Operations & Maintenance, Plant, Machinery & Equipment, Track & Civil Construction

The staying power of Speno


When it comes to rail grinding in Australia, one company stands high and proud above all others: Speno Rail Maintenance Australia (SRMA). 

The Australian business began in 1969 when the first grinding train commenced operation in the Pilbara region of WA. SRMA is now well and truly ensconced as part of Australia’s manufacturing landscape, with Australian-designed, manufactured and locally supported equipment and personnel. 

Today, with more than 50 years in the industry, SRMA continues to grow, expand, evolve, and improve, leading the way in rail maintenance diagnostics and rectification. Originally providing only rail grinding services, SRMA has advanced to also providing ultrasonic rail flaw testing and track measurement systems.  

SRMA works closely with customers to develop the best strategies to suit individual rail needs to prolong rail life and quality. The company has rail grinding and ultrasonic testing contracts with an impressive range of mining, resource, and rail infrastructure organisations, such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Roy Hill, PTA, Arc Infrastructure, METRONET, Sydney Trains, ARTC, GWA, KiwiRail and Aveng Rail, with a significant presence throughout Australia and New Zealand.  

Rail Express speaks to SRMA Managing Director Mark Green about the formula for SRMA’s success and longevity. 

And the secret, unsurprisingly, is the company’s unparalleled wealth of local experience and capabilities.  

“We’ve been in Australia for 50 years, working with major clients all around Australia and New Zealand,” Green said.  

“We have built strong partnerships with every one of our clients where we’ve extensively embedded ourselves into each one of their operations, providing that unique partnership experience.  

“We’ve been here for half a century and we’re here to stay. We’ve got strong growth prospects for the future, and are investing significantly in technology and innovation, our people and the partnerships with our clients.  

“We utilise extensive technical experience to continue to lead innovation and development in the industry. We have world-class, award-winning machinery, state-of-the-art technology and the operational and technical knowledge, skills, experience and leadership to take our industry to new heights. 

Green believes it’s this very advancement in rail grinding processes in terms of quality, precision, measurement, and repeatability that has defined SRMA’s longevity in the industry.  

“We are a premium service provider that provides a bespoke and unique rail grinding service to our clients,” he said.  

The power of partnerships 

Green reiterated the forging of strong working partnerships with clients as a reason for SRMA’s endurance. 

At Speno we strive to ensure that there is a close working relationship between ourselves and our clients, as mutual respect and trust is very important to us, because this ultimately, along with delivering the best solutions, strategies, and outcomes, is imperative to a successful relationship and consistency in delivering the absolute best as our clients’ needs evolve,” he said. 

“We embed ourselves in our clients’ operation. Specifically, no two operations are the same and therefore they need  an individually customised service. Each client has a very different set of requirements and therefore requires a unique service solution. 

“It depends on the service: the majority of our clients opt for their own machine solely allocated to their contract and network, and that machine is then permanently operated with an experienced Speno team for the duration of the contract. We are grounded in consistency and reliability, and this extends to our highly skilled teams who operate our machines. 

“From delivery of a service to the highest quality and standards, everything is bespoke to the client’s needs and we tailor our products and service to what is required and what is suitable.” 

This extends to Speno’s onboard electronic measurement, which allows the rail grinder to accurately measure current condition of the rail and provide evidence of restoring the correct rail profile with the highest level of quality. 

“By using electronic onboard measuring and vision systems, our highly skilled and experienced operators and our rail network experts are able to measure the profile, assess the condition of the rail, and provide evidence or advice on what changes are needed to potentially eliminate and/or reduce the premature wear of the network,” Green said. 

“By reviewing and understanding the standards and having the machines to best to achieve it, we can improve the rail profile dramatically and reduce the premature wear on wheels and the rail network, and increase their life span, longevity of an asset equals sustainability and overall cost reduction in the long run. It’s the same principle with anything, if you look after it well, it will do a better job and last longer.” 

SRMA’s impressive Ultrasonic Flaw Testing (UT) systems can also be fully customised, enhancing the company’s role in railway flaw detection. 

The combination of data with local knowledge and expertise, and the ability to carry out grinding with absolute precision to any desired specification, means that SRMA is providing the client with world-class individualised solutions. 

Customers also value the business for its ability to consistently meet deadlines. 

“By focusing on quality and by being on time and meeting expectations, the clients are getting greater return on investment,” Green said.  

Research, development and the workforce 

The rail grinding equipment that Speno supplies to Australia and New Zealand has been designed and manufactured in Australia, with the WA headquarters as the hub. 

Throughout Australia, Speno has a network of more than 150 suppliers who are not just involved in the fabrication of the machines, but the supply of parts and materials that are used in the process of grinding while on the job. 

“All research and development for the Australian market is typically performed out of the head office in WA. We can say that we know the market well because we know the demands, we’ve seen and lived it and can provide accurate recommendations and support to our clients. 

“This philosophy has meant that Speno is building and designing Australian equipment for Australian conditions and our work is leading the world.” 

Here’s to the next 50 

Australia has one of the widest range of railways of any single country around the globe, from the heavy haul railways which carry some of the highest axle loadings in the world, to densely packed urban light rail lines.  

“Each network has its own distinct conditions which are reflected in the standards that are applied by network operators and managers,” Green said. 

“SRMA has been helping rail infrastructure managers in Australia and New Zealand meet their own unique rail profile standards for the past half a century, and plan to do so for the next 50 years and beyond.” 

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