closest, as hotels were unavailable. This increased travel times, which impacted on the working day and in many cases, extended the job’s length.
Lindsey Mills, Mechan’s Sales Manager, said: ‘If we had not continued to work during lockdown, depots may have been unable to maintain trains, leading to potential complications replacing those not in service. Because we use local products and suppliers, wherever possible, we haven’t experienced any stock issues caused by the pandemic, enabling us to keep our in-house and partner products running without unnecessary downtime. This is critical to the levels of continuity we achieve and continues to be appreciated by our clients.’
Covid-19 has not only impacted onsite teams, but also Mechan’s head office. The majority of staff have worked from home since late-March, helping the firm become less paper dependent and changes have been made in its factory to facilitate social distancing, with commissions now being completed by the same operative from start to finish.
Collaboration at Clacton
One of the projects Mechan has played a key role in during the pandemic is the transformation of the train lifting facility at Greater Anglia’s Clacton depot.
The firm joined forces with other equipment suppliers to prepare the depot for a new fleet of Stadler bi-mode trains, being introduced on regional routes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. This required the entire train lifting facility to be redeveloped – the biggest project undertaken at the site in years.
As the Stadler fleet is heavier and longer than its predecessors, additional jacks were needed to increase the capacity of the existing system. Mechan was approached to provide four new 18-tonne jacks to work alongside an original set of 16 supplied by another manufacturer. The extra jacks and increased weight of the trains meant the entire floor (the length of four carriages) had to be levelled and strengthened to meet tolerance requirements.
The firm’s standard jack motor and gearbox were modified for Clacton, to ensure the four units had the same lift speed as its current set. A castor wheelbase was also added so they could be moved around the depot. The original jack supplier then integrated Mechan’s equipment into its new control system and the two companies worked together to ensure a smooth, synchronised lift.
Lindsey added: ‘The team at Clacton was very happy with the result of this collaboration, which is now enabling the new train fleet to be maintained safely and efficiently. We were pleased to be able to deliver such an involved project in a timely manner, despite the challenging conditions and enable the depot to continue improving the service offered to passengers in the region.’
For more information about Mechan’s servicing capabilities and depot maintenance equipment, get in touch with them via the information below.
Tel: 0114 257 0563