Product Expertise: Phenolic Composite Panels-Optimizing Life Cycle Costs

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During a 1997 meeting with U.S. railcar manufacturer Adtranz, Milwaukee Composites’ CEO Jeffrey Kober learned of sub flooring issues which they were experiencing as a part of its Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) program in Philadelphia (USA).

Over the course of the meeting, Kober learned about Adtranz’s weight issues and recurring failure of plymetal floor panels. Kober returned to Milwaukee Composites (MCI) following the meeting and set out to solve SEPTA’s problems.

Kober, having extensive knowledge in materials science, ultimately identified a solution in a phenolic composite panel, which simultaneously addressed SEPTA’s weight concerns, provided superior fire safety, and eliminated the recurring costs caused by the replacement of the plymetal panels. Convincing SEPTA, as well as Consulting Groups, of a “plastic” floor’s capability to survive in rough environments had its challenges but sound engineering and extensive testing proved that MCI’s product was the perfect solution to this problem.

Customer feedback

“The new phenolic composite floor design resulted in a considerable weight savings and additional long­ term benefits,” Mr. Jody Cox, a senior project designer for SEPTA who was assigned to the program. “One of these benefits pertains to the longevity of the panels. With the phenolic composite materials being impervious to water, moisture­ related failures are now non­existent. Also, the material is not affected by fatigue, ensuring that the floor application has the potential to last the life of the vehicle.”

Since then, MCI has been recognized as the leading global supplier of advanced phenolic composite panels by supplying the transit industry with our lightweight, innovative flooring solution. MCI remains focused on improving global mass transit technology by providing products that deliver the lowest total cost of ownership while offering both energy savings and the highest degree of reliability. Safety through innovative design has always been at the heart of MCI’s motivation to improve current mass transit technology. Unlike the competition, MCI collaborates with our customers to deliver unique engineered solutions that exceed all expectations. MCI’s custom, high-performance products do not delaminate, are maintenance-free for the 35-year design life, provide the highest level of fire safety and offer up to a 50% weight savings.

MCI’s technology can be found in well over 14,000 transit cars around the world. Ours panels thrive in diverse climate conditions—from the hot & humid summers in Chennai, India to the cold winters of Calgary, Canada. MCI has worked globally with all the major OEM rail car builders (CRRC, Siemens, Kawasaki, Bombardier, Alstom, Stadler, CAF, Hyundai Rotem, BEML) as well as transit authorities (New York City Transit, London Underground, Chicago Metra, LA Metro, SEPTA). Be it new car builds or costly retrofit programs, MCI’s products are used to replace the materials that are known to fail (plywood, aluminum honeycomb, plymetal, etc).

Some of MCI’s largest customers are Transit Authorities. Since 2007, New York City Transit (NYCT) has used phenolic composite panels for new builds as well as retrofit applications to eliminate all their plymetal flooring problems. During that time, NYCT has realized immense energy savings through weight reduction (almost 350kg per car) while never having to replace a panel. London Underground (LUL) also benefited by replacing the failing aluminum honeycomb panels with MCI’s phenolic composite panels. MCI’s custom designed panels eliminated the delamination and moisture problems that plagued LUL for years.

As far as MCI’s footprint in India, MCI has supplied over 800 coaches to India since 2009 without any failures and is currently under contract to supply an additional 400 coaches. MCI floors are currently used in Delhi Metro, Bangalore Metro, Chennai Metro, Kolkata Metro and Mumbai Metro rolling stock projects. All these organizations understand the concept of Total Cost of Ownership (cost to purchase, install and maintain the product) and the massive savings that MCI’s products offer. With Kober pushing the envelope of technology, MCI continues to be an engineering focused company that challenges itself to be a pioneer in applications for phenolic composite panels. MCI has expanded its portfolio to included heated floors, doors, vertical walls and ceilings. Since 2014, MCI has provided patented radiant heated floors that use a proprietary heating assembly co-cured to the same, industry proven, phenolic composite floor panel that MCI has supplied since 1997.

The benefits of MCI’s industry leading standard composite floor panel (lightweight, moisture resistant, fire safe, and maintenance free) are inherent within MCI’s heated floors. MCI’s heated floor system is custom engineered for each application giving the car builder flexibility in their design. Some examples of customization include connector location, wire routing, heat output, input voltage, and more. All of these can be customized while removing bulky, heavy, and unsafe side-wall heaters and improving passenger comfort and safety.

In addition to floors, MCI was also asked to design a solution to eliminate the delamination and moisture problems traditionally associated with the current metal door constructions. MCI went through rigorous testing since 2013 in the USA as well as in the UK to create a solution that provides weight reduction along with the elimination of corrosion and delamination. MCI successfully passed all the required tests (i.e. fatigue, pressure, fire, thermal, etc) and produced a phenolic composite door solution that is currently running in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles in the USA, as well as in the UK. MCI’s doors provide benefits such as no- maintenance, excellent fatigue (last the design life of the vehicle), weight reduction, improved thermal performance and dimensional stability.

Customer feedback

“We feel our need for weight reduction had led us to a new technology that has not only resulted in weight savings but has also delivered a long­ term application that will reduce future maintenance and increase fire safety, not only for SEPTA but for the rail industry…” Mr. Jody Cox, a senior project designer for SEPTA”

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Article Source: Milwaukee Composites | This Product Expertise is a part of our Latest Magazine: Subscribe to our Magazine Today!

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