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Transport & Logistics

Expert speakers ‘turnout’ for RISSB workshop in May

13 Apr 2015, by Informa Insights

It is necessary to maintain a rail asset in great condition to obtain the longest life cycle possible. Yet without a sound understanding of the Turnout and the issues or areas of concern, Turnouts often do not receive early attention and can degrade quickly and lead to significant problems like derailment.

Focusing on the up-skilling of industry workers, the RISSB National Rail Turnouts Workshop will look to exchange and transfer knowledge from a range of experts.

In the lead up to the event – 27-28 May in Sydney – we were lucky enough to delve into the mindsets of four speakers:

  • Laurie Wilson – Manager, Infrastructure & Engineering with RISSB
  • Glenn Lorenz –  Engineering Manager, Vossloh Cogifer
  • Jefferson Fern –  Business Development Manager, Vossloh
  • Franz Sodia –  CEO, VAE
Glenn Lorenz
Glenn Lorenz, Vossloh

Glenn Lorenz is Engineering Manager of Vossloh Cogifer Australia. He will be speaking at the RISSB National Rail Turnouts Workshop about pioneering turnout design.

Glenn, can you tell us a little about your professional background?
I first started as an Estimator in a Turnouts manufacturing firm Thompsons Kelly and Lewis in 1982, this role was very much commercially orientated:

This then led to a senior position in the Engineering department and subsequently became the Engineering Manager at TKL in 2002, I then took on my current position as Engineering Manager at Vossloh Cogifer Australia in 2007

What are your major concerns in your current role?
As my company is a designer and manufacturer, one of my biggest concerns is product being designed and produced outside of Australia.

Other concerns to our business is the current low price of iron ore and lack of major rail infrastructure projects.

Why do you see the Turnouts forum as an important industry event and why should people attend?

This event is the only forum which is specifically dedicated to Turnouts. To the best of my knowledge there is no other event that covers design, manufacture, installation, maintenance, operation etc.

Attendees should include installers, operators and maintainers who will potentially need an understanding of turnouts.

Who are you looking forward to hearing from at the forum?
It’s always interesting to hear the operator and maintainer viewpoints on turnouts, as well as listening to the other turnout designers and suppliers’ perspectives.

Laurie Wilson, RISSB
Laurie Wilson, RISSB

Laurie Wilson – Manager, Infrastructure & Engineering with RISSB.

Laurie, can you tell us about the path to your current role?
I started many years ago in the railway sector as a short term job until I could find something better. I found the industry to be an exciting challenge every day and the more I learned about my role and the industry the more I wanted to learn. Around 40 years later and many varied roles, I am still learning about aspects of the industry and my role within it. The industry is unique in that it allows staff to work and progress through its various departments and grow as an individual. I progressed from a physically demanding role in the fields of Construction and Maintenance to a more office type role in education and development, progressing to training design through to Safety then safety investigations, management, Innovations management and now with RISSB as the Manager Infrastructure and Engineering.

Please tell us a little about what your major concerns are in your current role?
The development of standards has been undertaken for about six years now and Infrastructure has a good suite of standards on which industry can draw. My main concern is the education of industry in the content of the standards and the adoption and implementation by rail organisations.

What will you be speaking about?
I will be discussing the Standards development process and an overview of the content within the Turnouts and special track works standard.

Why do you see the Turnouts forum as an important industry event and why should people attend?
I was one of a few who used to teach turnout principles and construction and still believe it is an area that requires a good understanding. Modern turnouts are well designed and manufactured. Installing them in the field is a significant task. Manufacturers now construct and deliver to sites and some are installing them as well. This means it is getting harder for workers to gain an understanding of the importance of various components and the need for inspection and maintenance of safety critical areas. A need to maintain the asset in as good a condition as possible to obtain the longest life possible. Without a sound understanding of the turnout and the issues or areas of concern, turnouts do not receive early attention and can degrade quickly and lead to significant problems like derailment.

Who are you looking forward to hearing from at the forum?
I always look forward to the younger engineers stepping up and delivering presentations about what they have learned about turnouts. It is of course good to see the older engineers still passionate about rail in general and turnouts specifically.

Jefferson Fern
Jefferson Fern, Vossloh

Jefferson Fern – Business Development Manager at Vossloh Fastening Systems.

Jefferson, how did you arrive at your current role?
In my career I transitioned from technical to client facing roles.  I really enjoy working on new projects and developing solutions for clients.  Now in my current role with Vossloh I am drawing on my technical and client facing experience.

What are your current sector challenges?

My concern is how to best communicate options to the client from Vossloh’s broad experience base in Europe and around the globe.  Then work with clients to develop better solutions for the current project.

What will you be speaking about at the RISSB National Rail Turnouts Workshop?
I will be speaking about the fundamentals of fastening systems and how they apply to turnouts.  Then I will cover why non-ballasted track is becoming increasingly popular and will share a range of applications relating to turnouts, followed by a discussion on construction and maintenance considerations.

Why do you see this forum as an important industry event and why should people attend?
Turnouts are the most complex part of the track system so if you can understand or solve a problem relating to turnouts you will more than likely have a good appreciation for the whole track!

Who are you looking forward to hearing from at the forum?
The chairman announcing lunch!   But seriously… they will all be good.  I am especially looking forward to John McLeod as he is new in the role in Sydney and comes from long experience in railways.  I always like hearing about installation and construction methods and issues.

Franz Sodia – CEO, VAE

Franz, how did you come to be in your present role?
I started on the shop floor! Originally I was a gunsmith by trade and an officer in the Austrian Army. I followed this up with a Master in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. I have now been working in the railway industry for voestalpine VAE since almost 20 years. For the last five years, I have been CEO of voestalpine Railway Systems in Australia.

What are your current professional challenges?

  • Adapting proven technical solutions from other countries for special Australian requirements
  • Introducing the concept of high initial quality as a key driver for low Life Cycle Costs
  • Introducing new generation of turnouts for axle loads greater than 40 tonnes
  • Introducing a new generation of hydraulic switch machines which allow tamping and do not need in-bearers
  • Introducing electronic condition monitoring systems for turnouts to enable condition based monitoring

At the conference I will be speaking about Turnouts for low life cycle costs, influenced by the factors above.

Why do you see the Turnouts forum as an important industry event and why should people attend?
This is THE event in Australia regarding turnout technology. Having a clear focus on this topic but still including and considering influences of other relevant sub-systems of the overall railway system.

Who are you looking forward to hearing from at the forum?
I’m looking forward to hearing from railway infrastructure authorities regarding their specific requirements and challenges, which require the technical expertise and contribution of the industry.

Don’t miss hearing from these great speakers and others at the RISSB National Rail Turnouts Workshop, 27 – 28 May in Sydney. View the full agenda here and book now.

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