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NZ company wins international rail contracts

NZ company wins international rail contracts

The new breed of super fast trains coming into service throughout the world may soon be relying on door control units created in New Zealand.

The high tech units replace older systems that are no longer reliable or robust enough to meet the demanding requirements of high speed passenger trains, and are the work of Palmerston North based Conzept Engineering, working in partnership with Noske-Kaeser NZ and R&D Technology Solutionz (RDTS).

Conzept has received exports orders of more than $1 million but General Manager, Keith Smith, says the project may not have got off the ground without investment from government funding agency, Technology New Zealand. Conzept received $120,000 through Technology New Zealand’s Technology for Business Growth (TBG) scheme, which allowed the company to tap into outside expertise of Noske-Kaeser NZ and RDTS.

“We may have had to look for a new investor or gone offshore without the government support,” said Mr Smith.

The control units must ensure train doors are fail-safe. They detect obstructions so that no-one gets caught, remain closed while the train is moving without being affected by vibrations or rattles and perform to high standards over many years of rigorous service. The software within each door unit communicates with the train’s operating system, detecting and reporting faults and triggering alarms when needed.

During the testing phase, the control unit opened and closed a test door 250,000 times without fault before being considered reliable. The unit was also rigorously tested for electromagnetic compatibility with train systems, and underwent extended shock and vibration trials.

Conzept has made its first delivery to Australia where they will be built into the doors of high speed trains for use in Melbourne and Perth. Mr Smith said further negotiations were underway to supply a large number of units for a European train project. Noske-Kaeser markets the product, Conzept’s role centres on production.

“The key message to the success of this project is that we had our customer on board before development work began. That’s a luxury for some, but having the customer with you from the outset keeps you on track with what the market wants, not what you think it wants,” says Mr Smith.

“We’ve been successful with air conditioning systems worldwide but this new product takes the brand and mana to a new level,” he said.

Conzept has an international reputation in the transport industry for its manufacturing of air-conditioning units which it produces in partnership with Noske-Kaesar, a German company which has a design and project management subsidiary in Palmerston North. The relationship began in 1990 when the German parent company was awarded the contract to supply air conditioning units for ten ANZAC frigates.

Mr Smith says supplying two different products – air-conditioners and door control units – is a good synergy for the company.

Conzept, which has 75 staff, is relatively unknown in New Zealand because most of its manufacturing work is subcontracted by companies, such as Noske-Kaeser.

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