Light sleepers

Supplying Network Rail’s entire demand for concrete sleepers is no small feat for any manufacturer, but at only five years old Trackwork Moll is proving itself as wholly capable as it continues to drive improvements and capacity expansion into its operations

Founded in 2011 as a joint venture between Trackwork of Doncaster and Leonhard Moll Betonwerke of Munich, Trackwork Moll is a key strategic concrete sleeper supply partner for Network Rail. With infrastructure projects continuing to develop across the company, the JV was set up in response to quality and cost needs demanded by the network and a ten-year contract was agreed upon to supply such high demand. With a total production capacity of 400,000 concrete sleepers per annum, the company has enough capacity to satisfy such volumes and in doing so is well on its way to becoming the UK’s foremost expert in concrete sleeper manufacture turning out both G44 and EG47 units.

Trackwork Moll Issue 127 bSleeper production at the company consists of two systems, a long casting line and a carousel system, which combine to give it a very quick and cost effective delivery process. Being a relatively young facility as well means that much of the technology used is start-of-the-art.

Railway Strategies last featured Trackwork Moll back in May 2015 when it had recently reached 100 per cent production capacity after months of hard work and development. Nearly a year on and new General Manager, Chris Dale, is pleased to report that progress within the facility is going well. “The general view of the company over the last year has been one of stabilising production as we transfer the plant from a construction and engineering site to a fully operational factory,” he says. “One particular focus has been on improving our efficiency so a lot of time and money has been invested into our people and our equipment to ensure that all the necessary skills and capabilities are up to speed.”

Echoing the company’s core remit of supplying challenging demands from Network Rail, Chris goes on to highlight Trackwork Moll’s competence in quick and flexible delivery. “We have a very good loading and stockyard capacity,” he explains. “Network Rail like our load-and-go offering, in that we can load full trains and have them immediately dispatched to the various projects across the network in a very short timeframe. Not only does our skilled and flexible workforce facilitate this, but it is also the result of an extremely healthy consultative relationship with our client. We are very much integrated within their operations and are communicating on a daily basis as to forecasted requirements and any last minute changes to those. It is this relationship of flexibility and proactive communication that ensures the end contractor gets their requirements on time and as expected.”

With such positivity resulting from the Network Rail contract, Trackwork Moll is starting to turn its attention towards the wider market as it looks to occupy a leading position in the UK industry. Chris points out the supply channels present through its JV parent company, Trackwork, through which Trackwork Moll is able to distribute. “We are also looking to supply out to the Nexus project in Tyne and Wear, so there are several things in place outside of our immediate focus,” he says.trackwork Moll Issue 127 c

Supporting these aspirations, increasing capacity and improving efficiency within the Doncaster site will be a key feature of the company’s future. Keen to expand its ability to produce higher volumes of the lighter EG47 sleeper, the early half of 2016 will see considerable investment into new sleeper moulds. “Not only will this give us more capacity of EG47 availability for our customers but it will also give us greater flexibility and efficiency right across the plant,” says Chris. “As we move even further forward we will also be looking into introducing new processes to manufacture sleepers with under sleeper pads to bring about a more diverse offering.”

As for the immediate focus Trackwork Moll will continue its drive towards continuous improvement within the factory in relation to production efficiency and product quality. “Maintaining the training of our staff will be a key part of this,” Chris concludes. “Everything we do in this respect is underpinned first and foremost by safety, closely followed by productivity and quality. Making sure we are consistently developing these will play a key role in how we move forward from here.”

It is clear for anyone to see just how hard Trackwork Moll has worked over the past five years to set up such a modern facility and meet such high production volumes so quickly. Last year’s milestone of reaching the supposed production capacity of the facility could have easily been considered its biggest success, yet its continued drive for improvements and expansion arguably top this as it looks to cement its position in the UK industry even further. With new infrastructure projects coming onto the market all the time from both Network Rail and other UK networks, the future for Trackwork Moll and its growing production capacity looks bright.