When lightning strikes! RCS Australia’s quick response

The second HIMA site RCSA designed and commissioned is on an industrial siding servicing two separate Boral mine sites in the Medway Valley near Goulburn in NSW. After eight years of continuous service, we received an urgent call from Boral’s Acting – Rail Infrastructure Manager – Cameron Atkinson, Tuesday advising that the unit had failed and that there was a risk of severe track damage if heavily loaded trains had to stop and manually operate the two sets of points for each movement – both loops operate via steep inclines in the loaded direction.

Daniel Grivicic worked with the on-site maintenance team to diagnose the issues and identified that a lightning strike(s) appeared to have entered the location hut via a point detection circuit, fused the lightning arrestor and likely damaged the HIMA HIMatrix F31 unit in the hut. Dan was quickly able to agree on an action plan with Boral, which included replacing HIMatrix unit and replacement lighting arrestors and shipping the necessary tools to site for repair replacement. Complicating matters was that neither the HIMatrix F31 nor the lighting arrestors were still in production or local inventory. Dan was able to identify a range of replacement arrestors and have them shipped as well as to provide a replacement F30 HIMatrix unit (from RCSA stock) and safely alter the original application data for the new control hardware.

Having arranged shipping for all damaged hardware in less than 24 hours,   the next challenge was to assist Boral in replacing these devices – especially given COVID travel restrictions. With Inland Rail works underway and major commissioning in safe hands, Richard Ogilvie was (again) able to fly from Parkes to Marulan (a farmers airstrip adjacent to the Hume Highway and only 5 minutes from site), confirm the diagnosis of lighting damage, replace the units and recommission the system based on updated data and fly back to Parkes all in the course of a Saturday morning.

By using our expertise, available spares and can-do approach, RCSA was able to solve a potentially significant problem for a customer from many years ago, limiting system downtime to just four days from a ‘cold call’ out of the blue to a full return to service.