Spectrum Makes Tracks into the Rail Sector

Spectrum Technologies PLC, the UK-based manufacturer of specialist laser wire processing equipment for the aerospace and electronics industries, is pleased to announce that it has been selected by Bombardier Transportation to supply a high performance wire processing system for use in the manufacture of the rail cars for a major new North American project.

Spectrum will supply Bombardier with a Nova™ 860, high speed UV laser wire mark, measure and cut system. The equipment is due to be installed in their manufacturing plant in Huehuetoca, Mexico before the end of April 2014.

The Nova system will be used in the initial stages of production of the electrical wiring and interconnect systems (EWIS) for installation in new rail cars for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) New Train Car Project in San Francisco, California. At over 40 years old BART’s current fleet of trains is the oldest in the USA and due for replacement.

BART awarded the New Train Car Project to Bombardier in 2012. Bombardier will deliver 775 new cars, requiring around 4000 miles of wire to be processed for the electrical systems. The first rail cars are due to enter service in 2017.

The traditional method of wire identification in the rail industry is to use pre-marked “heat shrink” plastic sleeves, which are placed over the wire ends. However, this adds significant weight and cost to the harnesses.

BART is committed to sustainability and resultantly the new cars are required to be as light as possible to maximise energy efficiency, and consequently direct wire marking technology is specified.

Nova wire marking systems use the UV laser wire marking technology developed by Spectrum Technologies for the aerospace industry to mark the required ID codes directly onto the surface of the wire insulation. The UV laser reacts with the insulation material to produce a permanent, high quality, non-damaging mark.

Bombardier’s decision to utilise Spectrum’s laser marking on the BART project means the wires can be identified along their whole length with high quality permanent identity codes that are resistant to wear and which greatly facilitates both the manufacture and the maintenance of the cars.

Spectrum Technologies CEO, Dr Peter Dickinson, commented, “This is a pivotal contract for the company. Since start-up we have taken UV laser wire marking technology and developed it in to the international aerospace industry standard for wire identification. We are now the market leader for the supply of specialist wire processing equipment to aerospace manufacturers all around the world, exporting more than 95% of sales annually.

“It has been clear to us for some time that the rail sector could also benefit significantly from the transfer of our innovative technology from the aerospace sector. Bombardier is a global leader in rail technology; this contract is a major breakthrough and opens up a whole new arena for us. It could similarly lead to this technology becoming the industry standard across the international rail sector, and significantly expands our potential markets.”