Set up in response to quality and cost needs demanded by Network Rail, Trackwork Moll has spent a considerable amount of time and money in getting its production facilities up to full capacity and is now producing over 300,000 sleepers per year
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. The joint venture was originally set up in response to quality and cost needs demanded by the network, and a ten-year contract was agreed with Network Rail to ensure sleeper supply met the demand of the network’s infrastructure improvement plans. With a total production capacity of 400,000 concrete sleepers per annum, the company has enough capacity to satisfy these 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.
Benefiting from being a relatively young company, Doncaster-based Trackwork Moll’s technology is stateof- the-art. The sleeper manufacturing facilities consist of two production systems, a long casting line and a carousel system. Together, they are capable of quick and cost-effective order delivery, and are capable of boosting efficiency without sacrificing quality. Furthermore, because it operates from a purpose built, brand new factory, many of the processes are automated, and this eliminates a degree of human error and further ensures quality is maintained.
Previously featured in Railway Strategies in March 2016, when the company was progressing with the stabilisation of production and migrating from a construction and engineering site to a fully operational factory, Trackwork Moll has continued with a ‘business as usual’ mentality as it remains focused on further improving efficiency and ensuring all necessary skills and capabilities are up to speed.
“Not much has changed since we last spoke, we have really been working flat out to almost full capacity 24 hours a day, five days a week; this has made operations more efficient through the utilisation and the sweating of our assets, so to speak, to ensure we can keep up with demand,” begins Chris Dale, General Manager of Trackwork Moll.
“However, to further boost efficiency we are now up and running with an investment in EG47 moulds, which has increased our capacity for these products. This development was in line with an increase in demand for EG47s; this could be due to Network Rail moving from one supplier to another, or could possibly be the cycle of track renewals, which has resulted in a short-term increase in demand for EG47s instead of G44s.
“Alongside this development, Network Rail have recently swapped around the TRS machines, and we now service TRS4 based out of Tyne on the east coast. We are pleased that we can continually offer support for both methods of track renewals,” he adds.
“The TRS4 enables us to recharge the pods on a pallet system, which then feeds into the TRS machine like a cassette; when doing track renewals it continuously loads sleepers in while taking the old sleepers out, and then reballasts them. It is a massive undertaking,” says Chris. “Our efficiency in loading is very slick, with Network Rail coining it ‘Load and Go’, which means we can turn around trains much more quickly than our competitors and meet any short notice requirements.”
Although these developments have enhanced operations, over the next 12 months Trackwork Moll will continue to drive improvement initiatives when it comes to safety, quality, machine availability and performance in the factory. “We have a continuing focus on improvement and are using modern manufacturing techniques such as OEE, 5S and so on to facilitate and drive through an outstanding performance,” says Chris.
“Looking further ahead, we hope to consolidate our position in the market and drive volumes forward to capture more of the market; however, because the market is fairly split as Network Rail has one company servicing the east coast and another on the west coast, it really depends on the government’s spending plan and Network Rail’s spending plan for asset renewals over the next three years. In addition to our work with Network Rail, we also are exploring third party contracts in the coming years in sectors such as power generation and urban transport systems. Nothing is guaranteed but the market looks steady and the future looks positive for us,” Chris concludes.