The 21st century generation

18 March 2013  •  Author: Thermit Welding

In 1837, Theodore Goldschmidt founded the Goldschmidt Company in Berlin to supply chemicals to the textile industry and established a facility for the development of processes for refining metals and their oxides. In March 1895, Dr. Hans Goldschmidt was granted German patent no 96317 for “a process to manufacture metals and alloys”, based upon the reduction of heavy metal oxides by a more reactive metal such as aluminium.

The process was first was first adapted for use on the railway in 1899, where the reaction provided the thermal energy for the forge-welding of rails, and was used in Essen; the first recorded usage in the UK was in 1904 when the process was used to weld rails on the Leeds tramway.

The rest, as they say, is history; now fast forward to the twenty-first century!

Smartweld

Today, Thermit Welding’s drive to examine all areas of its business has resulted in some surprising changes!

Many experienced welders working on the infrastructure, underground and light rail systems have used Thermit Welding’s process since the day they first started in the industry, and have seen many changes in the process; fixed height pre-heat, automatic tapping as well as the introduction of zircon-faced moulds.

With the introduction of the Smartweld Control project the rail welding engineer has now the ability to monitor the welding process; from the start of the pre-heat to the beginning of the shear.

Thermit Welding has now moved the Smartweld Control to the next generation with the introduction of a smaller in-line unit that can communicate, once the software is loaded, with a laptop, touchpad or android telephone. The welder will be able to record every part of the welding process to allow him to demonstrate an assurance of quality to his client or manager that was previously only wished for. For sub-contract welding companies, especially, the cost savings could prove to be very beneficial.

Further automation of Thermit Welding’s aluminothermic process is proceeding with one or two developments set to be released later in the year.

Products and Services for the 21st Century Track Engineer

Metrology

Many of Thermit Welding’s clients are aware that Thermit Welding was formed in 1958 by the Goldschmidt Company in partnership with Murex Ltd to manufacture and distribute welding processes under the Thermit trademark. What is not generally known is that the ownership of Thermit Welding reverted back to the Goldschmidt family in 2000 and is now part of the Goldschmidt-Thermit Group, (GT-G), which today comprises of over 20 companies worldwide, which gives access to a raft of complementary services and products, as well as experience gained in the UK rail market over 109 years.

Thermit Welding is recognized within the group as a centre of excellence for innovation, which is illustrated by recent developments in the field of Stress Free temperature (SFT) measurement.

When Goldschmidt-Thermit’s development engineers needed to conduct extended trials on the Tracksafe-release system they turned to Thermit Welding to help develop and prove the technique.

Once fully operational the service will allow SFT measurement to be conducted with the absolute minimum of disruption to the track.

Coupled with the Trackload system, which can provide the track engineer responsible with 24 hour real- time updates via a sender unit to a dedicated website on the stress condition of the rail, Thermit Welding can allow the track engineer to set up a monitoring program that was unheard of a few years ago.

Services for the Track Engineer

GT-G’s pool of Rail Grinding vehicles has expanded to include 12 stone capability, offering higher productivity, and has proved to be very useful on European suburban routes as well as continuing to offer excellent service to tram systems. The vehicles retain all of the features of the VM8000 series, being self contained, allowing travel on the surrounding roadways of the rail system being serviced with the ability of accessing and egressing track in around 30 seconds from a small area of hard standing. For tram systems this can mean that some areas of track can be worked whilst trams are running. The rail grinding units employed on the vehicles have such a good range of operational movement they are able to accommodate the re-profiling and removal of corrugation on virtually any rail profile.

Thermit Welding’s expertise in track stabilization continues, with new techniques and materials for treating ballast areas to prevent stone movement in switches during water-jetting, creating transitions for slab to ballast track, anti-vandal treatments and ballast disruption in tunnels on high-speed routes.

It will come as no surprise to many track engineers to hear that many of these techniques are used throughout Europe and the rest of the world. One of the more novel uses is to bond ballast at tram stops that are close to sports stadiums – these areas are usually coloured to match the home team’s colours!

Thermit Welding now produces several different sizes of ballast board, which are small slabs of chippings, that are bonded together to facilitate easy packing whilst maintaining the drainage capability of the ballast.

Today, along with many other environmentally-aware companies, Thermit Welding is constantly looking for ways to improve the effect of its products and services on the environment.

Research by Goldschmidt-Thermit through its worldwide group of companies is developing alternative sources of energy for many of its products, which, when coupled to innovative developments within the processes, will give the track engineer truly mobile, lightweight products that will allow the operations within track welding and engineering to be accomplished without the need for heavy-duty equipment.

The first sparks of inspiration, that were seen in 1895, have now grown, and are now providing through the white heat of Thermit Welding’s innovative technology, products that will help the UK to a 21st Century Railway.

STOP PRESS

Thermit Welding is very pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Allan Binstead as Managing Director. Allan Joined Thermit Welding on 1st November, 2012 and took position as M.D. on 1st January, 2013 to work in partnership with Mr. Richard Johnson, who has taken the role of Technical Director to concentrate on technical development and innovation projects for Thermit Welding and the Goldschmidt-Thermit Group.

Allan has experience of working in the rail sector from his time at Huck fasteners that are used in track and major makes of rail vehicle; and Oleo International, manufacturers of buffers and end stops.

His training and qualifications as a Materials Scientist has led to other substantial leadership roles in safety critical industries including working as a Technical Specialist in Rolls Royce Aerospace.

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