Like any revolutionary idea, the concept behind Voith Turbo Scharfenberg’s new one4® coupler head is so simple that many people had the same question in mind when it was officially presented early in May: “How come nobody has invented that yet?” The one4 head represents a radical simplification and standardisation of the existing coupler head designs, providing significant benefits especially in terms of maintenance.
So far, a coupler typically consists of one single cast part. The one4, however, is characterised by a removable front plate that is attached to the coupler body using screws which are not even involved in the force flow due to the special design geometry applied. This allows the coupler body to become a standard component which complements with a type-specific front plate. Front plates are currently available for the four basic coupler types, but custom-made solutions can of course be provided as well. In this way compatibility with all existing couplers is ensured.
Up to now, accidents affecting the coupler front typically required the replacement of the complete head assembly; with the one4 head, a new front plate will do in most cases. This puts an end to long downtimes! Both the time and cost of maintenance are reduced considerably, thus allowing the train to resume operation within hardly more than two hours.
Maintenance activities on internal head components no longer require the often cumbersome use of special tools. After removing the front plate, all components are easily accessible from the front side.
In addition to the above benefits, the one4 offers a couple of further improvements: the front plate can be made of rustproof steel to avoid corrosion problems; the loss protection of the air pipe connections has been simplified considerably; coupler face heaters can be retrofitted easily as the standard front plate design already features appropriate grooves.
The one4 head is currently undergoing extensive field trials on the ICE3 high-speed train.