Accudraft’s recently completed rail finishing systems project in California consists of two fully operational standalone outdoor finishing facilities for train and railcar manufacturer, Kinkisharyo International LLC. Over the 1.5 year project, Accudraft designed, engineered, manufactured, constructed, and commissioned the two outdoor finishing facilities via direct contract with Kinkisharyo International.
World renowned train/rail car manufacturer, Kinkisharyo Corporation of Osaka, Japan has a nearly 100-year history of producing top quality rail cars ranging from streetcars to the famed Shinkansen bullet trains. In the U.S., Kinkisharyo International has established an unparalleled reputation for quality and on-time delivery and has produced hundreds of light rail vehicles for communities throughout the United States, including Boston, Jersey City, Santa Clara, Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle. The company is headquartered in El Segundo, California.
Kinkisharyo manufactures light rail-cars for transit systems all over the US including the Dallas DART line that serves the greater Dallas metro area in Dallas, Texas.
Around 2010, the city of Los Angeles was embarking on a new initiative to increase public transportation and build more rail lines to new areas in southern California that would be part of the existing METRO light rail system in L.A.
A map of the new Los Angeles METRO Rail system.
New cars were to be made to replace some existing METRO rail cars and new fleets for new rail lines such as the Los Angeles METRO Expo line that connects Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles and the six new stations added to the Gold Line, annexing the San Gabriel Valley to the route. The addition spans from Pasadena to Azusa, adding 11 new miles to the existing Gold line.
The new Los Angeles METRO Gold light rail line extension would include 11 new miles of service with service to Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley.
The city of Los Angeles developed a particular specification for the new rail cars and was to impose rigorous quality control standards for safety and quality of the rail car itself. Each railcar would have to be built to their specification and would be finished according to their design. Passenger safety standards were to be very specific and many redundant safety systems were to be built-in to ensure multiple levels of fail safes.
Passenger safety standards are top priority when building the new METRO light rail car.
Another major concern was that of finish quality and durability which had been a problem on other mass transit vehicles made for the city of L.A. in the past. These new METRO rail line rail cars would be subject to harsh conditions as they operate outdoors for life. Finishes would be subject to weather, wind, and the near constant daily sun typical to Southern California.
The METRO light rail operates outdoors and finish quality and integrity of the coating was critical.
Kinkisharyo International was awarded the contract to produce hundreds of light rail cars for the city of Los Angeles in California. The team was charged with delivering these rail cars to the city of Los Angeles in a specified window of time so that the new METRO expo and gold rail lines would meet their deadline for full operation with all new rail cars commissioned.
Kinkisharyo’s engineers and project teams got started immediately in building a brand new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility right in California. Time was of the essence. This new facility would allow Kinkisharyo to not only fulfill the contract at hand, but also have manufacturing in the US for future projects (some that are already underway). Kinkisharyo interviewed several companies to design a complete finishing solution that would allow them to take a railcar from start to finish in the time frame they needed with all of the interwoven finishing processes included.
Accudraft spent weeks on preliminary consulting with Kinkisharyo developing projections of project timeline, costs, and project logistics since both companies would be working side by side on an active construction site with many operations underway at the same time. After initial consulting, site visits, and company evaluations performed by Kinkisharyo, Accudraft was awarded the finishing systems contract based on design and the capability and expertise of the team that would see the project through. Engineering staff members and project leaders had developed a solution that both maximized the capability of the facility and matched the speed of throughput that Kinkisharyo needed to fulfill their contract with the city of Los Angeles.
The 704 Yard filled with tarped rail car shells ready to be finished.
The initial designs of the project took several different shapes over a matter of months and new information changed the picture for Kinkisharyo and produced new challenges for Accudraft’s engineering team. Our consultants and engineers worked with Kinkisharyo and reacted to their new challenges quickly so as not to affect the timeline. Accudraft collaborated with Kinkisharyo engineers until the design optimized their operational capabilities, maximized speed, and ensured the quality of finish required by the city of Los Angeles.
The New Facility:
The new manufacturing facility was created in Palmdale, California (about 90 minutes outside of Los Angeles). Palmdale, CA is host to some of the most technologically advanced facilities in the world for entities such as NASA and Lockheed Martin, to name a few. Kinkisharyo would become a great new addition to the group.
A view from the rear of Accudraft’s 704 outdoor paint booth facility.
The new train and light rail car manufacturing facility is located in Palmdale, California which is home to companies like NASA and Lockheed Martin.
After final design and engineering, Accudraft was ready to execute. Kinkisharyo needed the finishing facility built and operational as soon as possible to kick off full scale manufacturing of rail cars in the US. Two fully outdoor finishing wings were to be designed, engineered, constructed, and commissioned by Accudraft. Wing one was building 702 which consisted of media blast operations and finishing for welded components such as the chassis etc. Blast, prep, liquid paint, air supply, breathing air, and fire suppression were all provided as one package with integration into their existing building systems.
Rail media blast system on the west side of the 702 facility.
The entire building, blast, prep, liquid paint, air supply, breathing air, and fire suppression were all provided as one package with integration into their existing building systems. The BT-05 paint booth provided paint finishing in the 702 location with a split downdraft design.
Rail paint booth BT-05 on the east side of the 702 Facility.
Wing two adjacent to building 704 housed the final finishing area on Kinkisharyo’s new campus. Putty, surface prep, liquid paint application, decal and detail were all housed on one completely standalone outdoor finishing island.
Accudraft breaks ground on the finishing facility at 704. Railcar shells are being produced in Japan and are then tarped and ready to paint.
Construction on 704 was expedited with additional crews & resources in order to begin full scale finishing operations on time at the new facility.
With three separate downdraft paint booths, integrated hydraulic man lifts, mechanical rooms, compressors, holding, tanks, fire suppression systems, breathing air and high volume air filtration systems, natural gas, electrical lines and the necessary transformers, the 704 island is a completely standalone finishing facility.
Mechanical systems integration rooms designed and built by Accudraft house each system’s auxiliary equipment and components in one fluid layout. Multiple convenient points of entry allow access for personnel working in any of the seven systems in the facility.
The final stage of the project was final commissioning, inspection, training and signing off by several parties.
Calibration of the special Low NOx direct fired burners were calibrated and inspected with ppm and registered in order to satisfy environmental and air quality requirements in southern California.
All systems were inspected and approved for full operation. Accudraft spent weeks with Kinkishayo’s personnel training on operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting initial bugs to ensure a smooth transition into full finishing production at the manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California.
Accudraft staff with key operations personnel from Kinkisharyo International during inspection, training, and turnover.
The new facility was complete. Kinkisharyo could now produce a brand new rail car from scratch in 14-17 days with all finishing processes included throughout the various stages. The chassis and bodies are welded, then blasted and finished. FANUC Robotic arms weld in parts that are inside the cabins and workers install miles of cables and switches. Glass and seats are mounted and exterior finishes applied. A quick shower in the final rain test annex and the cars are ready to go.
The cars are then put into full operation on Kinkisharyo’s own private rail track built for testing through and outside the facility.
After quality control inspection by Kinkisharyo and Los Angeles City inspectors, the rail cars are approved and then loaded onto trucks. They are then transported out of the Antelope Valley and over the mountains towards Los Angeles.
A newly painted and inspected rail car being lifted off the outdoor rail track and loaded onto the transport truck to L.A.
One of the first railcars being delivered from Palmdale to Los Angeles.
Kinkisharyo continues to deliver on its contract today and finishing operations are continually supported by Accudraft with a full maintenance contract and extended warranty coverages for any malfunction or emergency repair. Accudraft is very happy to have provided a full scale solution to the team at Kinkisharyo. The contract was an amazing success and we made some good friends along the way. We look forward to seeing the new METRO rail cars in action and feel very proud that each one of them was finished in an Accudraft finishing system.