Neil Cross, National Sales Manager at Anderton Concrete, discusses the upcoming trends and key market drivers facing the rail industry throughout 2022
Over the last 12 months, Anderton Concrete has seen a significant increase in demand for precast concrete solutions, including its Network Rail approved troughing and bespoke precast. While increasing on-site safety and efficiencies has been a key driver for bespoke specification throughout 2021, this uptake has also been fuelled by the continued ambition to decarbonise the UK’s rail network, a factor that will continue to be a main influence throughout 2022.
Developing lower carbon products lies at the centre of achieving the government’s Net Zero targets, with the demand and need for environmentally efficient rail technologies involving every aspect of the industry, from stations and platforms, right through to lineside equipment and the phasing out of diesel-powered trains.
Moving towards a Net Zero rail industry will continue to be a high priority for the sector throughout this year, with efforts to reduce carbon emissions being rapidly accelerated through continued product innovation and processes.
However, while manufacturing products with lower embodied carbon, without compromising on quality, cost and efficiency is a priority, there are additional factors pushing the continued requirement for product evolution. By partnering with manufacturers to collaborate on the design, installation, and maintenance of a new generation of rail products that place quality and performance at their core, rail professionals can meet the most demanding site specifications, while simultaneously setting a new standard throughout the industry.
For example, whilst precast concrete rail solutions may be perceived as being potentially carbon heavy due to their production processes, Anderton Concrete is proactively working with industry partners to develop products that feature significantly reduced carbon and have a lower overall weight than similarly competing technologies.
When this is combined with the low lifetime cost, non-combustible properties and impressive resilience that precast concrete is known for, whilst also omitting the need for casting on site, the material provides the rail industry with one of the most successful and sustainable methods of construction currently available.
By utilising sustainability-led innovations, Anderton Concrete has recently reduced the embodied carbon in its Platform Copings by a substantial 40%, after being approached by an industry leading partner to investigate methods of improving the environmental efficiency of its products. Following the success of this project, the company is working to apply similar design and construction principles across its rail product portfolio throughout 2022, to support the creation of a greater proportion of low carbon products entering the marketplace.
With sustainability and product innovation being key considerations for the forthcoming year, attention is also turned towards supply chain efficiencies. As a UK manufacturer, Anderton Concrete is able to develop high quality, low carbon standard and bespoke products to the industry in the shortest possible lead times.
Following continued investment at its Thornley manufacturing facility, the installation of a new crane system has facilitated the creation of bespoke units up to 10 tonnes, double that of its previous capabilities. In addition, the entire manufacturing process has been reconsidered, including a new factory layout that further increases efficiency of production, especially on repeat products.
This has helped increase the company’s ability to develop bespoke manufacturing orders for high profile rail developments including re-signalling projects. By adopting an individual approach to each project, Anderton’s manufacturing process can be streamlined to suit specific orders and demand, therefore creating less waste, whilst utilising fewer materials.
With sustainability set to be high on the industry agenda throughout 2022, and alongside a backdrop of recovery from material, supply chain and product availability issues experienced throughout 2021, now is the time for rail providers to achieve the highest standards of efficiency and sustainability.
Photo credit: Anderton Concrete