Duos Technologies, Inc. (Duos) receives a $1.9 million contract add-on for Amtrak. Also, Leclanché SA (Leclanché) successfully passes a major thermal-safety validation test for its rail industry INT-53 Energy battery pack; and American Track Services (ATS) acquires Universal Rail Systems (URS) and establishes North American Rail Solutions.
Duos announced April 18 that it has been awarded a $1.9 million contract for the enhancement of a planned Railcar Inspection Portal (rip®) system for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) line through the New Jersey Meadowlands between Newark, N.J., and New York City.
This latest addition, Duos says is designed to capture high-speed images of equipment moving at speeds up to 125 mph, “marking another milestone in the company’s commitment to providing advanced rail safety inspection solutions for customers.”
As federal and state authorities increase their focus on preventative measures for rail operators, Duos says it “continues to be committed to providing advanced solutions that can identify mechanical defects and allow for sufficient time to address them before a potentially serious problem arises.” A key feature of these enhancements includes an advanced wheel tread and brake system that captures 360 degrees of the wheel tread in addition to the brake pad. By leveraging the power of machine vision and artificial intelligence (AI), the add-on “significantly improves the system’s capabilities to capture and display images, providing critical defect detection and analysis for rail operators,” Duos added.
“As we continue to build on our offerings, we are seeing increased interest and adoption from current customers who are wanting to upgrade their safety and compliance protocols,” said Duos CEO Chuck Ferry. “In this particular case, the upgrades are a major enhancement to the overall performance of the vision-based systems and lighting conditions.”
Previously, Duos announced March 14 that the company will “continue to explore add-on opportunities to ensure that its deployed systems remain up to date with the latest iterations of hardware and software.”
Switzerland-based energy storage solution provider Leclanché announced April 18 that it has successfully passed a critical thermal-safety validation test for its INT-53 Energy battery pack, which is currently used by rail manufacturers in North America and Europe for railway traction applications, both in passenger and freight trains, and in fully electrified or hybrid configurations, according to Market Screener.
According to Market Screener, the fire-safety test, which was conducted by LEFAE, a subsidiary of the France-based Emitech Group, consisted of intentionally overheating a Leclanché rail battery pack to the point of thermal runaway or failure.
According to Market Screener, the Leclanché INT-53 battery pack “fully complied with the standard’s requirements of no flames, or battery components projected from the pack during the one-hour test and a longer observation period of 12-hours.” In fact, the company says, the Leclanché battery contained the fire in a group of three modules without the fire propagating to the entire pack and eventually extinguishing itself. All standards were fulfilled in compliance with international regulation IEC 62619:2022 related to thermal propagation.
The test conditions, Leclanché says, simulated the worst-case scenario; it was carried out without the company’s liquid-cooling system active. However, the successful outcome, the company adds, “illustrated the strength of Leclanché’s safety concept consisting of packs built with many barriers and redundancies to avoid any kind of thermal incident.”
“Over the last four years, Leclanché has invested heavily in R&D, as well as advanced design and production methods to ensure we are producing batteries that are amongst the safest in the world,” said Leclanché Application Engineering Manager Michael Ukabam. “This successful test validates our efforts and should reassure our rail industry partners that designing their next generation rolling stock with Leclanché’s INT-53 Energy packs means they are getting batteries with industry-proven safety levels.”
“From a safety perspective, our railway battery design goes much further than any singular industry standard,” added Ukabam. “Our systems are designed for safety in a layered approach starting from cells containing ceramic separators, through the modules, subpacks and pack which led to the excellent results obtained during the IEC 62619 tests. Some might consider this ‘overdesign;’ we think of it as safety being our highest priority.”
Previously, Leclanché earned its International Railway Industry Standard (IRIS) Group certification (ISO/TS 22163) and is EcoVadis certified for sustainability.
ATS, a provider of inspection, maintenance, repair and specialized construction services for railroad infrastructure in the U.S., announced April 17 that is has acquired Canadian-based URS to create the new parent company, North American Rail Solutions.
With the establishment of North American Rail Solutions, ATS says the two existing brands will operate under a consolidated umbrella, with ATS serving customers in the U.S. and URS serving customers in Canada.
ATS and URS will “remain focused on quality service while continuing to increase their geographic reach and combining their capabilities to deliver an industry-leading suite of solutions and services in both countries,” the companies said. The North American Rail Solutions brands partner with organizations of all sizes and across all industries to help them build and strengthen their rail transportation infrastructure to support operational growth.
Following this transaction, current ATS CEO Thomas Lucario will serve as CEO for North American Rail Solutions, ATS and URS. Ken Reger will serve as CFO. Tim McMillan will serve as President and COO of URS, lead operations in Canada, and will join the Board of Directors of North American Rail Solutions.
“The creation of North American Rail Solutions along with the consolidation of American Track Services and Universal Rail Systems will create increased capabilities that are unmatched in the industry,” said Lucario. “As a team of proactive experts with unparalleled industry experience, we are able to deliver the largest and most trusted rail services platform in North America. With this acquisition, we can now leverage our combined size and suite of services to support our partners and customers whenever and wherever they need us. The URS team has consistently provided excellent service and have proven themselves as the industry leader in Canada. ATS and URS share a common culture centered on customer service, quality, and responsiveness both internally and externally. We are proud to welcome Tim McMillan and the entire URS team into the North American Rail Solutions and American Track Services family.”
“We are excited to partner with the ATS team to create the newly formed North American Rail Solutions,” added McMillan. “Our combined experience, resources, and scale will enable us to provide our customers with the highest level of service throughout North America. We very much look forward to this next chapter of growth in our business.”
In 2021, DFW Capital Partners acquired ATS and has assisted with an “aggressive strategy to grow the organization organically and through acquisition,” the company says. Operating from 12 full-service offices in strategically located U.S. markets, ATS provides “mission-critical services to its customers that ensure the safety, compliance, operability, and flexibility of onsite railway assets.” ATS serves a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, petrochemical, mining, agricultural products, food and beverage, basic raw materials, ports, transload facilities, and short-line railroads.
“Less than 18 months after our original investment in ATS, we have become the leading North American provider of rail inspection, maintenance, repair, and niche construction services to industrial customers,” said DFW Capital Partners Managing Partner Keith Pennell. “With the addition of URS, we will not only broaden our footprint into Canada, but build upon established relationships and proven capabilities in the Class I and transit segments—all while partnering with a first-class team of industry veterans. We are excited to welcome the entire URS organization under the new North American Rail Solutions umbrella.”
ATS acquired URS from an investor group led by TorQuest Partners (TorQuest). TorQuest’s Mike Salisbury stated: “We are proud of the partnership we have built with the URS management team over the years and wish them continued success in this new chapter with North American Rail Solutions.”
URS was represented in the process by Northborne Partners and Lazard. Affiliates of DFW Capital Partners made an additional equity investment in the company, coupled with support from ATS’ existing lender, PineBridge Investments. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.