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Press Release: Rail

Findlay Irvine Ltd – A Profile for Rail

Mon, Feb, 8th, 2016

Too many in the UK Rail Industry, Findlay Irvine Ltd have been synonymous with high quality Switch Heating Controllers which the Scottish based company have been manufacturing for thirty years but now, thanks in part to their success supplying Loggers to Network Rail Intelligent Infrastructure Project (II), Findlay Irvine Ltd have become a major equipment supplier and development partner to the project team.  

Now as Intelligent Infrastructure increases the scope of the asset types being monitored across the whole network, Findlay Irvine too are increasing their product range to help and assist Network Rail in their quest to improve reliability as well efficiency by taking a strategic approach to asset management.  This has seen Findlay Irvine develop innovative solutions to difficult monitoring problems with Network Rail to provide cutting edge equipment covering signalling, power, track and civil applications.  A working relationship which looks set to continue long into the future.

 The reason why this relationship has been so successful in recent years is due to a number of reasons not least Findlay Irvine’s ability to be adaptive and deliver economical systems thanks to their multi-disciplinary approach to engineering design while also offering in-house production facilities with the ability to service and maintain equipment onsite.  Retaining the ability to provide hardware that can directly feed into an operators existing display software or provide a top end software management package is an attractive offering for any rail operator.  It is this capability that has so strongly lent itself to Network Rail by taking advantage of Findlay Irvine’s ability to provide a turnkey solution including hosting management systems until the Network Rail Intelligent Infrastructure system is ready to support the application when it will then be transferred over.

This approach to design and manufacturing allows new solutions to be trialled, tested and proven before being implemented, with the Intelligent Infrastructure helping to ensure solutions are rolled out correctly first time, a process which has been successfully developed over numerous years.

Findlay Irvine may not be as well known in the rail industry as some of the more prominent organisations but as specialist, bespoke innovators their reputation is growing quickly.  Particularly in the signalling area where Findlay Irvine has been involved with multiple applications for many years.

In the 1990s the company developed a cost effective solution for the Clamplock that only required an interface to the inbuilt pressure transducers and not the signalling system.  This was a successful innovation that led to many others due to the simplicity of the solution.

 The development of a general purpose Logger for signalling Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) applications led to the creation of a wireless interface for the HPSS point machine allowing machine generated data and logs to be reported back to the Network Rail management system.  By utilising the quickly advancing wireless communications this allowed the solution to be not only cost effective but extremely reliable and easy to maintain. 

Thanks to the success born from the creation of the general purpose Logger a number of other data collection opportunities arose.  These included the development of a unique AC point machine monitoring system for the non-DC market and the technology has helped to prove that it is possible to monitor level crossings using standard loggers and configurations.  Another such spin off project has been to help improve point operating equipment testing and commissioning, which although still a pilot project, has significant potential to improve installation reliability and become a valuable ongoing maintenance check. 

Outside of the signalling world, Findlay Irvine developed a logger more suitable to switch heating application by repackaging the existing functionality in a form that could be easily mounted on back panels, had more suitable Input/Outputs and at a substantially lower cost making it an extremely economical solution particularly in whole life cost terms.  Due to these innovations and a close working development partnership, Network Rail were able to build a strong business case for implementing Switch Heating Monitoring which has proven to be a very useful project in the long-term. 

In part thanks to the experience and key learnings from the Switch Heating Monitoring project as well as a longstanding experience with weather monitoring systems for Roads and Airports, Findlay Irvine were tasked to innovate solutions for other problems being faced by Network Rails surrounding critical rail applications.  This led to the inception of the Wireless Rail Temperature sensor which has the ability to record rail temperature and report it back to the Network Rail Intelligent Infrastructure system or to Findlay Irvine’s own online management system making data easily viewable on any internet enabled device.  The next innovative sensor to be developed along these lines is the Track Flood Sensor which has the capability to highlight water rising water which could pose a threat to services.  It is in this area that Findlay Irvine believe there are more innovations to be found in order to deliver cost effective solutions to ongoing issues and threats.

Now though, Findlay Irvine are branching out even further by offering civils applications by winning the recent National Contract for Earthworks Monitoring.  The system that is currently being installed across the UK has further extended the proven capability in wireless sensors while also offering the added benefit of including a new solar powered Logger with Day/Night Infrared Cameras.  

Mike Mustard, Business Development Manager for Findlay Irvine firmly believes that this latest innovation could be ground breaking for the industry saying “with the introduction of a low cost, solar powered Logger that has the ability to operate cameras where the Engineer can see the asset being monitored has the potential to open all sorts of doors for other applications.  The potential for automated, remote monitoring of assets and potential areas of failures could change the way that the industry operates and strengthen rail operators’ ability to offer a safe, reliable and economical service”.

Going forward Findlay Irvine hope to continue working closely with Network Rail, and other willing partners, to develop new solutions with integrated technology systems.  Findlay Irvine believe that by helping to prove new technology and increasing the capability of the Intelligent Infrastructure platform can only be a good thing for Network Rail and suppliers in this area  This innovative company are always looking for new projects and problems to develop solutions for and will continue for many years to come.