BENGALURU: The principal supplier of wheels, axles and wheel sets for the Indian Railways, Rail Wheel Factory (RWF), has temporarily shut its wheel shop to effect a major eco-friendly initiative. The nearly five-month closure is the first for the RWF since its inception 37 years ago.
The furnace in the wheel shop which has been used for heat treatment of wheels is a very old one and is now being replaced by one which uses natural gas.
A senior RWF official told The New Indian Express, "The normalising furnace, which used high speed diesel is now being replaced with a piped natural gas furnace."
The closure was effected on February 5 and is likely to last until the end of June. "The cost of the replacement is Rs 20 crore. We are trying to finish it earlier. The prime furnace duct of the electric arc furnace was also being closed," he said. Though the shop closes for 20 days annually to undertake maintenance works, it is the first time production has been stopped for months at a stretch since it was opened in 1984.
Rajiv Kumar Vyas, GM, RWF stressed, "More than the cost reduction for us, PNG is highly environment friendly. That is the bigger gain for all of us. With implementation of this project, RWF would be saving more than Rs 1 crore per month or Rs 2500 per (BOXN) wheel set."
RWF manufactures an average of 670 wheels and 250 axles per day. It also manufactures 250 wheel sets (two wheels bridged together with an axle) daily.
Apart from supplying across the country for Indian Railways, it also supplies public sector units like CONCOR and Braithwaite and private concerns like Jindal, Titagarh, HEI, Texmaco and Jupiter among others.
Asked about the impact on revenue and production due to the mega closure, the official said that in preparation for it, wheels were readied in bulk. "We were already in a state of full preparedness and hence we are fulfilling all the orders made. There has been only a minimal impact on our productivity," he said.