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Case Study Re-Engineering

  • Client - Network Rail & Rail Contractors
  • Product - Barrier Power Pack

“The arm of a level crossing barrier can be over nine metres long, meaning that the centre of gravity is 4.5 metres from the mechanism that raises it. Long term, this can give rise to reliability issues. The problem having got worse over the last few years, it was time for a radical solution. A detailed analysis allowed specialists at Howells Railway Products to come up with a modified design.” – RAIL EXECUTIVE (2015)



As a result of this inherent industry problem, we developed a fully interchangeable re-engineered and manufactured power pack providing the infrastructure with a more robust, reliable solution. Along with information on service failures and the results of internal testing within the factory, 12 separate and specific areas for improvements to the existing design were developed and proven to ensure a trouble-free service life. All modifications were contained within the power pack itself, allowing full retrofit into existing installations.



To validate these improvements, a complete barrier assembly utilising a 9.1 metre boom and skirt was installed at our factory. The revised power pack was subjected to continuous testing in which it was raised and lowered repeatedly every three minutes. Performance was monitored by a data-logger and daily condition monitoring, allowing comparisons between pre and post-modifications to be carried out with a typical test running to 50,000 cycles over a three month period for evaluation purposes.


The Benefits

The newly designed and manufactured component parts significantly increase performance and reliability of the unit, with a new motor providing a 40% power increase and a 30% reduction in operating current. Alongside the change in component parts to enhance performance and increase life, there were further design improvements to facilitate operation, including a new pressure relief valve fitted externally to allow adjustments and the addition of an oil dip stick!

Nominated for 2015 – Rail Executive Awards


21st Century

Increasingly we are becoming involved with life extension and evolution on legacy products. This may be where either OEM support is unavailable, or where there is a need to provide improved engineering solutions for products with historical reliability or application issues. This process allows us to take advantage of 21st Century technologies, whilst maintaining the integral functionality of the product and enhancing reliability. Most products can also be offered as service-exchange which reduces cost and is better for our environment