Safer, faster, greener trains with MIDEL: An exclusive talk with Steve Jones, Sales Director

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2021-05-27 17:45:00 Viewer: 5,524 Comments: 0 Country: Singapore City: Singapore

Safer, faster, greener trains with MIDEL: An exclusive talk with Steve Jones, Sales Director

Meet Steve Jones, Sales Director of MIDEL that leads the way in delivering transformer fire protection, environmental safety and cost savings for utilities and power and distribution transformer manufacturers since 1970.

Jones is a proven ester technology expert and worked with the largest and most respected companies in the transformer industry to help them deliver against their energy mega-trend challenges. He has hands-on experiences stretch's across distribution to large power transformers as well as specialist applications in traction and renewable energy on a global scale.

In a recent interaction with Urban Transport News, Jones shared very insightful thoughts about how MIDEL contributing to the world with safer, greener and sustainable solutions. 

First, please tell our readers about your professional journey in the industry?

Having been born in a small town in the UK famous for its role in the birth of the railway age, trains have always been part of my life. Amazingly, the railway station in Crewe where I am from was built in 1837 – it is incredible to imagine what rail travel must have been like in those days and what a great engineering story to picture George Stephenson’s rocket passing through it. I began my professional career with a local rail company as an apprentice working on manufacturing and repairing all types of railway equipment from signalling to large bogie sets on rolling stock.  I always had a great sense of pride when travelling on a train with family and friends knowing that I had made a little contribution to the safe and reliable operation of the journey. I then went on to spend the next 10 years supporting the development of rail technology and more recently traffic systems around the world. Now I still champion safer railway technologies here in Asia and have been fortunate to support innovation at leading operators such as Network Rail in the UK, SNCF in France and CRRC in China with its High-speed rail system.

What is the vision and mission of M&I Materials and how the company is planning its expansion in the Asia Pacific Region?

M&I Materials is a leader in commercialising materials for industry and science and proudly operates in over 70 countries. The brand in focus here is MIDEL ester transformer fluids and in Asia Pacific, our mission is to educate engineers on how challenging the status quo can make a significant difference to the performance of energy systems. It isn’t acceptable anymore to settle for ‘we have always done it that way’ – we want to greatly improve rail engineering governance. We are fortunate to have some of the worlds’ most advanced experts in this subject matter and help organisations make the change to ester fluids and give them the confidence to embrace the technology to the fullest; we have no plans to stifle the momentum that we have created.

In line with the United Nations sustainable development goals, one of our principal aims is to make energy systems more sustainable and reduce the impact on our planet which here means greener railways. If you look at alternative dielectric technologies that could be considered for traction or trackside such as mineral oil or silicone fluid, we cannot achieve that. To invest or specify in these materials makes little sense given the global appetite for them is in decline. This is what drives our passion for helping rail stakeholders make the transition to a more environmentally friendly rail network and our MIDEL ester fluids can be a catalyst for this change.

Please list some of your innovative products that are being used for the Railway & Transportation Industry? Who are your major clients in India?

Our synthetic ester transformer fluid MIDEL 7131 is the gold standard material for use in all traction and trackside systems. Although it debuted in rail back in the 1980s, we are still finding ways through strong application engineering to use it as a driver for innovation; helping equipment manufacturers optimise their transformers making them lighter, smaller and even more reliable. As rail travel continues to push the boundaries with faster trains, its application because even more critical given its built-in technical properties. No other dielectric fluid can perform at such a high level across such a demanding load profile which is why it is trusted by rail engineers the world over. In India we have helped the authorities the implement best practice from the European standard EN 45545 to raise the bar on safety provisions and already list leading operators like Delhi Metro, and Mumbai Metro as our long-term partners.

How the company ensures the quality of products in the global market? How do you differentiate your products from other competitors in the market?  

The highest barometer for quality is that which you set for yourselves internally, and we are not prepared to compromise on that. Of course, our MIDEL products confirm to the strictest safety, quality and environmental standards and we make it our business to ensure everything is independently verified and tested thoroughly in the application. Without that how can you deliver confidence to the rail industry and the safety of millions of passengers every day? It is a very dangerous mentality in such a safety-critical industry to cut corners and compromise safety and performance for the sake of a tempting, small benefit in price. Core to our differentiation is how we can help the rail supply chain implement proven technology that is used in other parts of the world and that is something our team enjoys doing, as an example we have done this successfully in India. We regularly work closely with specifiers on how they can save valuable time by learning from what other leading rail operators have already done and fast-track their journey to make sure the specifications are current and future proof with the best dielectric materials to not only meet the demands of today but also in preparation for what we can expect for many years to come.

How Covid-19 outburst affects the M&I Materials’ business and the steps you have taken to overcome it?

The pandemic has affected many things in both our personal and professional lives, and that has meant we have had to adapt. The transition to digital interactions has been challenging but something we have embraced and our team in India have not missed a beat in attending to the needs of our customers. We have re-calibrated our approach and have produced lots of thought leadership content such as the 2 webinars we recently hosted on both rail infrastructure and traction and rolling stock. If you haven’t yet seen them, you should schedule it in your diary to do so and both are available on demand.

Interestingly, it has also allowed organisation and individuals to reassess priorities and that’s where our MIDEL technology has benefitted. It was all too easy before for engineers to be ‘occupied’ with solving the problems or challenges of ‘that day’ whereas now that the distractions are less, they have time to properly evaluate what is necessary for change and make better engineering judgments. It is quite common now for us to hear technical experts say, ‘why didn’t we do this sooner?’

We of course miss the physical interaction with customers, but right now we have a bigger purpose to serve in ensuring we unite to beat the virus and stop the spread. Like in our MIDEL products, safety should always remain the highest priority.

What are your expectations and presumptions on business growth in Post-Covid?

Our growth journey has not stopped during the pandemic and I do not see any reason for that to change post-COVID. We are very well positioned to help companies in both the energy space and more specifically rail make positive changes on safety and sustainability. We are passionate about making a difference and are proud to be doing this with various Indian railways and Metro rail projects. The government has made some impressive commitments to the future of rail transportation and have set aside significant investment to make those plans a reality. MIDEL will be there every step of the way to ensure it becomes an engineering success.

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

If MIDEL is new to you don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts to understand more. You may like to get in touch with our Indian Team led by MIDEL Expert Mr. Amit Kumar.

You can also visit our virtual exhibition at Urban Rail and Equipment Business 2021 – Hall no 1, stand no 2.

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