Dura Composites Launches a New Solution for the Rail Sector with Strategic Support and Funding from MAS
Dura Composites has used its expertise in composite production to come up with a fibreglass station platform that allows railway stations to remain operational whilst addressing potentially dangerous stepping distances.
“The support we received from MAS to develop the new ‘Dura Platform’ allowed us to bring the project forward by at least three months. This meant we could produce a full prototype of the platform for exhibition at Infrarail 2014 in May, where it received huge interest from UK rail contractors and Network Rail platform experts.” says Stuart Burns of Dura Composites.
Victoria Tsoi, MAS Advisor, confirmed how their support contributed to accelerating the product development. “The company has always been at the forefront of composite technology, but until recently has not maximised its impact in the Rail sector. We sat down with Stuart and his team to look at how they could transfer their composites expertise into this industry and they quickly came up with a solution that could change the way the sector operates forever.”
The Manufacturing Challenge
“Traditionally, our business has been heavily involved in supplying innovative fibreglass flooring and structures such as structural walkways, heavy duty trench covers and marine pontoon decking to name but a few,” explained Stuart.
The company wanted to look at how they could transfer their composites expertise into the rapidly expanding opportunities in Rail. The ‘Dura Platform’, conceived, designed and developed by the company’s Commercial Director Tom Bowman, uses the latest breakthrough technology to offer a host of real benefits to the installer, the user and the station operator. “Once this system is adopted by the first few stations we expect the cost savings and reduction in passenger disruption will mean that we will be manufacturing thousands of platforms every year” continued Stuart.
MAS provided strategic support on the development of the new product and also secured grants to go towards the initial costs of setting up tooling. This brought the project forward by a minimum of three months and allowed the company to start initial manufacture in April and to produce a full prototype of the platform for exhibition at Infrarail 2014 in May, where it received huge interest from UK rail contractors and Network Rail platform experts.
“The innovation does not stop there. Working with Advisor Victoria Tsoi, we are now in the process of bringing a further variant of the ‘Dura Platform’ to fruition,” added Stuart. “The initial model was designed as a platform extension system, which could be massive when you consider the huge rail infrastructure projects currently being discussed in the UK to add more passenger capacity. “The second model, which is already on the drawing board, has been conceived to offer a repair and refurbishment solution for situations where the gap between the platforms and the train step has increased out of gauge due to subsidence.”
Victoria Tsoi has been working with Dura Composites for 12 months and in that short time has already seen a huge amount of progress and applications for two patents.
The ‘Dura Platform’ has already received huge interest from UK rail contractors and Network Rail platform experts. Dura Composites is planning to create up to 20 jobs in the next three years, taking the workforce to 55 people. Longer-term, the firm has a three-year plan to increase turnover from £7m to £17m by 2017.