How the WVCO Railroad Solutions Are Revolutionizing the Rail Supply Industry

Division Spotlight: WVCO Railroad Division
WVCO Railroad
Did you know that the rail industry’s roots go all the way back to 1st millennia BC when the Ancient Greeks used a prepared earth road that forced land cars to follow a predetermined path? European countries began to use railroads back in the 1600s to help transport coal and eventually other materials. 

By the early 1800s, it began transporting passengers and for the last 2 centuries, railroads have been the backbone of the U.S. economy and have evolved to provide efficient and advanced transportation solutions to American businesses and consumers. 

Maintaining our modern rail system is no small feat and the rail supply industry has also seen advancements in repair products and methods through the years. Before 1999, the only spike-hole plugging products on the market for wood-tie remediation were wooden plugs and rigid foam products.

While these products were effective, they presented numerous challenges to railroad maintenance crews. They needed spike-hole plugging products that could last longer and perform well in extreme weather conditions, including heavy rain, freezing temperatures and high humidity. WVCO’s Railroad Solutions responded to this challenge and developed and engineered a new solution, SpikeFast®, a dual-component, non-foam polyurethane product that is currently regarded as the industry’s most reliable product for plugging spike holes. 

Today the railway supply industry plays an essential role in the U.S. economy in terms of jobs, tax revenue, and gross domestic product (GDP) on both the state and national level and we are proud to be a part of it. The importance of this industry and it’s many challenges is what drives us to provide some of the most innovative maintenance solutions on the market for modern railroads including wood and concrete tie repair materials, dispensing systems and FastPatch® and POLYQuik® products to improve the durability of structural applications. 

We have partnered with leading organizations like Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) to better serve our customers by having access to the latest technologies, methodologies, and resources. 

Visit wvcorailroad.com/products to learn more about WVCO’s Railroad Solutions.

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!

Willamette Valley Company to Exhibit at Railway Interchange 2019

 

Railroad SpikeFast

Willamette Valley Company is looking forward to exhibiting our Railroad products and FastPatch products at Railway Interchange 2019, the largest U.S.-based technical conference and trade show for the railroad industry! The combined railway industry event, sponsored by AREMA, RSI, REMSA and RSSI, takes place September 22-25, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

An estimated 7,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world are expected to attend this world-class rail industry event. The event combines the technical conferences of 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.)

Photo @ Railway Interchange

Railway Interchange is an ideal venue for our Railroad Division to share it’s leading-edge systems and products for plugging spike holes in both concrete ties and wood ties as well as unique application systems to accurately apply them. Our team will meet with railroad professionals from around the world as they seize the opportunity to see and hear all that is new and innovative across the entire rail supply industry.

The demand for WVCO’s railroad maintenance and repair products continues to grow steadily, but it’s our proprietary product, SpikeFast, that is becoming known by most railroads as the industry standard.

SpikeFast, a non-foam polyurethane product, was created in 1999 as an alternative to wood plugs and other plugging materials. The result was a more reliable and efficient system of wood-tie remediation. Performance tests commissioned by national railroads indicate that SpikeFast outperforms wood plugs, polymeric foam, and epoxy foam. Watch the video for more details.

We hope you’ll stop by our booth to learn more about these and other repair and maintenance products.

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

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.

 

 

Innovators We Admire: Dirk Ahlborn

Dirk-Ahlborn

Photo Source CrowdFundInsider.com

“New technologies and new ideas, can create a better passenger experience while solving these issues through new monetization strategies and business models, with the Hyperloop and all other forms of transportation.” – Dirk Ahlborn

Innovation can’t thrive in a vacuum; external factors, opposing views, tools, and resources must come together to create the breakthroughs that propel us forward. Few know that as well as Dirk Ahlborn, Founder and CEO of JumpStarter Inc. which operates JumpStartFund  and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).

Ahlborn’s mission was to create a new platform for scientific funding and the bringing together of minds. “We already have a process to help create a physical startup. Why not do that online?” asks Ahlborn. “Why not create an online crowdsourced incubator? This way we allow tech-disconnected hubs to connect with the best technology hubs and co-found new companies. It’s all about building communities smarter and faster.” It’s this collaboration of communities and hubs that have lead the way for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Watch as Ahlborn discusses his ideas about the world’s next breakthrough in transportation on the news program, Business Rockstars.

The term Hyperloop, a concept popularized by super innovator Elon Musk (most famous for Telsa), is a system of transportation that uses tubes and air compression to reach incredible speeds. Inspired by this idea, Dirk Ahlborn and Jumpstarter Inc. built HTT, a research crowd collaboration company working to develop a high-speed transportation system.

Hyperloop

Photo Source Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

HTT aims to create a high speed intercity transport that travels close to 800 miles an hour as well slower, inter-suburban travel. The project would have a capacity of 15 million passengers a year. Putting this into further context, an airplane travels at most at 500mph and most trains at 200mph. Beyond its speed, the Hyperloop boasts many other proposed benefits, such as being self-sufficient through renewable energy, a greater emphasis for safety, lower construction costs, and affordable travel.

This may sound like a far-off fantasy but it’s closer than one may think.  In a partnership with Deustche Bahn, HTT will be working to create an “Innovation Train,” a conventional train powered through the technology of HTT for greater efficiency. One such piece of tech would be the creation and use of Augmented Reality windows, as seen below.

Dirk Ahlborn knows that innovation can’t thrive when it’s isoated, it’s only when great minds come together that breakthroughs occur. This philosophy is already bringing about changes to the transportation industry and will only continue from here. For these reasons and many more, we name Dirk Ahlborn our “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

If you’re looking to hear about more incredible innovators bringing the latest breakthroughs to the transportation industry, be sure to take part in AREMA’s 2016 Expo.

Note: Dirk Ahlborn does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

JumpStartFund

Tech.EU

TechnoBuffalo

Latest SpikeFast® Products to be Unveiled at 2016 AREMA Expo

Railroad SpikeFast It is widely agreed among transportation industry leaders that the WVCO Railroad Division is among the best in providing innovative new products and application systems for today’s railroads. Our proprietary product, SpikeFast®, is considered to be the industry’s most reliable product for plugging spike holes. Other solutions include railroad tie products for wood and concrete ties, and unique application systems.

In just over a month, team members from our WVCO Railroad Division will arrive in Orlando, Florida to demonstrate our railroad products and POLYQuik Roadway Repair materials to railway engineering professionals representing all segments of the industry, at the AREMA 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition August 28-31, 2016.

This annual event attracts generations of leaders in the railroad industry who go there to network, attend technical presentations, seminars and more. This is a unique opportunity for us to see and hear all that is new and innovative across the entire rail supply industry while developing solutions to some of the many challenges facing the transportation industry.

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) is one of the outstanding organizations WVCO has partnered with; thus enabling us to better serve our customers by giving us access to the latest technologies, methodologies, and resources. The 5,500+ members that comprise AREMA include a diverse group of railway and transit engineers, consultants, contractors, suppliers, academicians, federal and state governmental employees and others.

If you are attending this year’s expo, please be on the lookout for our team at Booth #301 on the interactive expo floor!

About AREMA
The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) was formed as the result of a merger of three engineering support associations, namely the American Railway Bridge and Building Association, the American Railway Engineering Association and the Roadmaster’s and Maintenance of Way Association, along with functions of the Communications and Signals Division of the Association of American Railroads. The rich history of the predecessor organizations, each having over 100 years of service to the rail industry, is the legacy of AREMA.