today 138

Optimum welding quality and great versatility

For two years, our state-of-the-art welding robot has been producing consistently high quality on Europe’s new railway lines.

In May 2020, Swietelsky AG purchased our cutting-edge APT 1500 RL road-rail welding robot. The company has been operating it on various European railway worksites from Croatia to Denmark ever since. Swietelsky has already very successfully employed our welding technology in the past. More than ten years ago, Swietelsky used the very first APT 1500 RA to reconnect rails during all track renewal work performed by the company. Since then, the track-bound machine has completed more than 15,000 welding operations, many of them as closure welds, in Austria.

Denmark: demanding track geometry requirements

Swietelsky was in charge of all welding services during construction of the new fixed link of the Fehmarn Belt between Germany and Denmark. An older Swietelsky welding machine was originally intended for this task. However, the construction height of the Fastclip rail fastenings used on the Ringsted-Fehmarn line posed a great challenge when manually positioning the rails in the work unit. That is why the new welding lorry with our welding unit took over on short notice. Thanks to special lifting clamps, it is possible to weld the rails independently of the track.

40 welds in one shift

By June 2020, around 280 welding operations had been completed. After the summer, the APT continued working on the Danish line until the middle of December 2020. On average, 30 welds were performed per shift. The record was an impressive 40 weld joints. The short cycle time of about two minutes combined with the interactive P-IC operation and control system enable such high outputs with our welding unit.

So far, the APT 1500 lorry welding machine has exceeded our expectations. It delivered consistent performance and quality. Our customers are very impressed with its versatility and welding output.

Matthias Schauer, Swietelsky AG

Germany: very tight tolerances

As early as July 2020, the APT 1500 RL took on a first-time assignment: track construction work for the new German high-speed line Wendlingen-Ulm. The Swabian Jura represented a completely different working environment for the machine than Denmark. It entailed working on ballastless track, frequent operations in tunnels, and more stringent standardisation with very tight tolerances. The APT 1500 RL was also able to prove its qualities in this scenario, delivering consistently excellent quality. The assignment continued through 2021 until the new line was finished.

On track, the APT 1500 RL runs on a lowerable running gear. Should the machine hinder construction vehicles travelling on the track, it can be removed within minutes.

Versatile and cost-efficient operation

Operated by Swietelsky, the APT 1500 RL mobile welding robot is demonstrating its versatility in many European countries. Besides Germany and Denmark, the APT has worked in Austria, the Netherlands, and Croatia.

The flexibility achieved by the machine concept, the resulting savings in costs and time during transfer travel, and the high welding quality achieved on many worksites are compelling. From June to December 2020, a total of around 1,700 welding operations were performed. There are no final numbers available for 2021. However, there were more than 2,000 welding operations.

Stringent approval requirements

Different countries also require different types of welding certification. Take Germany as an example. While the entire vehicle technology must be approved by the Federal Railway Authority, the working and welding technology must be approved by the DB Netz AG itself, and the operating company must be certified as a welding manufacturer.

Compliance with strict European standards ensures that the required welding quality is achieved. In addition to increased geometry accuracy after welding, the welding robot certified as per EN 14587-2 also fulfils a higher fracture and fatigue strength and the conditions for the welding sequence.

Capable of welding highly wear-resistant rails and performing closure welding without an additional rail-pulling device, the APT 1500 RL offers many advantages. Swietelsky particularly emphasises the integrated upset metal trimming that takes place directly in the welding head. As a result, less post-weld machining is required. It is possible to skip rough grinding and go directly over to finish grinding.

The Fehmarn Belt

is a strait in the western part of the Baltic Sea between the islands of Fehmarn (Germany) and Lolland (Denmark). The construction project is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe. It comprises a 17.6 km long fixed link and the expansion of the rail network in the hinterland.