FRP Strengthens Freight Rail Shipping for Agricultural Commodities


Since 2021, the United States has been exporting record amounts of agricultural products to Asia, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The most common commodities include grain, soybean meal, malt, barley, salt, potash, corn gluten meal, lime, fertilizer, soda, ash, clay, and distillers’ grains. These commodities typically originate within the Midwest and are transported to locations on the Gulf Coast and in the Pacific Northwest to be loaded on shipping vessels.

Freight rail is the preferred method of land transport for producers and processors. As a result, Wabtec Corporation offers multiple specialty components, including hatch covers, to outfit trough-style freight cars. Wabtec hatch covers, which are manufactured from aluminum and fiberglass, are outfitted on covered hopper cars for producers and processors to load, store, and unload agricultural products.

Product: Hopper Freight Car Hatch Cover
Process: Pultrusion
Materials & Sizes: Custom pultruded 32" wide hatch profile
For: Wabtec Corporation
User: Freight Rail Operators

Wabtec and Strongwell recently collaborated on an Association of American Railroads (AAR)-approved sealed hatch cover system outfitted with Strongwell’s Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP). With better overall durability and corrosion resistance, FRP reduces the total hatch cover weight by almost 20 percent compared to its aluminum counterpart.

Within their hatch cover system, the pultruded panels can be easily fabricated to any length. The panels measure 32" wide to cover a 24" opening. The four-inch overlap on each side ensures a tight weather-resistant seal between the cover and coaming of the car.

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