The latest news from the Unipart Rail Group of Companies

Targeting the reduction of £300m of cost

Targeting the reduction of £300m of cost

Using SmartSander to reduce costs and improve wheel adhesion

Tags: Better Reliability Condition Based Monitoring Engineering Technology Improved Performance Value - Innovation Park Signalling Reduced Cost Traction and Rolling Stock Unipart Dorman

Low adhesion is reported to cost over £300m per year in the UK and recent industry (RSSB) trials have demonstrated that in low adhesion conditions variable rate sanders can provide dramatic reductions in stopping distance over single rate systems.

At Unipart Rail we have developed the Mk3 SmartSander - a variable rate sanding system capable of delivering the optimum quantity of sand to the rail based on speed, braking, wheel slip and traction demands to dramatically improve traction and stopping distances. It also uses a non-latching isolation switch for the driver to isolate the variable rate sander.

The latest version will deliver up to 4kg per minute to each rail to provide greater adhesion at higher speeds in line with the latest studies and trials results. The MK3 version has added condition based monitoring service to assist in functionality, maintenance and data gathering.

Now with CBM functionality

Through working with Unipart Rail company, Instrumentel, we have introduced Condition Based Monitoring sensors to enable real-time monitoring. This includes:

  • Level of sand in the sand box
  • Air pressure level
  • Electro-pneumatic valve correct operation - valves open and shut when required
  • Quantity of sand delivered with time and GPS position.
  • System inputs, e.g. brake demand, driver demand etc.       

This means that the system can be constantly monitored, replenished and calibrated to keep the system working to the fullest capacity

Stand-out competitive advantage

The SmartSander system is designed to be robust and reliable.  Sand delivery quantities are metered using reliable electro-pneumatic valves which supply the correct quantity of air to the sand valves. This allows electrical systems to be mounted further from the harsh environment near the track and wheel sets.

And with 900 units in active service, the SmartSander is already working to reduce that £300m cost. For more information, contact




About this author
Dave Tilmouth

Head of Marketing Communications

I'm Head of Marketing Communications for Unipart Rail, so I get to be involved in lots of exciting stuff across Traction & Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and road traffic. My colleagues know me as someone who has a perspective on everything, as well as being a bit of an extrovert!


Leave a Comment

Name (required):

Email (Will not be published) (required):

Your thoughts: (Characters remaining: ) )

SPAM Protection: Sum of 11 + 9 ?

Read the Ts & Cs? Tick to confirm you agree to abide by our house rules

Enter text shown in this image into the box below.

Search Our Blogs

Recent Tweets

Commenting Guidelines
By commenting on this blog you agree to abide by our Terms and Conditions. Although we will do our utmost to avoid it, we reserve the right to edit, move or delete any comments which do not follow the guidelines provided