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The most advanced tamping machine in the Balkans

ZGOP a.d. Novi Sad, one of the oldest track construction companies in the Balkans, is also a company with an extraordinarily dynamic development. In March 2019, the company took on a latest-generation Unimat 08-32/4S, and now has the most advanced tamping machine in the region.

ZGOP Novi Sad was founded in 1957 and is today one of the most important track construction companies in Serbia. The company constructed and repaired over 5,000 km of railway track in the last few years. Currently, the company is very active in Serbia where a large investment programme for upgrading the railway infrastructure is underway. A major project within this undertaking is the pan-European railway corridor X from Salzburg via Belgrade to Thessaloniki, which is to be key for access of the Serbian economy to the European economic area. Naturally, ZGOP a.d. Novi Sad is also involved in the construction work for this corridor.

Decades of cooperation with Plasser & Theurer

ZGOP has been working in partnership with Plasser & Theurer for decades. As early as 1978, the company put into operation a RM 74 U ballast cleaning machine, with a second one following in 1980. Taking delivery of a Unimat Combi 08-275 in 1987 marked the beginning of setting up a tamping machine fleet. After over 30 years, this first tamping machine of ZGOP is still in operation.

Following privatisation of the company and its acquisition by Integra Construction KZ, a contract for the purchase of a latest-design Unimat 08-32/4S was entered into at the end of 2017. In March 2019, the machine was delivered. In the same month the operator team arrived in Linz to be trained in the new technologies on board the machine. A joint visit of the ZGOP Director Zoran Stanojević and his Technical Director Milan Lukić in Linz to get a first impression of the new machine demonstrated ZGOP’s commitment and its genuine partnership with Plasser & Theurer. The two gentlemen also took part in the practical training, which took place at ZGOP in Novi Sad at the end of March. This was important as Milan Lukić is one of very few qualified experts for mechanised track construction in the region and has been our competent and reliable contact with regard to technical issues for a long time.

The company Lukintehnik, which represents Plasser & Theurer in Serbia, Montenegro as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, also played an important role within this contract. Their specialists proved themselves indispensable as experienced translators in the theoretical and practical training and contributed considerably to the contract being handled in everybody’s best interest.

Latest technologies in new designs

The new Unimat 08-32/4S of ZGOP is a cyclic action 2-sleeper tamping machine for working tracks and turnouts. It becomes apparent straight away that this is a machine of latest-technology design. Inside this becomes evident from the latest control system P-IC 2.0 and the track geometry guiding computer SmartALC. The measurement data is recorded via the digital measurement value recorder DRP. A CAL curve laser is used for the measurement of lining and level errors on straights and in curves. In addition, PlasserDatamatic 2.0 allows for key machine data to be transmitted from the track straight to the office in real time.

The tamping unit of the machine is equipped with speed control. When the tamping tines penetrate the ballast, the frequency can be increased to 45 Hz, making it much easier to penetrate heavily encrusted ballast. Apart from that, the speed control also reduces the noise emission significantly and helps to protect the whole unit. The Serbians were immediately fascinated by this new technology.

Maintenance not only for own machines

The Unimat 08-32/4S is already in operation and is deployed mainly for projects in the region. In view of the huge investment into Serbia’s rail infrastructure there is no shortage of work. ZGOP maintains the machine itself. The company has an in-house workshop in Novi Sad that employs around 70 staff. The majority of employees work in a large hall covering an area of 2,800 m² and a total of six tracks. The workshop has experts for all specialist areas required for maintaining track maintenance machines. In addition, ZGOP also has an accredited laboratory on site, amongst others for ultrasound measurements, brakes, wheel profile measurements, earthing and electrical resistance.

Thanks to the first-class conditions with regard to personnel and facilities, the ZGOP workshop also maintains vehicles of the Serbian national railway, in addition to its own machines. If one bears in mind that Plasser & Theurer’s first tamping machine is still in operation after 30 years, the operation of the new Unimat 08-32/4S should just be the beginning of a long service life.