voestalpine VAE SA (Pty) Ltd - HYTRONICS

By: voestalpine VAE  11-11-2011
Keywords: Axle, Axle Bearings

The VAE HYTRONICS range aptly demonstrates VAE innovation. HYTRONICS, (originating from the words hydraulic and electronic) involves pre-mounted switching systems that can be built into track and provide fast and economic installations, rapid availability and excellent distance control abilities.


In the year 2002 all activities were merged to a new business unit called HYTRONICS. Then, the first industrial manufacturing of HYTRONICS products started as well. In 2004 automised production was realised. First steps were made in 1988 as VAEE realised that new challenges for railroads would come up and, therefore, totally new and innovative solutions would be necessary.

For development works, VAEE uses traditional know-how of more than 150 years as turnout manufacturer. In this development process VAEE was able to overcome different barriers and, nowadays, VAEE provided innovative solutions and products that opened new opportunities.

All HYTRONICS products have successfully found their way into railway networks all over the world.

Since 2004 the companies CONTEC and SST strengthen the HYTRONICS business unit.

Therefore, we are able to offer highly developed, intelligent turnout, diagnostic and hazard notification systems.

Principal goals
• To maximise inspection intervals with a cycle of > 6 months
• To maximise availability by using diagnostic systems
• To use synergies between components
• Relations to our customers are based on a good partnership


• Increase inspection and maintenance intervals by the use of nearly maintenance free components for turnouts as well as for track sections

• In the short term to 6 months - in the medium term to 12 months

• Focus: -> efficiency, availability – low Life Cycle Costs

• Utilization if diagnostic and hazard notification systems for different objectives for all application needs

Hot Box Detector in test


Major damage caused by hot boxes and defective brakes are a headache for any rail operator. The VAE HOT BOX AND BRAKE DETECTION SYSTEM automatically checks the condition of axle bearings on running trains as well as blocked brakes on stationary trains. This system is installed on rails or in a hollow steel sleeper and is designed in such a way that it collects temperatures of different types of axle bearings, such as roller bearings, slide bearings and wheel sets. The VAE HOA/FOA is a contactless, stationery thermometer for axle bearings and wheel sets of rail wheels passing the measuring spot at up to 400 km/h. A purpose-designed scanning feature scans axle bearings in the same direction, as the train is moving. Hottest spots are securely recorded and the absolute temperature of the axle bearing is measured. The FOA can be installed as a stand-alone system that measures wheel set temperatures up to 650°, locating blocked shoe brakes.


VAE has an exclusive distribution agreement in South Africa with Frauscher GmbH of Austria.

The rationalisation of railway traffic and improvement of transport services require modern technology in many areas of railway operations. Regarding train protection this leads to automatic clear track signalling systems, which decisively improve safety - the prerequisite to increase efficiency.

For years the market for axle counter systems has had above-average growth. This growth is due to the fact that railway operators, who, formerly, exclusively applied track circuits because of their additional capabilities for signal transmission to vehicles and rail breakage detection, are now opting increasingly for the axle counter system.

It has been acknowledged that reliability and economic efficiency of modern axle counter systems do compensate these missing extra functions and actually offer significant saving potentials, especially regarding maintenance costs.


As a manufacturer of components and specialist in inductive sensor technology Frauscher GmbH has been delivering axle counting system of type AZF (Achszählsystem Fauscher) since 1994, which are being used, sometimes in large numbers, by many railway operators.

Based on the experienced gained and on wheel sensor RSR122, approved in the year 2000 by the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) in Germany, the new axle counting system ACS2000 was developed specifically for application at German Railway (DB AG). Compared with the proven predecessor system AZF, additional functions, such as fail-safe data transmission between two axle counting boards have been integrated, thereby increasing yet again its economic efficiency. Since April 2002 Frauscher have been able to offer a reliable axle counting system that is easy to operate and can be used universally and vendor-free for clear track signalling tasks at DB AG and other railway operators.


The turnout monitoring system, VAE ROADMASTER 2000, continually monitors the actual operating condition of the connected turnouts and components.

As the turnout condition is permanently monitored and an assessment of nominal and actual values is made via the integrated expert system, a condition-oriented maintenance can be carried out and life-cycle costs of the monitored turnouts and components can be considerably reduced.

The turnout monitoring system, VAE ROADMASTER 2000, is a non-interacting, expandable modular system which contains all advantages of an independent system analysis (different permanent way and signaling systems, like turnouts, axle counters, track release equipment, signals) thanks to most advanced technology.

The system recognizes failures and immediately transmits them to the higher-order central station for further action by the operator.

Remote access to data for assistance and failure detection, supported by internet, intranet or by analogue or digital network connections, make the function ability of the system complete.


VAE Austria has developed a completely new, fully sealed locking system, called the SPHEROLOCK® which is mostly made of turned parts and is self-contained like a hydraulic system. Therefore, the locking system can no longer become dirty and the initially applied lubrication of the lock components be removed by climatic influences. Due to a special link to the switch, the system is virtually independent of switch and stock rail movements. A number of fastenings can be employed in accordance with customer requirements.

The material selection, corrosion protection and high standard of workmanship in combination with purpose-designed modular technology are the prerequisites for a practical locking device.

VAE in South Africa has combined the SPHEROLOCK® with a locally developed hydraulic drive and detection system and applied it to a 1:20 turnout with 3 operating points. The hydraulic system features both a mechanical- and hydraulic retention device at each of the 3 hydraulic cylinders for safety purposes. Both these devices have been developed to be trailable in emergency situations to minimise damage to the other costly components.

Keywords: Axle, Axle Bearings

Other products and services from voestalpine VAE


voestalpine VAE SA (Pty) Ltd - flexible switchdev

The length of the forging can be adjusted to the specific connecting system such as welding, insulated fishplating or emergency fishplating. In order to reduce the setting forces and to influence the elastic line of the switch, it is possible to mill the base in the flexible area.


voestalpine VAE SA (Pty) Ltd - products

Commercial supplies are the small turnout components that are outsourced and locally manufactured for VAE under contract and used as components in sub-assemblies or supplied to the client for maintenance requirements. A standard range of turnouts are manufactured for the South African market and any other special turnouts can be manufactured according to the clients requirements.