THE STARTING POINT
The Belgian railway company SNCB operates various maintenance hangars for vehicles. At the Arlon facility, some 125 railway employees are engaged in cleaning, servicing or repairing railway carriages. This involves the use of large, mobile, rail-guided work platforms, which are moved along the maintenance line. The work platforms allow optimum access to the individual vehicle areas and must guarantee absolute stability.
PHYSICAL STRAIN, HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
One of SNCB’s top priorities is to continuously improve safety in the maintenance hangar. Ergonomic optimisation and the improvement of working conditions for the employees are equally important. The company wants to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, which can be caused by stooping, for example. The maintenance platforms need to be integrated into this concept as precisely as possible. They should be easy to manoeuvre and provide employees with convenient and comfortable access to windows, exterior walls and all other vehicle surfaces. The platforms are not allowed to move at all as soon as anyone steps onto them – even if employees are handling high-pressure cleaners or other heavy objects.
The Belgian railway company was therefore looking for a solution that would meet these exacting requirements in full – they found the right answer with the Alpha safety.
OUR SMART MOBILITY SOLUTION
The Alpha safety has an integrated locking system that ensures maximum safety at work. As with luggage trolleys at the airport, the castors can only be moved when the user keeps the operating handle of the wheel lock pressed. If the handle is released, the castors are automatically locked and the platform immediately stands still and as steady as a rock. In this way the Alpha safety guarantees a secure footing.
Thanks to the castor’s outstanding running properties, the large maintenance platform can also be pushed effortlessly in a straight line to the respective working areas. As soon as the operator releases the handle in order to enter the maintenance platform, the platform does not move an inch. We also considered the challenge from an ergonomic perspective: The handle for releasing the wheel lock is located at shoulder height, is easily accessible and is therefore also comfortable to operate.
Our engineers also focused their attention on the immediate surroundings. They made sure that the castors could not be released unintentionally – for example, if an employee with a heavy object should hit the work platform or accidentally come into contact with the operating handle. The operating element and the brake are connected via a Bowden cable, which is protected from damage by a steel tube. The force required to operate the handle has been set so precisely that it is not possible to release the lock accidentally.
MAXIMUM WORK SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS
The large maintenance platforms can be moved easily, but are rendered absolutely immobile as soon as employees release the locking handle and step onto the platform. Even if they are working with heavy equipment, the maintenance platform remains stable, stationary and safe. Accidental unlocking of the wheels is also prevented, as are dangers caused by third parties. In addition, the Alpha safety reduces physical strain. This is because the locking device’s operating handle is ergonomically positioned to improve health conditions in SNCB´s maintenance hall.