Laird says new product is a ‘game changer’

Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank Bill Peto of Hermitage, Pa., a quality assurance technician at Laird Technologies’ manufacturing plant in Warren, explains how this Transport Locomotive Control Unit will help save space at production plants, steel mills and other industrial facilities. Laird recently launched the new product.

WARREN — Imagine three large boxes filled with the wires and components you need to complete your daily on-the-job responsibilities.

Now, consider the task of trying to fit all of those parts into a single container, no bigger than the largest of the boxes you already have.

“That’s what we’ve done,” explained Brian Crawford. “We’ve taken a pretty big three-box system and downsized in into one. It’s pretty impressive when you think about it.”

Crawford, a Howland resident, is a quality control technician at the Laird manufacturing plant in Warren.

In 2014, the British-based electronics and technology company, a unit of Laird PLC, relocated its local operations from Sharpsville, Pa., to the Warren plant on North River Road.

The company, which specializes in creating wireless devices and remotes designed to control heavy equipment and locomotives, recently launched its new Transport Locomotive Control Unit.

The product isn’t the only one the company has introduced since setting up operations in Warren, said Sue Moore, Laird marketing director.

But it is “a little bit of game changer for the industry it serves,” and among others the company soon plans to announce, she added.

The unit is designed to be installed inside locomotives, or engines, that power trains used at industrial plants to move products, materials or supplies from one area of the facility to another, along a secondary track known as a spur.

“These are the rail systems you see that allow a plant to move materials from the Class I freight, or the bigger rail systems that transport products across the country,” Moore explained. “But this product, this unit is for use by the facility to take the product from the big freight system and bring it into the production facility and transport it where it needs to be.”

The new unit that is now available for supply serves as the remote, wireless system that controls the locomotive and is designed as a “small space, easy-install solution,” Moore explained.

“Ease of installation, ease of maintenance and fewer parts,” she said.

The unit was designed with consideration given to space constraints within rail locomotives.

Bill Peto of Howland, an electronics/quality control technician at Laird, said over time space inside a locomotive has become become more limited as new equipment is added. But the new control unit saves space in the engine room.

“As technology advances, more equipment is added for running the locomotive, communications and other operations,” he said. “To make more room you have to downsize. The new unit simplifies the wiring and you can run everything through one box instead of three.”

Chris Cremer of Stow, director of sales for Laird Controls in North America, said the unit will be used at steel mills, including some in the Mahoning Valley.

“We see customers needing the quality and features of the larger freight systems, in a smaller more purpose-driven solution specifically designed for moving materials from the freight system into the production facility,” Cremer said.