Five reasons why hydraulic tools are railway liabilities



Five reasons why hydraulic tools are railway liabilities

In life, when new information is presented and information changes, opinions must change with it. In the railway business, hydraulic tools have long been extremely popular among railway workers because, well, no other technology could match the productivity it provided on the jobsite.

In recent years, more and more information about the harms of hydraulics for the environment – and railway personnel – has come to the fore, and for the first time, there are tools that enable a easier operation and increased productivity – ie battery powered – which took some of the shine from hydraulic tools.

The battery revolution is taking hold of the railways and the reasons for its recent emergence are multiple; namely the elimination of many liabilities created by their hydraulic counterparts.

1. Dangers of hydraulics

There’s a reason hydraulic tools have a million safety warnings; the hydraulics are very toxic and contact with the skin of a railway worker can lead to serious medical complications and illness.

Hydraulic tools also require railway workers to haul those huge, bulky, and sometimes leaky hoses all around their work. It may not seem like much, but over time the physical nature of the job takes its toll on the worker. That’s not even to say that hydraulic maintenance of track tools, including tip pullers, lagers, and tie drills, is heavy on its own. With the advent of battery-powered technology, this could be avoided altogether.

2. Environmental damage

Hydraulic tools have been widely criticized for their negative impact on the environment; just ask the senior executives of Class I railways, including Canadian Pacific, BNSF, and Canadian National.

The future of rail yards in North America is greener and more climate-friendly as rail yards desperately try to reduce their carbon footprint.

This could help marshalling yards deal with the next section of this list.

3. Financial responsibility

33 fluid ounces of hydraulic fluid is enough to pollute 33,814,022.7 fluid ounces of water. Also, if hydraulic fluids get into the ground, the United States requires the EPA to come and perform a special disposal process. Both of these scenarios could cripple a yard’s bottom line.

Even assuming there is no major environmental disaster in a year, a yard will still spend millions of dollars on hydraulic fluid. Advances in battery-powered technology allow job sites to get rid of this hydraulic fluid altogether – and the bills that accompany it.

4. Hydraulic Drain Productivity

Some of the larger hydraulic units require multiple railway workers to operate, making them extremely time-consuming and incredibly inefficient. Smaller, wireless, battery-operated technology allows these two or three railroad workers to work separately, resulting in higher quality jobs being completed in less time.

5. Installation takes forever

Then there is the whole subject of the installation of the hydraulics.

Is there anything worse than getting the call you need to replace a handful of hitches and realizing that means you have to set up all the hydraulic tools just to do a little job?

For a long time, there was only one way to avoid this grim reality for a few projects, like using the claw bar to pull cut points. That, of course, could lead to a whole bunch of other responsibilities and issues.

Battery-powered technology, however, because of its compact size and ease of use, allows railway workers to avoid that dreaded hydraulic setup once and for all.


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