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When the wheels on railway locomotives and freight wagons require re-profiling, the consequence for train operators is downtime and lost revenue. The need to minimise turnaround times and get these vehicles back on the tracks is therefore paramount. Italy-based railway maintenance specialist FGV Rail turned to Meccanotecnica, a leader in machine tool construction and retrofit projects, for an automated pit lathe that could re-profile train wheels in-situ (without disassembly). To execute such a task successfully, the choice of CNC system would prove pivotal.

Meccanotecnica opted for a FANUC series 31i-B Plus control, which is ideal for highly complex machines with multi-axis, high-speed, high-precision requirements. The 31i-B Plus interfaces with a FANUC iPC (industrial PC), a powerful platform designed for reliability and ruggedness in advanced manufacturing applications. Meccanotecnica describes FANUC as a key partner, not only for its fast product deliveries, but also its technical and specialist support.

The Meccanotecnica pit lathe with FANUC 31i-B Plus control and iPC means there is no need to dismantle train wheels for re-profiling, dramatically reducing turnaround times for railway maintenance in Italy. Moreover, compared with the time estimated during the budgeting phase, the automated pit lathe has reduced the cycle time by 50% thanks to the successful re-profiling of train wheels in a single pass.

About FVG Rail

Based in Udine, in Italy’s northeast Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, FGV Rail was founded in 2020 as a specialist in the maintenance of railway rolling stock, specifically locomotives and freight wagons. The company has an 18,000 m² workshop with 10 tracks for rail maintenance, eight of which have access to FGV Rail’s bridge crane. The facility also includes a spare parts warehouse, training rooms and office facilities.

To help minimise wheel maintenance turnaround times for train operators in Italy, FVG Rail commissioned Meccanotecnica to devise an automated sub-floor/pit lathe featuring FANUC control technology. The investment is part of the company’s overall plan to help enhance the city of Udine by attracting more business to the region. Meccanotecnica is a leader in custom machine tool construction and retrofit activities with more than 1000 completed projects to its name.

“The pit lathe is used for re-profiling wheels, which are a fundamental element of railway traffic safety,” explains Dino Parelli, Chief Operating Officer at FGV Rail. “This activity takes place when the wheel profile no longer meets standard dimensions or when technicians identify a defect during routine maintenance.”

The pit lathe features a FANUC numerical control, the 31i-B Plus, which interfaces with a FANUC iPC (industrial PC). The result? Fast, reliable and safe wheel re-profiling processes.

Using the pit lathe means there is no need to dismantle the wheels for re-profiling. In the first instance, a train enters the machine and positions itself. The machine then lifts the train before a measurement probing cycle begins to determine the diameters of the wheels. Meccanotecnica’s pit lathe then removes the necessary material to bring the wheels back into operational tolerance, whether for locomotives or freight wagons.

Nicola Collino, CEO at Meccanotecnica, says: “Compared with the time estimated during the budgeting phase, we managed to reduce the cycle time for re-profiling by 50% using just a single pass. For us, FANUC is a key partner, not only for their punctuality in deliveries, but also for their technical support, both in the field and during the concept stage of the custom solutions we offer to customers.”

The installation of the Meccanotecnica lathe follows strong demand at FGV Rail for this type of work, allowing various Italian entities operating in the railway sector to utilise highly efficient pit lathes in Italy rather than having to locate machines abroad. This reduces turnaround times for wheel maintenance operations and reduces environmental impact.


“The pit lathe with FANUC automation also allows us to be more competitive in the railway maintenance sector,” concludes Parelli. “We have shorter times from order to completion  with more control over the entire process, thus ensuring we can offer a comprehensive service to our clients.”