Unipart builds new Panel Lifter technology in Coventry

Unipart Rail and Unipart Manufacturing Group have successfully built their first McCulloch Rail Panel Lifter at a new production facility in Coventry, bringing cutting-edge rail industry technology to the city.

The new Panel Lifter production line is a unique collaboration bringing together the revolutionary Panel Lifter technology of McCulloch Rail, the automotive industry experience of Unipart Manufacturing Group, and the global customer network of Unipart Rail. It will also create jobs in Coventry.

McCulloch Rail designed and developed the unique Panel Lifter technology, which is revolutionising the method of removing and replacing rail panels. The Panel Lifter system can move up to 18 tonnes at a time and can be used to move panel lengths of up to 90ft in a swift and safe manner, and with greater efficiency in comparison to all other methods.

Based at the Holbrooks site linked to automotive manufacturing for over a century, the new Panel Lifter production facility will benefit from Unipart Manufacturing’s extensive automotive industry expertise in powertrain systems.

The Panel Lifters will meet market demand from McCulloch Rail in the UK and from Unipart Rail’s international customers, who are keen to improve their performance with this cutting-edge technology.

Earlier this year, Unipart Rail won funding from the Department for Transport and Innovate UK to develop a ‘TRT-e’, an electric version of the McCulloch Rail TRT (Trac Rail Transposer), in conjunction with Hyperbat, a joint venture between Unipart Manufacturing and Williams Advanced Engineering to develop electric vehicle battery technology.

The new Panel Lifter production facility is a further extension of Unipart’s relationship with McCulloch Rail and will be located adjacent to the Hyperbat facility at the Coventry site.

Neil Walker, Managing Director, Unipart Rail and Unipart Manufacturing Group said: “The production of the McCulloch Rail Panel Lifters at Unipart Manufacturing’s highly skilled Coventry site is great news for both the city and Unipart. Bringing this under one roof, in partnership with McCulloch, highlights our continued investment in the city and will benefit the rail industry worldwide. Panel Lifters are the safest, fastest and most efficient way of replacing track panels. Through Unipart Rail’s global customer network the Panel Lifters produced in Coventry will be shipped to customers all over the world.”

Carol Burke, Unipart Manufacturing Group Managing Director said: “This partnership diversifies the manufacturing portfolio at our Coventry site, where we are already leading electric vehicle battery technology through Hyperbat, our joint venture with Williams Advanced Engineering. Our team will apply their significant expertise in the automotive industry to manufacture McCulloch Rail Panel Lifters using lean and just-in-time techniques, and will pass on their knowledge through the creation of new apprenticeship roles for this production.”

Billy McCulloch, Engineering Director, McCulloch Rail said: “As we scale up our international sales activity, it is critical that the production capacity is matched to meet the market demand. Successfully partnering with Unipart Group was fundamental to our mutual goals – where we can each focus on our core competencies and exploit our respective resources and experience to achieve this. Undoubtedly, this will be the first of many systems built by Unipart Group as we continue to succeed together on the global stage.”

About Unipart Rail
Unipart Rail is the leading specialist provider of technology and supply chain solutions to the rail industry. With a growing international presence and extensive expertise in infrastructure, signalling and traction and rolling stock products, Unipart Rail is a major partner to the rail industry.

Unipart Rail is part of the multinational Unipart Group, with headquarters in the United Kingdom and operations in more than 100 countries.

Unipart Rail companies also include:

  • Unipart Dorman – LED signalling and indication innovators and manufacturers
  • Park Signalling – signalling design and consultancy specialists
  • Instrumentel – remote condition monitoring specialists for high performance engines and rail applications
  • Key Fasteners – vending and software solutions to supply and track fasteners from the manufacturer to the train
  • Samuel James Engineering – suppliers of LV switchgear and control gear systems for the Rail Industry
  • Westcode – a UK and US company with an extensive range of air supply equipment.
  • Comms design – Comms Design is a high-tech design and manufacturing organisation specialising in electronic products for the rail industry.

McCulloch Rail
Founded in 1992, McCulloch Rail has established itself as a leading player in the UK rail industry designing, developing and operating unique rail and railway component handling equipment with a commitment for continuous improvement and innovation being at the forefront of the company’s strategy.

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