Long life reliability
With more than 100 years of engineering experience, LPA Group Plc is a leading manufacturer and supplier of connection systems and LED lighting, as well as electronic and electro mechanical systems
The LPA Group enjoys worldwide sales of circa £20 million and employs 200 people across three locations within the UK, with its headquarters situated in Saffron Walden close to Cambridge. Consisting of four divisions – LPA Connection Systems, LPA Excil Electronics, LPA Haswell Engineers and LPA Channel Electric – over its history these companies have developed strong reputations for innovation, are fully ISO 9001 certified and are committed to further increase the LPA Group’s enviable position as a trusted solution provider.
LPA Connection Systems
LPA connectors originate from the marine market and are installed in hostile environments throughout the railway industry and beyond. The Group’s history within the rail sector dates back to its work with the former British Rail HST fleet and Mark 3 passenger carriages, giving the company five decades of experience in the rail market. The company maintains long-lasting relationships with key industry clients like Hitachi and works in partnership to share three-dimensional CAD models with clients to ultimately develop a bespoke solution, optimised to fit into the space envelope available on the rail vehicle.
“We communicate on an engineer-to-engineer basis with clients and embed ourselves as much as possible in the development of the project. This enables us to fully understand what the customer is aiming to achieve,” explains LPA Connection Systems Sales Director, Nick Wheeler. “We also possess comprehensive facilities for installation mock-ups and to test the dynamic performance of the inter-car jumpers and validate the longevity of the units to satisfy the requirements of modern contracts and deliver a robust and proven system.”
For Hitachi’s IEP and AT200 fleets, LPA has designed bespoke IP66 enclosures that are fitted onto the vehicle body-ends to provide electrical connections across the inter-car gap. Whilst the boxes are new designs, the box construction and the internal connection system designs utilise existing modules with a proven rail pedigree, offering Hitachi the confidence that the installation would perform reliably and provide a long-life solution. The boxes and Jumper cables were mounted on LPA’s Dynamic Test rig and, using movements to replicate intervehicle movements encountered during a typical day in IEP service, they were tested for a simulated 15 years of service and passed without any issues.
The products designed and manufactured by LPA Connection Systems also include its revolutionary 10Gbit/s Ethernet connector, which represents the first connector of its kind designed for use on rolling stock and its performance has been independently validated by third party test houses. The 4S-10G® Ethernet connectors quickly found applications within the comprehensive range of robust LPA inter-car jumpers and have successfully been retrofitted to multiple UK fleets. “This world first innovation required a lot of research and development work, as well as an extensive amount of validation to ensure that the final product was in line with the consistently high standards of the LPA brand,” says Managing Director, Greg Howell. “The new Ethernet technology was taken through all the usual Shock & Vibration and Dynamic testing, but additionally we conducted flex life testing of Ethernet cables and tested the product for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), both to the current EN standard that modern rolling stock complies with, as well as more rigorous RIA 12 certification applicable to older legacy fleets.”
LPA Lighting Systems
Becoming part of the LPA Group at the turn of the Millennium, LPA Lighting Systems is a market leader in the design and manufacture of LED lighting systems for railway rolling stock and other high reliability markets. As a key player in the field of industrial lighting LPA Lighting Systems has continued to develop its range of products and has also recently taken the decision to rebrand. As Sales Director, Robin Capel-Dunn reveals: “As of mid-February 2017 the company name will change from LPA Excil Electronics to LPA Lighting Systems in order to better reflect the core activities of the business. During the past five years we have continued to expand into new areas such as industrial lighting and we believe that the name LPA Lighting Systems says more about what we do. This is a very exciting time for our company as this name change will come alongside the move to a new and bigger factory to accommodate our significant growth.”
Within the rail industry, LPA Lighting Systems has developed a strong reputation through its long-standing relationships with key customers such as Hitachi, with whom it designed and manufactured the lighting system for the Javelin fleet of trains travelling on HS1 route. LPA also played an important role in working with Hitachi on the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) through the development of a revolutionary LED lighting system. “The key difference between this system and other LED lighting systems used in rolling stock is that this was the first true indirect LED lighting system to be introduced,” elaborates Commercial Director, Damien Cunningham. “So rather than using overhead lights with diffusers in the front face the light is washed down the side walls of the train. It wasn’t until recently that there was sufficient light output available from LED devices to achieve this effect, but this has now become a fantastic LPA product and the first of its kind for rolling stock.”
Further to developing high reliability LED lights, LPA Lighting Systems is also at the forefront of bringing revolutionary LED control technology to the rail industry: “We now have control units that allow us to independently dim individual luminaries, which allows us to set up various zones of light at different light levels with various dimming scenarios. Automatic fault reporting is available and we can compensate for the deterioration of light output from the LEDs as they slowly decay over time through our drive technology,” Damien says. “Equally we can link that to ambient light sensing and feedback loops that allow us to maintain a constant light output in the passenger environment during different situations.”
Connecting to the future
Across the LPA Group innovation and long-lasting customer relationships are at the core of ensuring that the right solution is delivered to clients where needed. Operating with the mantra that ‘long life reliability does not cost the earth’, the group is able to develop bespoke engineering solutions to individual customer requirements that are built on proven in-house technologies and a vertically integrated production chain.