Pfaff Verkehrstechnik supplies WLAN-controlled lifting jack system for the maintenance of the latest multiple-unit trains at BLS's modernised plant in Spiez, Switzerland

Transportation and Rail | Hoisting & Lifting Equipment | by Petra Lugner | 20 Oct 2021

BLS, a railway operating company in Switzerland, has equipped the modernised plant in Spiez with lifting jacks from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik for the maintenance of the latest generation of multiple units. Thanks to the wireless control of the entire lifting jack system via a WLAN infrastructure, flexibility during maintenance work is increased and there are no longer any troublesome control cables on the ground. The 16 Pfaff-silberblau lifting jacks each have a load capacity of 25 tonnes and can lift and lower entire multiple units with a total weight of up to 400 tonnes and a total length of up to 105 metres for maintenance purposes, for example the well-known 4-carriage multiple-unit train “Mutz” with a total weight of 217 tonnes. Thanks to the new system, which can be extended to include further lifting jacks, the modernised workshops in Spiez will also be able to service 6-carriage multiple units in future.

Efficient maintenance of modern transport systems

With over 3000 employees, BLS is one of the largest transport companies in Switzerland. In addition to tourist traffic, it also operates the Berne S-Bahn (urban railway) and thus the second largest S-Bahn network in Switzerland. These modern transport systems depend on reliable maintenance and inspection. For this reason, the workshops in Spiez, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Berne, were modernised in a construction period of only two years, which also saw the fire protection and occupational safety being brought up to date there. With the improvements and the Pfaff-silberblau lifting jack system, BLS is creating the conditions for efficient organisation and ergonomic execution of maintenance work with the lowest possible downtimes.

Control via WLAN network

The power supply for the lifting jacks is provided via the track pit. Three WLAN access points below the building roof, each with three additional antenna amplifiers, provide a uniformly strong WLAN network throughout the entire area of the building. Each jack is equipped with an antenna to receive the WLAN control signal from the main cabinet. The flexible positioning of the control panel on the respective lifting jack, i.e. directly on site, increases safety during maintenance work.

The safety level of the WLAN-controlled system is identical to that of the wired systems. The equipment complies with DIN EN 1493, a European standard for vehicle lifting platforms with one or more lifting units for the complete lifting of vehicles in order to inspect and work on them.

Efficiency and precision all down the line

The load anvil of the lifting jacks, which protrude deep into the track pit, and the wide load reach make it possible to lift the rail vehicles by the bogie frame or the support points on the wagon body, whereby the load arm can be adjusted horizontally even under full load. Various adapters offer many possibilities for lifting different vehicle types. The spring-loaded rail mountings are equipped with a gripping unit.

The lifting jacks lift and lower the vehicles at speeds of 295 mm/min. The low lifting or lowering speed allows persons to stay briefly under the load as it lifts or lowers for special maintenance or repair work in accordance with the safety aspects of DIN EN 1493. The synchronisation control is +/-2 mm, i.e. all 16 lifting jacks control the lifting or lowering process within a tolerance range of only 4 mm. For ergonomic working, the lifting height can be used flexibly up to a maximum height of 2,800 mm. The mechanical design and external geometry of the lifting jacks ensure that there are no unwanted contours due to stiffening elements in the track and train area.

Extensions easily possible

The entire lifting jack system was assembled and configured in just two weeks. The dimensioning of the building, including tracks, lifting jacks and control system, allows easy expansion by up to 8 additional lifting jacks, so that even longer multiple-unit trains or trains with a different carriage body layout can be serviced in the future. On the one hand, BLS wants to expand the Mutz fleet and has already ordered new 6-carriage trains. BLS is also already expecting Flirt 4, the next modern multiple unit generation with a different carriage body layout.

The proven design of the Pfaff-silberblau lifting jack systems in conjunction with state-of-the-art control technology guarantees maximum system safety and optimum operating ergonomics for maintenance personnel. In addition to mobile lifting jacks, the product range of Pfaff Verkehrstechnik also includes all types of lifting platforms for rail vehicles, maintenance systems and roof working platforms. Pfaff Verkehrstechnik thus offers suitable solutions for all maintenance and repair work on bogies, wheel sets and vehicle chassis.

Further information on Pfaff Verkehrstechnik and its products is available online at


Picture: Maintenance and servicing of the 4-part Mutz with a total weight of 217 tons in the modernized plant in Spiez on lifting jacks from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik



About Pfaff Verkehrstechnik

Pfaff Verkehrstechnik GmbH is a sister company of Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products GmbH, also based in Kissing, under the umbrella of the US Columbus McKinnon Group. In addition to the supply of traffic components, Pfaff Verkehrstechnik primarily offers the complete project planning, installation and maintenance of turnkey lifting systems for rail vehicles. The Pfaff-silberblau lifting systems are used worldwide. More information on the services and products of Pfaff Verkehrstechnik can be found here:


About Pfaff-silberblau and Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products

Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products GmbH, Kissing, with its Pfaff-silberblau brand, has been one of the technology leaders in components and system solutions for mechanical drive and lifting technology for many decades. The portfolio ranges from high-quality screw jacks and innovative linear drives to high-performance lifting tables and winches. Based on these components, Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products also offers customer-specific solutions for a wide range of applications. Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products is a subsidiary of the listed Columbus McKinnon Corporation (CMCO), Getzville/USA, a leading provider of lifting and conveyor technology. Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products is a partner of the VDMA's Blue Competence sustainability initiative ( Information on Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products and products of the Pfaff-silberblau brand can be found under


Company contact:


Engineered Products GmbH

Press: Petra Lugner

Am Silberpark 2-8

86438 Kissing/Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 8233 2121 2702




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