Long train delays could soon be a thing of the past thanks to Lisburn Company, Kelman Ltd. The Invest Northern Ireland backed company has won a £2 million contract to provide Network Rail, formerly Railtrack, with its innovative Signet product that speeds up detection and location of signal faults.

Faulty signals and the time taken to identify and repair them are one of the main causes of train delays. Signet is an intelligent protection scheme that automatically isolates faults and restores the power supply, so minimising train hold-ups.

The £2 million deal is the company’s biggest contract to date and could potentially lead to further significant sales of the product.

Says Peter Cunningham, Kelman's Director of Sales & Marketing: “Kelman's philosophy is to provide radically new solutions to the problems of its customers rather than incremental improvements to existing techniques. Maintaining signalling power supplies has traditionally been achieved by using standard fuses at the source. This meant that large sections of power supply or even the whole supply could be lost in the event of a fault.

“We decided to take a new approach and developed Signet, which works by tripping the units closest to the fault while maintaining power supply along the rest of the chain. Network Rail will be installing the system nationwide and we’re confident that there is also an international market for Signet.”

Kelman has invested heavily in product development in recent years and with the help of Invest NI’s Compete Programme developed two products, Rezap and Fusemate, which were selected as Millennium Products by the Design Council and have been a considerable success for the company. The company has also established strategic alliances in a number of countries with key players with specialised technologies that complement the Kelman development programme.

Michael Polson, Manager Industrial Products in Invest NI comments: “This significant contract with Network Rail has resulted from Kelman’s focus on research and development in their specialist field of electricity distribution. The electricity utility market has changed and developed in recent years and the company has been able to react quickly to changing market requirements and to take advantage of new opportunities.

“Invest NI has supported the company’s development across the breadth of its business activity. This has ranged from specialist technical assistance for its programme of product development to support for market development visits and assistance with developing and implementing a marketing strategy.

“Kelman is an excellent example of a local company which is developing world class innovative products and embracing strategic alliances with companies that have complementary technologies, and as a result is trading successfully in the international marketplace.”