With a new model of the road-rail robot Vlex, Vollert in Weinsberg, Germany has extened its compact solution to shunting operations up to 600 tons. Twice as strong, but only 500mm larger, the new Vlex 40 is also suitable for fast track changes in confined spaces. A swing axle guarantees permanent ground or rail contact of all four wheels, even on uneven ground. And thanks to the emission-free electric drive, operation in closed storage and production areas is also possible.
The extremely maneuverable shunting solution is used, for example, in the South Korean metro in Seoul: for moving tank wagons at Lanxess in Leverkusen; or for loading lime at Rheinkalk Grevenbrück GmbH.
The new model with a tensile load of 40kN and a weight of 10 tons doubles the range of application of the compact, manoeuvrable and emission-free
road-rail solution from 300 tons for the Vlex 20 to 600 tons now, thus increasing flexibility when moving freight wagons or internal transport wagons.
In one-man operation, the radio-controlled all-round vehicle changes quickly and easily from the track to the road and vice versa. Its ingenious vehicle geometry with articulated steering and four individually controlled wheel hub motors make it extremely manoeuvrable andeconomical. They enable tyre-friendly turning radii of only 7.2m up to 360° turns on the spot. Solid rubber tyres and the high dead weight ensure optimum traction. A swing axle guarantees the safe continuous ground and rail contact of all four wheels, so that potholes, height differences in the track or smaller obstacles can be overcome without loss of traction. In addition, track guide rollers are lowered hydraulically for rail travel.
“Companies often have several shifting areas in logistics or production. If so, the Vlex offers the necessary flexibility in shunting operations. By
extending the range of application to 600 tonnes, we are also responding to numerous customer enquiries that require the shunting of four to five
wagons at a time,” explains Jürgen Schiemer, head of shunting systems at Vollert.
Two years ago, Vollert launched its innovative road-rail robot Vlex for the first time. Since then, the robust solution has successfully proven itself in rough railway operations on sidings, in tram and underground railway depots and in industry. An important aspect is the possible use of the battery powered Vlex outdoors and indoors, especially given internationally increasing diesel emission protection regulations in closed halls. For the metro in Seoul, the state-owned South Korean railway company Korail relies on a Vollert Vlex 20 to move wagons in various halls for maintenance.
The Swiss rail vehicle manufacturer Stadler uses the Vlex solution for pushing double-deck wagons up and down in combination with a transfer table in its new plant in St. Margrethen. Already during the construction phase, the versatile application possibilities and the high flexibility when shunting and avoiding obstacles were brought to bear.
Indoors and outdoors
The road-rail robot is also suitable for uneven and unpaved floors. At a chemical company Lanxess in Leverkusen, Germany, a Vlex is used to move tank and freight wagons outside of regular shunting operations. Rheinkalk Grevenbrück GmbH also relies on the robustness of the robot in its lime plant under difficult conditions, because the moist lime acts like soft soap on the tracks.
Nevertheless, the Vlex brings four empty wagons each to the loading station with turnouts, curves and an ascending slope on the track. The previoussolution could only move and shunt one wagon. The use of the Vlex shunting device therefore optimises the shunting process in terms of time.