Better Braking With Barcodes


 New York Air Brake depends on Metalcraft nameplates to serve global railway customers

The Challenge

New York Air Brake (NYAB), serving the rail industry since 1890, today operates the most technologically advanced rail brake manufacturing facility in North America, providing air brake control systems and components, electronically controlled braking systems, foundation brakes, training simulators and train handling systems worldwide. Their core valve technology is built into over 455,000 railroad cars. These products travel through some of the world's harshest environments – a single train may travel from arctic to desert environments where temperatures swing from -50 to over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Cars frequently haul coal or chemicals, and trains are subject to constant vibration and occasional shock, too. Over the life of the railcar, periodic maintenance is performed at service shops operated by several different entities.

The Solution

Each air brake sent to NYAB service centers is identified by a serial barcode that records when and where the product was manufactured. Further, each brake control contains five separate barcodes – one for the system and one for each of four major components. The information is vital to warranty and repair work. NYAB uses the barcode identification to gather additional data during product testing and repair – patterns in operation, lifespan and working conditions – to improve the performance and durability of their products.

"We've been stopping trains worldwide for over 120 years," said NYAB senior buyer Robert Ward. "Tracking data on our products' performance helps us to deliver unequaled reliability, to maximize the customers' return on investment and to make our customers more profitable." Ward selected Metalcraft to provide anodized aluminum barcode nameplates for this important tracking job. The Iowa-based manufacturer of property identification solutions specializes in durable nameplates and labels and they've adapted their nameplate adhesive to meet the demands of NYAB's challenging application.

"Metalcraft is a really good company to work with," said Ward. "Orders are always handled promptly and efficiently. They're on top of everything."

The Result

New York Air Brake's brake control equipment has a 30-year life span and a five-year warranty. Collecting data throughout these periods remains vital to NYAB's business, and durable barcodes enable this important work. "We have barcode nameplates that are still performing after being attached to brakes for 10 years," said Ward. "With the long-term exposure to extreme conditions, I can't imagine a more robust application for Metalcraft barcode nameplates."