An engineering company, which developed the world’s first ever portable train weighing system, is on track to expand since a move to new premises in Barnsley.
Weighwell Engineering, which moved to a new factory in Darton in February, first developed its train weighing technology in 1995.
It now provides equipment and software to freight companies and train manufacturers as far afield as the USA, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy and Malaysia.
The company’s new premises, at 11,000 square feet, are twice the size of its old factory in Sheffield.
Since the move to Darton, Weighwell has employed two new staff. Turnover has also doubled in the last year and there are plans to expand the factory further and invest in new equipment and technologies.
Most of the company’s work is with major companies like Hitachi, Bombardier, Siemens and SNCF. The versatility of the system is such that they can weigh anything from passenger and freight trains to trams, underground trains and even snowploughs – in fact anything which runs on a track.
Over the years the company has received some unusual commissions, including being asked to weigh the Royal Train, used by the Queen and other members of the royal family, and the infamous Orient Express.
Weighwell Engineering is being given free business support by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme which is delivered by Barnsley Council.
Managing director Paul Horsfall, who developed the train weighing technology, said: “Wherever there’s a piece of track, we can install our system, so we export all over the world.
“A lot of what we do is first and foremost about safety. Our system measures the balance of a vehicle, whether it is overloaded and whether the weight distribution is symmetrical, so ultimately we help to prevent accidents.”
Weighwell’s Portable Train Weigher can be lifted by two people and fixed to a track where it then weighs the train as it rolls over it. In addition the system is used in factories and depots for statically weighing trains which are being refurbished or maintained.
“Before the introduction of our Portable Train Weigher, trains would have to be transported to remote weighbridges, taken back to depots to be modified, and then weighed again,” said Paul. “It was all very time consuming and costly.”
Such has been the success of the technology that the company received a Design Council Award in 1999, numerous SMART awards and was also recommended for a Queen’s Award.
“Since the move we’ve had a lot of support from Enterprising Barnsley,” said Paul, who has been receiving advice on developing a business plan to enable Weighwell to apply for European funding.
“With their assistance we are making useful investment contacts and becoming a focal point of the community in Darton.”
Enterprising Barnsley offers a wide range of free business support to small and medium-sized businesses with growth potential. The programme is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
Paul Tinsley of Enterprising Barnsley said: “Weighwell Engineering is the market leader in train weighing technology and its innovative technology can help prevent rail disasters across the globe.
“We really welcome the company’s move to Barnsley and look forward to seeing Weighwell expand and develop its business.”