With a history of nearly 60 years serving the rail industry, Beakbane continues to develop new technology for the international rail industry.

The latest innovation from the Kidderminster-based specialist in bellows and bespoke protection systems is lightweight composite guards that have a wide range of applications on traction units and rolling stock.

Composite stone guard used to protect the underside of high-speed trains

Beakbane can draw upon its expertise and experience across a wide range of technologies and materials to develop protection systems for specific requirements. This know-how is supported by comprehensive in-house design, development and manufacturing capabilities. The result is that Beakbane can either recommend a standard product or develop a bespoke solution for almost any rail application.

As well as composite guards, these include, for example, moulded and sewnbellows, flexible connectors, metal fabrications, telescopic metal covers, cable/hose carriers and industrial roller blinds.

Materials include polymers and elastomers, steel, engineering fabrics and composite structures. Many of these materials have been developed by Beakbane for specific types of application. It can also combine elements from various technologies – producing flexible bellows with metal end flanges, for example, or moulding metal fabrications and inserts into composite components.

Beakbane has also developed its own in-house testing facility to prove concepts and demonstrate life-cycle performance.

Typical applications for Beakbane systems include protecting sensitive equipment in hostile environments, preventing impact damage, proofing against water, dust or contaminants, connecting hoses and feeds and protecting operators and the public from dangerous equipment.

Specific applications include stone guards, operator cab protection, streamlining and fairings, protection for bogey-mounted signalling equipment, removable maintenance covers, air intake and traction motor bellows and HVAC connectors.

Customers include Bombardier, Alstom and Cummins.

The latest lightweight composite guards, which are already in the process of being applied on a major high-speed network, combine impact protection to NF F 07-101 with structural integrity and load bearing capabilities. The material is fire-resistant to European standards including BS476 Pt 7 Class 1, BS6853, NFF 16 101 and DIN 5510 2.  Additional testing is planned to confirm compliance with other relevant standards.

Panels are much lighter than a fabricated metal alternative.  So protection can be provided where it is needed on traction units and rolling stock without incurring a significant weight penalty.

They can be moulded around a structural lightweight honeycomb core and can have fabricated metal reinforcement, mounting brackets and threaded attachment points moulded in during manufacture.

With its in-house design and manufacturing capabilities, Beakbane can provide a complete service from concept to complete protective panel from one point of contact.

Tooling for the composite mouldings is relatively inexpensive and is also designed in-house by Beakbane. This means that the panels are also an attractive option for low-volume retrofit and maintenance applications.