SA company keeps abreast of pantograph technology

26th February 2016 By: Bruce Montiea - Creamer Media Reporter

South Africa-based engineering company Pamodzi Unique Engineering has signed a technical agreement with international pantograph manufacturers to remain up to date with the latest pantograph technology.

The company has been supplying State-owned heavy-haul freight rail company Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) with its BES pantographs since the early 2000s, and continuously holds quarterly review meetings with TFR to discuss possible improvements.

A pantograph is mounted on the roof of an electric train to collect power through contact with an overhead catenary wire. Typically, a single wire is used, with the return current running through the track.

Given the importance of the pantograph in ensuring full functionality of a train, Pamodzi Unique Engineering developed an automatic drop-down (ADD) device – installed on its BES pantograph – that enables the pantograph to drop down instantly on impact, subsequently prolonging runtime.

“Whereby impact is caused, for example, by objects or loose connections on the overhead, the pantograph drops down to reduce or prevent damage to the overhead line infrastructure, locomotive roof equipment and the pantograph itself,” says Pamodzi Unique Engineering sales controller Holly Smith.

She mentions that, at the quarterly design review meetings with TFR, possible improvements to the BES pantographs are discussed, with the pantographs then subjected to strict test specifications by TFR.

“Our BES pantographs have been passing these tests after every review meeting,” Smith points out, adding that this approval enables Pamodzi Unique Engineering to gain more access to the local market and also gain exposure to potential customers internationally.

Meanwhile, Smith states that the BES pantograph is aerodynamic, which allows for higher traction efficiency and ensures less maintenance.
Moreover, the BES pantographs are designed to accommodate alternating current or direct current, with an up-and-down movement controlled by a pneumatic cylinder and springs.

The pantographs are tested and set to customer specifications, with spares and technical field support available to ensure product efficiency. The company can also refurbish damaged pantographs for clients.

With the expertise that Pamodzi Unique Engineering receives from its international pantograph manufacturers, it is also hoping to infiltrate a broader spectrum of the South African market that is not limited to rail transportation.

The company manufactures a range of pantographs with varying base frames and collection head configurations.

“The locomotive pantograph designs that we make accommodate a three- or four-point mounting, depending on the specific locomotive type and roof layout,” concludes Smith.