South African cables manufacturer Aberdare Cables earlier this month launched its latest production line at its Pietermaritzburg manufacturing plant, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The new line, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) designation programme, was designed to produce cables for State-owned rail operators the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and Transnet’s combined R100-billion locomotive build programmes.
Aberdare CEO Keith Edmond tells Engineering News that the company has successfully delivered cables for the first five locomotives being manufactured by South African black-empowered rail company Gibela Rail Transport Consortium for PRASA’s new locomotive build programme, which will result in 600 commuter trains being manufactured over ten years.
Aberdare power operations technical manager Wayne Munilall explains that the cables are installed in the coach panels and are used to power internal components, as well as the locomotive engine rooms.
Gibela, which is 61%-owned by French transport and energy solutions company Alstom, will manufacture PRASA’s first 20 locomotives in Brazil. The balance of the 600 locomotives will be manufactured locally once the consortium’s 85 000 m2 manufacturing facility, in Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni, is completed. The last locomotive has been scheduled for delivery in 2027.
Construction of the R1-billion facility is scheduled to get under way in the third quarter of this year and, once completed, is expected to produce 62 trains a year at full capacity.
Edmond highlights that Aberdare will deliver the cables for the remaining 15 locomotives, which will be manufactured in Brazil before the end of 2015.
He adds that 20 job opportunities have been created with the launch of the company’s latest production line, which will significantly increase job opportunities once Gibela completes its local manufacturing facility.
Munilall explains that Aberdares’ new production line, which employs a 120 mm, 24:1 length-to-diameter ratio extruder, can manufacture up to 140 m of cable a minute, and can produce single-core, cross-linked polyethylene vinyl acetate (XLEVA), halogen-free fire-retardant (HFFR) diesel-resistant cables in sizes ranging from 4 mm2 to 240 mm2.
Edmond points out that Aber-dare began research and development on the XLEVA HFFR cables in 2012, which required significant testing to determine the effectiveness of the material, compared with other materials used in locomotive applications.