All Systems Go

“This,” says Hector, “heralds the dawn of a new era in South Africa’s railway manufacturing capability, as these major components have never been produced in the country previously.

“This major step positions Gibela as a unique and integrated rolling stock manufacturer, and strengthens the company’s rail product manufacturing capability and footprint. It bodes well not only for the company but also for the country, as it demonstrates a giant stride towards localisation, which includes producing local content, job creation and the transfer of technology and skills.”

The localised production of traction motors will contribute 30% towards Gibela’s local content key performance indicator by May 2021 and by 2025, this figure will rise to 65%.

According to Guenther Bargon, the manufacturing director for the Motors Unit, the production of the prototype motor will start in April. It will then be sent to Ornans in France, where it will be evaluated to ensure that it meets all the necessary technical performance specifications and criteria. Once these specifications are met, the green light will be given for the start of production, likely by August.

At peak production, envisaged for March 2021, it is expected that 84 motors will be produced per month.

The recruitment of approximately 92 new employees who will form part of the new unit has already started.

What do traction motors do?

The function of traction motors in a train is to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, which in turn creates a rotating force on the shaft driving the gearbox in the middle of the eight bogies of the train. The rotating magnetic field created by the electric current in the coil windings is regulated by an upstream traction converter to control the speed of the motor shaft