Australia's ACM develops specialist access for rail

By Maria Hadlow15 August 2012

Australian Crane & Machinery Pty (ACM) has developed a truck and rail mounted machine for inspection and maintenance of cables and general maintenance along the railway line.

A spacious 2.5m x 2.0m basket with a 450kg means the ACM 105SP allows a crew to work at a maximum working height of 10.5m above track level in fully insulated safety. The wire boom support has an insulated head and a maximum height of 7.5m and its boom can be tilted up to 30 degrees either side of vertical.

Before the company designed its ACM 105SP vehicle for State Rail, Australia Crane & Machinery had identified other niches in the market for truck-mounted access equipment and developed machines sold under the ACM brand.

ACM drew on its experience from being the distributor of a range of crane and access equipment and the knowledge it had accrued in the operation and support of equipment working in demanding and often remote environments using sophisticated load management and other systems.

The ACM 105SP is said to be the most sophisticated machine developed to date. It combines the functions of an aerial work platform, a wire boom support and a pantograph recording device in a single four-wheel-drive vehicle with Hi Rail capabilities.

The ACM 105SP can be operated in several modes: walking with Hi Rail set, stationary with Hi-Rail set and outriggers at minimum or maximum extension, and stationary on rubber with outriggers fully deployed. The load management system detects the mode and applies a load chart to match that mode.

Speed limits are set for rail work according to the mode (30km/h for rail travel, reducing to 10km/h when in work mode). The rail travel model will not operate until the basket is stowed, and this is a simple press button operation. There is also a boom anti-collision system.

The structure of the ACM company has changed significantly in the process of developing the ACM 105SP for the State Rail contract. Its design department now has a staff of five, and there are in house staff and facilities to handle the electronics and programming required for the control systems, as well to manage the traditional mechanical and hydraulics areas.

Expertise in composites has been built-up as extensive use is made of these for insulating vehicles working with or near power.

CAN bus communication systems are used for ease of control and diagnostics, and these link with the engine management and transmission systems for full control. ACM can monitor equipment remotely, providing speedy factory support regardless of the machine's location.

A 50m test track has been set up at the Melbourne factory, and this includes a banked section as the Rail Corp machine has a hydraulic levelling feature for use on superelevated track.

ACM recognises that different track operators can have different requirements, and the in house expertise allows concepts to be developed quickly. Quality control/product support manager Ben Potter said that it is possible to produce a concept drawing in as little as a month.

A second machine, the ACM 205SP, has been developed for Yarra Trams. While to the State Rail Machine, it is based on a larger truck from a different manufacturer, has a higher capacity basket with extensions, has greater vertical and horizontal reach, and is designed to operate on gradients with the load management system adjusting for this to ensure safe operation.

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