Wexford firms on Bord Na Móna project
With only fifteen years remaining of harvesting turf from Ireland's bogs, two Wexford companies have worked together to provide a cost effective means for Bord na Móna to overhaul its locomotives for hauling turf.
In 2015, Bord na Móna decided that its fleet of locomotives needed to be completely overhauled and fitted with upgraded engines and technology. These engines pull 100 tonnes each of machined turf from the bogs of Offaly and Westmeath to the local generating stations and they are running for three shifts every day. With a limit of 15 years being put on the harvesting of turf, the cost of replacing the locomotives, which were manufactured over 50 years ago, could not be justified.
The decision was taken to undertake a complete refit and all the electrical cabling and the control modules and their programming would have to be outsourced. Wexford Cable Industries Ltd (WCI), based in Sinnottstown Business Park, took the lead in creating a local consortium to achieve success in tender and partnered with Kilderry Instruments Ltd on the project. After several meetings and many months of submitting and modifying designs the Wexford consortium were successful and were awarded the contract.
WCI was founded by William Cowman having been a previous employee of Wexford Electronix. The company employs some 23 people and manufactures cable harnesses and related control units for customers around Ireland. Mr Cowman says that there are great plans for expansion in the next 24 months as they look to make the jump into the export market.
Based in the Ardcavan Business Park, Kilderry Instruments was established in 1995 and designs builds and supports innovative, durable and market leading automation and telemetry solutions to their customers worldwide. The company employs six people in the development of solutions for industry sectors such as MedTech, Energy and mobile automation.
Work on the Bord Na Móna project got under way with the delivery of the first locomotive to Sinnottstown Lane in January of 2016 and they were completely rebuilt using the existing fleet. The solution provided by the consortium linked the engine and transmission together through an engine management system pulling in other process information from sensors around the locomotive. This information was then used to control the operation of the loco through a new 7-inch driver display, multifunction joystick and Keypad. It also had to be available remotely via the internet, so that in the event of a breakdown, the maintenance crew could log onto an internet portal and look through the live data from the locomotive to help diagnose the issue before leaving base.
Over 50 locomotives have been upgraded, with the Wexford consortium supplying all the electrical and programming technology. 'This project shows how local companies can work together and combine their expertise and knowledge to compete with larger multinational organisations to successfully bid for contracts that would normally be outside individual company reach,' Mr Cowman said.