Cleaner air is our passion

Cleaner air is our passion

In railway maintenance depots, hands may get grimy but Blaschke Umwelttechnik GmbH keeps the air clean.

For over 40 years, the Bavaria-based manufacturer has been supplying exhaust extraction systems to the sector, with French Railways (SNCF) its longest standing and biggest client outside Germany.

Exhaust fumes emitted when servicing and maintaining diesel motor blocks in closed workshops pose a health risk to workers.

The particle components released – such as carbon monoxides, nitrogen oxides, benzene, hydrocarbons and rust particles, depending on the engine and fuel types – are classified carcinogenic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In response, over the years Blaschke has developed a range of extraction systems designed to control exhaust fume emissions in workshops.

“Local extraction, directly at source, is a more efficient and cost-effective method than overall (indirect) extraction of all the air in a workshop,” Murielle Schuller, Export Manager, Blaschke, told BtoB Rail.

“Given the fumes are removed directly at the tailpipe, not from the entire hall, there is less air volume to draw out and the fans and pipes can be smaller, thus reducing energy consumption and noise levels.

German manufacturer Blaschke Umwelttechnik GmbH, headquartered in Meitingen, near Augsburg and Munich, Bavaria, was founded in 1976. Today, the mid-sized, family-run company is still managed by its founder, Hans-J. Blaschke.

Nantes Mobile Swivel

Nantes Mobile Swivel

Meeting requirements

There is no international standard governing the levels of dangerous particle components in fumes emitted in rail maintenance facilities. Countries generally tend to adopt their own approach to this health issue, with differing rules and regulations.

In France, for example, depots are obliged by law to check once a year by measuring the levels of components; albeit the specific components and their levels, except for carbon monoxide (CO2), are not clearly defined. The German TRGS 554 regulation, which requires controlled exposure to diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) in the workplace, recommends using a local extraction system as one action to help reduce emissions.

The extraction systems by Blaschke meet all existing requirements covering exhaust fumes, both in Europe and the rest of the world.

Over 40 years, Blaschke’s roster of clients spanning the globe include Hitachi Rail Europe in the U.K., French Railways (SNCF), Belgian Railways (SNCB), Austrian Railways (ÖBB), and Deutsche Bahn (DB), as well as all the regional railway operators in Germany such as DB Regio Erfurt in Münster, BRB in Augsburg, and KVG Schöllkrippen – which generally tend to be small private companies running diesel trains.

Fan with Iso fonic Capsule in Muhlouse

Long term with SNCF

Blaschke has been working with SNCF since 2006, equipping its maintenance depots across France at Toulouse, Rennes, Noisy-le-Sec, Mulhouse, Granville, Marseille, Dijon, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Sibelin, Sotteville-Les-Rouen, Landy, and more besides.

The extraction equipment is tailored to meet the specific needs of each installation, e.g. the structure of the building in question, the types of trains serviced.

“We installed our first system for SNCF 12 years ago, at its Midi-Pyrénées Technicentre in Toulouse, and it’s still going strong!” said Ms Schuller.

“Then in 2015 we introduced another system here, developed specifically for SNCF, for servicing a new, dual mode vehicle type – the Regiolis. This new generation multiple unit by manufacturer Alstom has two different drive versions – electric and diesel-electric.

At the Midi-Pyrénées Technicentre, the gantry is designed for carrying out maintenance on the rooftops of the Regiolis trains. Blaschke fitted its innovative system with mobile swivel arms onto this existing gantry.

“So today, this maintenance depot has our oldest system, which is simple yet still effective, functioning in parallel to one of our latest, which is more complex and even more flexible,” said Ms Schuller.
The new, mobile swivel arm system has also been installed for dual mode trains at SNCF’s depots in Granville and Mulhouse. And a third such unit is currently being fitted at a workshop (dating back to the end of the C19th/early C20th) in Rennes, Brittany.

“SNCF only wanted equipment by Blaschke for this depot because they know from experience that the swivel arm system requires next-to-no maintenance and functions well,” pointed out Ms Schuller.

The specifications issued by SNCF for this special system stipulated the following requirements:

- easy to operate and no major architectural changes required

- guaranteed high safety standards for servicing dual mode trains

In response, Blaschke fits its mobile swivel system so the arms run along the top of the gantry without creating any obstructions for maintenance workers. Not only does this save space, but thanks to the rotating action of the equipment it can extract exhaust fumes from two sides.

With regards safety, since the Regiolis engines are dual mode (diesel and electric), the extraction system must function in proximity to overhead wires most of the time. This is not a problem, says Blaschke, because the majority of the wires are retractable in those workshops.

Standing out from the crowd

“For SNCF it’s very much about supplying bespoke solutions such as the swivel arm,” says Ms Schuller. “We developed our new gantry-based system following their request for a system designed to suit small depots. The company operates five different types of train engine in service, which means pretty much every fume extraction project for them is unique.

In comparison, a market like the U.K. where the trains, regardless of the operator, tend to have the same type of engine, has simpler needs: here RailPoint is the most popular choice for most Blaschke clients.

“Over 40 years, Blaschke has developed plenty of new solutions, like telescopic arms and rotatable exhaust bridges,” said Ms Schuller. “Of course, we can propose simple solutions. We can also combine solutions to make our systems quite unique.”

Blaschke stands out from the crowd thanks to its combination of experience and the personal touch. Simple or complex, the company is confident it can serve any type of locomotive since every extraction system is manufactured according to the specific requirements of each client.

“We’re not the only supplier on the rail market, but what makes us stand out is our experience and ability to tailor the systems,” said Ms Schuller. Long service lives and maintenance-to-a-minimum are further benefits: for most clients, Blaschke needs to provide a 10- to 20-year life cycle for its installations.

“This is not a problem since we have some systems that are 30 years old and still in use,” Ms Schuller told BtoB Rail. “Sometimes customers do not maintain the system. After eight years they might call because “maybe it’s time to do a check-up” and then we usually just have to adjust some belts, tighten screws, clean the system, and its ready to go again.”

Mobile Swivel Arm on Gantry - special solution for SNCF

Rennes Fix Swivel Arm DUO

Business building

Systems by Blaschke are up and running across the globe from Germany – Krefeld, Dresden, Hannover, Halle, Munster, Cologne, Niebüll, and Augsburg – and the U.K. – North Pole, Stoke Gifford, and Doncaster – to the Netherlands (Rotterdam), Belgium (Aarlon), Austria (Graz, Knitterfeld), and Turkey (Ankara, Balikesir).

Projects are ongoing in Liège, Belgium, for operator SNCB; in Norwich, England, together with partner Mechan for clients Taylor Woodrow and Greater Anglia; and in New York.

Looking to the future, with more electrification of the railways, isn’t there a risk exhaust extraction will be phased out of maintenance depots?
“While all the major lines in countries will or are being electrified, there are plenty of secondary, smaller branch lines that will continue operating either diesel or diesel-electric hybrid trains,” said Ms Schuller.

In the coming years Blaschke is keen to extend its reach into Africa, where it is confident appetite for its products will grow – “because a lot of rail investment is happening there right now,” pointed out Ms Schuller, “plus much of the infrastructure and rolling stock work is being carried out by French firms like Alstom, Eiffage and SNCF.”

So does having a proven track record with a major rail player stand Blaschke in good stead when seeking business elsewhere? “Yes, when looking to join a project it helps to have contacts and experience with an internationally recognised group like SNCF,” Ms Schuller told BtoBRail.

Catch up in Berlin, September 2018!

InnoTrans is simply a must for our company. This trade fair has been very important for us for many years,” says founder and CEO Hans-J. Blaschke.

“For a company like ours, which offers a niche product, this fair is a unique opportunity to get to know many international business people, draw their attention to the pollution problems in railway maintenance depots caused by diesel-powered railway vehicles, and present our solutions.”

Hall 23a, Booth 530


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