WVCO looks back on 2019 – the year of innovation.

WVCO Railroad Products

2019 was a year of innovation. The wood products industry thrived as game-changing technology was introduced into the marketplace while cross-laminated timber, known for its economic advantages, construction quality, durability, sustainability, and aesthetics, was embraced by more architects and construction companies around the world.

There were great advances made in automation that will make manufacturing jobs safer and more efficient. WVCO’s Idaho Milling and Grain division kept their eyes on exciting new research that may help farmers adapt to climate pressures as researchers developed technology to create 3D-printed concrete that could revolutionize the construction industry and decrease its carbon footprint.

WVCO continued to develop robotic solutions for automated engineering, finishing, material handling, welding and more. Our team of engineers also developed unique and customized solutions that will enable companies to overcome challenges in the transportation industry and infrastructure.

Here’s a look back at some of our highlights from 2019.

In May, our WVCO Wood Products team traveled to Hannover, Germany to showcase WVCO’s wood product solutions and equipment at LIGNA 2019, the world’s leading trade show for tools and machinery for the wood processing industry. It was an exciting opportunity for us to meet with key wood and forestry industry leaders from around the globe. LIGNA 2019 had three focus themes: “Integrated Woodworking – Customized Solutions”, “Smart Surface Technology” and “Access to Resources and Technology”.

Over the summer, the WVCO team introduced the FastPatch HPRE, High-Performance Rail Encapsulator to address some of the challenges embedded rail systems on city streets present such as excessive vibration, noise, rail deflection, and maintenance difficulties. This new system is designed from WVCO’s innovative polymer and dispensing equipment and offers fast installation and a long-lasting solution for embedded rail systems with key performance properties.

We also had the pleasure of opening our newly remodeled R & D Center for our Research & Development team in Eugene. The beautiful new facility is equipped with the latest and most sophisticated analytical technologies on the market and designed with our entire R & D team in mind.

In August, Cleco presented Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) with a $34,182.40 check at our Pineville, Louisana facility for upgrading its interior and exterior lights to LED lighting through Cleco’s Power Wise™ energy efficiency program. With the new LED lighting, WVCO is projected to save 341,824 kWh annually, which is estimated to be enough electricity to power 28 homes for one year!

Also in August, our Pre-Tec division was prominently featured in this piece published in Eugene’s Register Guard.

The WVCO Railroad Division exhibited products like SpikeFast®, the industry’s most reliable product for plugging spike holes, and other custom solutions related to rail and highway safety at the 2019 National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Conference. The conference brought leaders in the rail and highway industries together to present contemporary topics and new technology to an international audience.

In September,the WVCO team traveled to Tampa, Florida to meet with professionals in the marine industry and present how our innovative FastPatch technology can cut time and expenses at IBEX 2019, North America’s leading technical boat-building showcase.

Our team also exhibited our railroad products and FastPatch products at Railway Interchange 2019, the largest U.S.-based technical conference and trade show for the railroad industry! took place in September in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was a great success. An estimated 7,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world gathered at this combined railway industry event, sponsored by AREMA (American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) and CMA (Coordinated Mechanical Associations) and the exhibits of RSI (Railway Supply Institute), REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association) and RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.)

In November, WVCO was named “APA Supplier of the Year” at the APA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the EWTA Info Fair in Tucson, Arizona. This marks the fifth year in a row we have received this esteemed award, and the tenth out of the last 14 years! EWTA’s Supplier of the Year Awards are based on the quality and delivery of EWTA member products, equipment and/or services supplied to APA members, as determined by a vote of APA mill managers.

2019 also brought major changes to the world of robotics. WVCO’s PRE-TEC division enhanced robotic weld cell automation by introducing a unique line-up of FASWeld Standard Robotic Weld Cells, built for companies using automation for the first time, as well as customers looking to expand their robotic automation capabilities. Each system is developed using the highest quality industrial components.

What new developments do you predict 2020 will bring? Stay tuned and find out! WVCO wishes all of our employees, customers, partners and friends a very happy new year!

WVCO Partner Spotlight: Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA)

Photo Source: REMSA

Willamette Valley Company is proud to partner with many outstanding organizations that have helped to lead the way in our industries. These unique partnerships have enabled us to better serve our customers by giving us access to the latest technologies, methodologies, and resources.

This month, we are spotlighting our partnership with REMSA (Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association), a non-profit trade group representing over 330 railway engineers, contractors, and consultants and maintenance-of-way suppliers across the country.

One of the things we value the most about our partnership with REMSA is their efforts to advance initiatives in support of the rail industry (a $5 billion industry supporting over 35,000 jobs nationwide) and the business development opportunities the organization extends to its members on a national and international scale. Since 1965, the organization has strived to provide its members with the very best equipment, machines, and services in the railroad industry.

REMSA’s Mission is to facilitate global business development opportunities to companies and individuals who manufacture or sell maintenance-of-way equipment, products, and services or are engineers, contractors, and consultants working in construction and/or maintenance of railroad transportation facilities.

Watch the video below to learn more about REMSA’s key membership value initiatives and its role in supporting the maintenance of way industry.

REMSA is also a sponsor of Railway Interchange, the largest combined railway exhibition and technical conference in North America. WVCO has had the honor of participating in this world-class rail industry event a number of times by showcasing our WVCO Railroad and POLYQuik products. In addition, the organization supports the rail industry through actions such as:

*Maintaining long standing alliances with the Federal Railroad Administration, Association of American Railroads, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), the Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc., the Railway Supply Institute, the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and the U.S. Congress, among others.

*Publishing a quarterly newsletter that includes interviews with industry leaders, articles on foreign opportunities, legislation and lobbying efforts, company profiles, as well as exhibition and meeting news.

*Providing scholarships to REMSA member company employees and their families.
Supporting networking with an interactive job board, Career Network, that offers easy-to-use and highly targeted resources for online employment connections.

*Association representatives are politically active on behalf of its members and the railroad industry by meeting with lawmakers in Washington, DC, and at the state level.

To learn more about REMSA and the other contributions the organization has given to our industry, please visit www.remsa.org. 

What is in store for Rail in 2018?

Rail

Photo Source: American-Rails

“We feel very good about the future and look forward to next year. We are committed to provide superior service to our customers, and with the volume growth momentum still ahead of us, we see good growth opportunity. A major focus as we move into 2018 is putting more of our resources in place: the people, the equipment and the capital investments.” — Canadian National President and CEO Luc Jobin

What’s the state of the rail industry in 2018? Today’s modern railroads face diverse and unique challenges in daily maintenance projects. There is a lot to be optimistic about in the coming year for rail, though at the moment it is a cautious optimism. A strong U.S. economy and increased consumer confidence could potentially bring new investments and policies that would positively affect all levels of infrastructure throughout the country.

Overall, 2017 was a good year for the rail industry, with the ASCE’s report card giving it the only strong grade of its infrastructure report card. NASDAQ also reported strong growth for railroads in the third quarter due in part to improved focus on deliverables like coal.

Of course, there are challenges to overcome that could impact the industry. Some lawmakers have called for budget cuts, stating that trains are not profitable. National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) President and CEO Jim Mathews responded by saying “those in Congress who believe that passenger rail is not profitable are mistaken. What they don’t see is the big picture. A robust national–and international–intermodal transportation system is crucial to economic growth, especially in those rural and less wealthy areas where travel options are already limited.”

Uncertainty with the North American Free Trade Agreement could also be a factor that greatly impacts the rail industry. Railroads such as the Kansas City Southern that deal heavily with Mexico could potentially feel the repercussions of the deal falling through.

Union Pacific’s Lance Fritz highlights Mexico is a strong business opportunity. “Despite uncertainty around NAFTA, we consider our Mexico business an opportunity that could benefit some of our submarkets. Union Pacific moves 70 percent of U.S. freight-rail shipments to and from Mexico through gateways at Brownsville, Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas; Nogales, Arizona; and Calexico, California. We support trade that helps the U.S. and Mexico economies grow.”

As new infrastructure plans and investments are revealed, the railroad industry’s future will become clearer. We hope it’s a bright one.

About WVCO’s Railroad Division
The Willamette Valley Company’s Railroad Division is the industry leader in providing innovative new products and application systems for today’s railroads. The Railroad Division’s proprietary product, SpikeFast®, has quickly become the most sought-after and reliable product for plugging spike holes.The Railroad Division also offers other railroad tie products for wood and concrete ties, and unique application systems to accurately and consistently apply proven products.

Sources:

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/article/63203/expanding-passenger-rail-u-s-economy/

https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/news/62949/report-amtrak-cuts-cost-billions/

http://www.nasdaq.com/article/railroad-industry-outlook-december-2018-cm886615

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/rail_industry_trends/article/Outlook-2018-For-Class-I-railroads-moderate-growth-is-the-best-guess–53413

Positive Train Control Means Increased Rail Safety Measures

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Last spring, the  U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would grant $197 million in funding for rail systems to implement the new rail safety measures called Positive Train Control.

Positive Train Control, or PTC, has been described as something of an “air traffic control” center for trains. PTC makes use of GPS satellites, radio towers, and ground sensors in order to better read a train’s speed and location. One such added benefit of this technology is that it can detect if a train is going too fast and allow on board computers to slow it down or stop it all together.

PTC

Photo Source – The Press Enterprise

“The number of passengers depending on rail has increased dramatically, which means PTC is needed now more than ever,” said Patrick Warren, FRA Executive Director. “This funding will get us closer to PTC implementation on some of the most significant railroads in the country that transport several million passengers to and from work every day.”

PTC systems are designed to prevent certain train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and trains routed to the wrong tracks because a switch was left in the wrong position. The grants under this program will be used to install PTC technology, including back office systems and wayside, communications, and onboard hardware equipment associated with railroads’ PTC systems.

“Millions of people rely on our nation’s commuter railroads and Positive Train Control will help ensure safe and reliable service,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Today’s announcement means that commuter railroads can move forward with the implementation of an important rail safety feature.”

Of course, a project of this scale and scope has been met with some hesitation. Some fear such a system could higher transportation costs in addition to redundancies that could potentially result in layoffs. Though the debate continues whether implementation is fiscally wise or will managed, few can deny that such a tech will not be a strong tool in helping prevent accidents caused due to human error.

To view a list of when railroads predict that they will achieve full PTC system implementation, visit Railroads’ Planned Timelines for Full Implementation of PTC TechnologyExternal Link.

Sources:

New Technology Coming To Help Make MARC Trains Safer

Rail systems get millions to improve safety

Regulators and railways spar over Positive Train Control, a controversial safety system that won’t arrive in time

Meet John Zuspan, “the Track Guy”

 

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo Source University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We must build and maintain the track structure the right way or Railroad Safety, Quality, and Integrity will be compromised and this great industry will (literally and figuratively) derail.” – Excerpt from Track Guy Consultant’s Mission Statement.

Event-goers of NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference earlier this year are no doubt familiar with John Zuspan; not only did he present a seminar on “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track” (a talk on the means and methods for DF, LVT, and embedded track construction), he was honored and inducted into the NRC Hall of Fame.

Throughout his 40+ year career, John Zuspan has worked in the various complex roles that make up our railroad industry. This journey first began with a job as a track laborer for Atlas Railroad Construction, where Zuspan learned first hand the tangible, physical requirements of railway assembly.  This knowledge would serve him well in his next role, Superintendent for Slattery/Skanska. Zuspan’s work ethic and drive resulted in his elevation to Director of the Track Division. Vice President for Balfour Beatty Rail was the next post Zuspan assumed, estimating and managing budgets for several large scale railway projects and being responsible for hundreds of track workers across three boroughs.

It’s no exaggeration to say that John Zuspan has an inside knowledge of all complex facets that make the railway industry run. This passion and perspective, gleamed through a decades of work, would lead to his next endeavor: Track Guy Consultants.

Track Guy Consultants granted John Zuspan the opportunity to give back to the railway industry through workshops, seminars, track inspections, safety training, and other services for railroad firms and employees. Stanley Beaver, Safety and Environment Director at Balfour Beatty Rail, sums up the impact of Zuspan’s work:

“Without John’s help, many individuals and small businesses may not have succeeded. Very often his help comes without charge in the form of advice and encouragement. John is never too busy to take time to help individuals working through complex issues.”

For his decades of service towards improving the quality of railways and railway employees, as well as his on-going passion to offer the tools and information new generations of railway workers can use, we name John Zuspan our Featured Innovator of the Month. We look forward to hearing more from him in the future!

Note: John Zuspan does not work for nor is he affiliated with  Willamette Valley Company. 

Sources:

Track Guy Consultants

RT&S

Congressman Peter DeFazio Visits WVCO to Accept Railroad Achievement Award

Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA).

Photos courtesy of Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA).

It was a very exciting week at our Eugene, OR manufacturing facility! Earlier this week, we had the pleasure of welcoming some very special guests including distinguished members of Association of American Railroads (AAR), The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA),GoRail and representatives from Oregon rail manufacturers to honor Congressman Peter DeFazio

“Congressman Peter DeFazio has long been a strong advocate of the rail industry, the State of Oregon and especially, Lane County,” added John Murray, Vice President of WVCO. “Willamette Valley Company is honored to host this award presentation.”

Congressman DeFazio, a ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, was recognized at this event for his support and leadership on issues affecting both freight and passenger railroads. The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA), which represents WVCO, as well as eight other Oregon rail manufacturers, coordinated the event.

WVCO ‎Vice President John Murray introducing distinguished guests at an event honoring Congressman DeFazio.

WVCO ‎Vice President John Murray introducing distinguished guests at an event honoring Congressman DeFazio.

Sean Winkler, REMSA; Allen Goff, REMSA Director; Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR); WVCO's John Murray, REMSA Director

Sean Winkler, REMSA; Allen Goff, REMSA Director; Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR); WVCO’s John Murray, REMSA Director

Nate Kaplan, GoRail, Presents Rep. DeFazio with Railroad Achievement Award

Nate Kaplan, GoRail, Presents Rep. DeFazio with Railroad Achievement Award

Click here to read the full recap.

If you can think it you can print it! How 3D printing is revolutionizing the rail industry.

UnionPacific3D

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

“We can make design tweaks and have a new version ready within hours, plus the prototype never leaves UP. Additionally, it ensures a complete design before we move into expensive tooling or long lead times for molded parts.” – Royce Connerley, Union Pacific Senior System Engineer

It’s no exaggeration to say the 3D printing is a technology with boundless potential. With medical industries, housing, manufacturing, and hobbyists using the tech for printing in ways never before possible, it is no surprise that the railway industry too is turning to 3D printing for solutions.

For a bit of a background, 3D printing is the use of machinery to print components/materials. These materials can be plastic, metal through powder printing, and much more.

Union Pacific, for example, is using 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology. Machine vision loosely refers to the using of imagery for automatic inspection or analysis. Furthermore, Union Pacific is 3D printing remote controlled devices to track rail equipment.

In Europe, Deutsche Bahn has begun to use 3D printing in their actual train assembly. As Uwe Fresenborg, CEO of DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung states: “For the maintenance of our vehicles we need immediately available spare parts. Our trains are expected to roll, 3D printing helps us in doing so. Printing is faster, more flexible and cheaper than conventional manufacturing processes, and the vehicles are available again in a very short time and are used for our customers.”

3D-Druck_02

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

Beyond creating parts for trains, Deutsche Bahn has employed 3D printing to increase the overall experience of customers, such as by 3D printing metal pieces with braille for disabled customers and individualized handicap signs for handrails. As the program develops we can anticipate seeing more 3D printing components throughout Europe and beyond.

It’s safe to say that 3D printing will revolutionize not only rail but all manner of transport industries with its benefits to customer quality of life, safety testing, part replacement, and machine vision. As more industries adopt the technology we can expect to see even greater breakthroughs still.

Sources:

RailJournal: DB steps up 3D printing of train components

3D Printing Industry: Union Pacific 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology

3D Printing Industry: Deutsche Bahn extends use of 3D printing to “revolutionize maintenance”

Railroad Day on Capitol Hill

Capitol_at_Dusk_2

In a few short weeks, advocates and representatives of the Railroad Industry will make their annual journey to Washington DC to make their messages heard by lawmakers. This important annual event, Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, is taking place on March 2nd, 2017, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown, 999 9th St, NW, Washington, DC.

With the ever-shifting political climate, it’s more important than ever to be heard.  As anyone who has taken part in the event before knows, it’s the most effective way for the railroad industry’s message to be reached by Congress and can only succeed if everyone turns out in order to present a unified industry.

New Dome Railroad Day Logo - 2017

The event takes place over the course of one day with appointments, meetings, and events all organized in order to communicate the important role that the railroad industry plays in America’s economy, improving our country’s role in global marketplace, and our ongoing success in helping the environment.

Attendees of Railroad Day will have the opportunity to speak directly with decision makers and help promote real change. “Railroad Day is our single most impactful day of the year with Congressional leaders,” said Linda Darr, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, of 2016’s Railroad Day. “We had the opportunity to address issues of importance to our industry and the shipper customers we serve.”

Attendance is open to all Class I, II, and III railroad personnel, shippers, state and local government representatives, as well as members from the supplier community with an interest in furthering the political goals of the railroad industry. To learn more, please visit www.aslrra.org.

Photo Credit: By Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, www.commons.wikimedia.org

NRC-REMSA 2017 Wrap Up

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

Last month, a team from Willamette Valley Company’s Railroad Division had the privilege of traveling to Boca Raton, Florida to meet with industry representatives and officials at the NRC-REMSA 2017 Conference and Exhibition. This year’s event proved once again to be an unparalleled opportunity for WVCO and other railway businesses to connect directly with professionals representing all segments of the industry. We appreciated the opportunity to listen to your questions and concerns about the growing number of challenges this industry faces and introduce you to our wood-tie remediation and other repair products.

NRC-REMSA

The annual NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition encompassed more than 1,000 attendees, 150 exhibitors and over 25,000 square-feet of meeting space. It was a pleasure to join the many other members of the railroad industry; including service firms, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to answer questions about our railroad products and POLYQuik Roadway Repair materials, Joint Fillers and Light-Rail Grout. Other participants of the conference/exhibition included: Union Pacific, SANDAG (San Diego), Genesee and Wyoming, Caltrans, CSX, California Rail, LA Metro, Alaska Railroad, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National, New York MTA, Watco, OmniTRAX and many others.

Speakers

Event-goers had the chance to take in seminars from key individuals in the railway and transportation industry. Rob Castiglione, the Staff Director of Human Performance Program for the Office of Railroad Safety FRA presented “Overview of FRA Part 243 Minimum Training Standards Final Rule,” where he expanded on training requirements for all railroad employees and contractors who perform safety related work, the history of the rule, and the role of associations like NRC.

John Zuspan of Track Guy Consultants presented “Means and Methods for Direct Fixation, Low Vibration Track & Embedded Track,” a seminar on the means and methods for embedded track construction.

Jerry Power’s seminar on “Overview of FRA Part 219 Drug & Alcohol Regulation for Maintenance-of-Way Workers Final Rule”  covered  the scope of FRA’s alcohol and drug regulations to cover employees who work in railroad maintenance.

Lastly, Lesa Forbes, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service, spoke on new opportunities abroad and how US Commercial Services can help your firm expand your international business.

HallOfFame

Photo Source RT&S

The event also saw the induction of new members into the NRC Hall of Fame, Ron Brown, John Zuspan, and Rick Ebersold. The three were honored for their work in NRC, REMSA, and the railway industry as a whole.

Below are some photos of NRC-REMSA 2017, courtesy of REMSA’s Twitter page.

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA 2017

NRC-REMSA2017

Photo Source: REMSA Twitter

WVCO was proud to take a part in NRC-REMSA 2017 and look forward to taking part once again next year!

Sources:

Railway News

NCRMA

RT & S

Railway Supply Community to Law Makers: Don’t Impose Regulations

Rail Supply IndustryThe Willamette Valley Company has joined a growing group of industry leaders within the railway supply community and prominent rail industry trade associations to speak out against the Surface Transportation Board‘s proposal on reregulatory efforts, including so called “reciprocal switching” and commodity reregulation.

Congressional leaders John Thune, Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Bill Nelson, Ranking Member; and Bill Shuster, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member, have received a letter signed by dozens of suppliers and contractors pointing out the STB’s “recent trend of imposing regulations first, and discovering the consequences later.”

“As the collective voice of businesses that serve railroads and provide the equipment and technologies to enhance the efficiency and safety of their operations, we know…over-involvement of the federal government in the day-to-day business decisions of railroads once pushed this sector and the larger railroad ecosystem of customers and suppliers to the brink of collapse,” the letter states. “Without the wisdom to partially deregulate the industry in 1980, America would have lost a privately owned and maintained economic engine that provides quality jobs to support families and communities, affordable and environmentally friendly options for businesses to move goods and critical infrastructure to support passenger railroads.”

Here are more excerpts from that letter:

“We are deeply concerned that this regulatory effort could greatly cut into capital spending by the railroads. Past analysis by the Association of American Railroads found that a similar proposal could affect an estimated 7.5 million carloads of traffic, placing nearly $8 billion in revenues at risk. Reduced revenues mean reduced money for investment in the rail network and reduced demand for businesses like ours. Continued investments are critical for maintaining a safe and efficient rail network and allow us to provide strong employment opportunities in our communities.

The railroad supply community plays an integral role in maintaining the world’s safest, most efficient and highly competitive freight railroad system. We also provide high-paying and high-skilled manufacturing jobs in our communities.

We support a transparent and efficient STB and believe that the agency maintains an important role in maintaining a proven regulatory structure. But we do not support the STB’s recent trend of imposing regulations first, and discovering the consequences later.”

Click here to read more.