National Railway Equipment Co. is a global leader in the rail, marine, and power industries. Headquartered in the heartland of “The King City,” Mt. Vernon, Illinois, NRE was founded in 1984 and today operates out of 12 North American and 5 international locations with over 1,330,000 square feet of facility floor.
National Railway Equipment Low-Emission Mission
NRE serves class 1, regional, short line, governmental, and industrial railroads around the globe and specializes in manufacturing, remanufacturing, and servicing locomotives. NRE is famous in the railroad industry for its environmentally friendly, low emission, and low noise pollution designs.
Its flagship line, christened the N-ViroMotive, is ultra-low emitting and has a longer service life than any other comparable road and switcher model locomotive. The N-ViroMotive model has passed (with flying colors) a rigorous certification process by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
In addition, NRE maintains its green footprint by being a leader in the remanufacturing market. Its skilled mechanical and electrical engineers regularly increase locomotive life spans by 15 to 20 years, passing huge savings on to customers. A remanufactured locomotive is approximately 60 percent the cost of a brand new locomotive.
Taking Railway Equipment Back to Its Roots
Competing in today’s railroad industry is incredibly difficult. The industry as a whole has been stagnant and sales of new locomotives unimpressive.
To survive, NRE has tapped into innovative new technologies, while staying true to its roots.
“According to Mike Zerafa, assistant vice president of business development at NRE, there are two keys to the company’s ongoing success: strong roots and deep diversity. No matter the market, circumstances can play into an NRE strength. In the current downturn, Zerafa says, railroad companies are looking to keep their current locomotives running with the most minimal downtime.
“That need for experienced service hits right in NRE’s wheelhouse. ‘NRE started off as a service business,’ said Zerafa. ‘Then, over time, it really got focused on new locomotives. With the market today as it is, we’ve gone back to our roots, and we’re doing a lot more service, component rebuilds, parts, and locomotive rehab.'”
Locomotive Technology Meets Length Stop Technology
Manufacturing and remanufacturing a train is no easy feat. It requires sophisticated equipment and processes while remaining environmentally conscious.
Passing on savings and reductions in emissions, noise, fuel consumption, and maintenance costs to its customers is always at the forefront of its thinking. Which is why NRE invested in a piece of manufacturing equipment, TigerStop’s TigerRack, to help pass along savings to its customers in the form of productivity and accuracy.
Since the cost of metal is on the rise, accuracy is vital to the process. The TigerRack length stop, integrated with NRE’s cold saw, ensures that heavy metal stock up to 720 pounds is positioned for cutting with the tightest tolerance possible. It cost-effectively replaces a tape measure or any manual clamping system. Plus, its steel roller tables allow heavy-duty material, such as tube and bar stock, to glide smoothly through the cutting application.
“With the increased productivity and accuracy of each and every part, we get to pass those savings on to our customers. Whatever time and material savings are achieved during our manufacturing process enables me to bid the job at lower cost,” said Scott Beal, National Railway Equipment’s general manager.
More Accuracy, Less Rework
Accuracy has played an integral role in NRE’s lean manufacturing process. It allows for dramatic increases in productivity and eliminating the biggest beast of all: rework. Spending time to trim a part that’s out of spec is one thing—but wasting precious labor hours to take apart an entire train cab is an entirely different species of rework. “We’ve had to cut a whole cab apart and fix it because there were things that just weren’t measured accurately in the first place,” explains Beal.
The TigerRack’s accuracy and repeatability has benefited NRE’s entire manufacturing process. Parts are cut to tight tolerances from the get-go. “We have dramatically reduced our scrap. The accuracy ensures the piece will continue through the entire assembly process, and our operators have gained more satisfaction in their jobs.
“Our operators learned how to use the TigerRack quickly and easily, cutting square and round tubing for our locomotive cabs. I can have a less skilled man actually run the saw, he can stand there, mark the part numbers right off the cut list, feed the material in, and watch it go, and I love it! That’s the kind of thing I like. The TigerRack doesn’t call in sick. It doesn’t complain. It’s a wonderful thing!”
Length Stop Makes Safety Easy
Another benefit of NRE’s TigerRack is safety. “Safety is my number one concern,” says Brent McGowen, safety director for National Railway Equipment. “Our operators would continuously put their hands near the blade while using their tape measure to process their parts. This constant interaction with the blade was my biggest concern and fear.
“However, with the introduction of the TigerRack, the operator is nowhere near the blade; he simply runs the material up against the stop and pushes a button. It’s a much safer, more accurate operation and makes our employees happier. The TigerRack has made our cutting operation about four times faster than it was before doing it manually” says McGowan.
National Railway Equipment continues to chug along thanks to its embrace of manufacturing technology and strong ties to its mission of keeping customers moving forward. With a proven track record in locomotive manufacturing and re-manufacturing over the last 30+ years and strong service and technical support, it’s clear that NRE is in it for the long haul.