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Keeping Trains on Track

Keeping Trains on Track

Genesse & Wyoming Australia’s freight yards at Dry Creek north of Adelaide have the sort of massive sheds you would expect in a place where the locomotives that run on the line from Adelaide to Darwin are maintained. The smell of diesel and the thrum of idling engines greet you as you emerge from a small office perched high above the platforms to a scene that would transfix a small child – several engines in bold orange with black stripes waiting to be tended to in an industrial cathedral with yellow-railed platforms instead of pews.

But it’s not a gloomy space. Hanging high from the roof beams are dozens of LED highbays called SKYPADS. They cast a light so powerful from over 10 metres high that the yellow railing throws a distinct shadow on the platform.

Power savings

The story is a familiar one. The platforms and welding bays used to be lit by 400W metal halide. Two years ago the monthly power bill was $15,000. Now it’s $11,500, 23% lower. That reduction is in a bill for a facility that uses power for a great deal more than just lighting. And it has stayed steady in a state where over that two years electricity prices have climbed to the unwanted status of being the highest in the world. Throw in the fact that the metal halides needed their bulbs replaced every 18 months with all the attendant difficulties and costs associated with that and you can see why GWA think they made the right choice to switch to LED.

And little wonder that Haneco, the manufacturer and supplier of those SKYPADS is one of the fastest growing companies in South Australia.

Lived like mushrooms

David Rogers, the Locomotive Manager at GWA, has been impressed with the SKYPADS’ performance. GWA replaced the lights in stages and in one area with a lower ceiling the old highbays remained. “You could actually go and stand under a [metal halide] highbay and the SKYPADs up further and across were making you create a shadow and not the [metal halide] highbays – that’s how much better they were. A lot of the guys’ comments were that we lived like mushrooms for 20 years.”

Tough test

In this harsh environment the LED highbays have fared well. Out of the 77 lights replaced 4 have failed over 2 years. Light levels have not diminished to the extent that this is seen as a problem (“the others just compensate”) and the company is aware that these failures are well within the warranty period. Considering what is being demanded of these lights – most being on for between 16 and 20 hours a day, 5 days a week with 30 running permanently for the last several months, a 5% failure rate over 2 years compares very favorably with the performance of the conventional metal halide highbays which would be “triple that” with all the rest needing their bulbs changed as their lumen output noticeably diminished.

So even with the challenge of a few failures, a large company like GWA has not had to spend time worrying about lighting. There are goods trains that need to be kept on track.


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