A flash of inspiration saves City employees 20,000+ hours of backbreaking work each winter, thanks to Neil Ganske’s impressively inventive mind.
Neil Ganske just can’t stop trying to make the world more efficient and safer for the people he supervises on Edmonton’s LRT track and right-of-way system.
He’s an extraordinary inventor, you see, and we’re darn lucky that he likes his work with the City, because he’s saying no to the LRT maintenance equipment manufacturers who keep dangling job offers at him.
Just one of his inventions, an adaptation to a tractor-like sweeper vehicle, has not only saved the City more than $120,000 a winter, but it’s done away with back-breaking work that sometimes led to WCB claims.
In winter, rail flangeways at the LRT system’s level crossings build up with compacted snow, ice, dirt and sand, creating the danger that LRT wheels could ‘walk out’ of the rails. The flangeways must be cleared regularly, especially when it’s snowing, or during freeze-thaw cycles.
Before Neil’s invention, a crew of four workers was required to jackhammer ice out of the rails at each of the system’s 30 crossings – hard labour by any standard.
Neil’s flash of inspiration was to add two narrow rotating wheels of very stiff stainless steel brushes to an existing bristle sweeper ‘tractor’. The steel brushes are positioned to fit exactly into the rail flangeways.
Now, a single employee can do all 30 grade crossings in one night shift, with no danger to the worker’s health! (Neil recently won a City Manager’s safety award for his innovation.)
Neil approached LRT rail maintenance equipment manufacturer RPM Tech with the idea. The company engineered the product at no cost to the City, and is now selling it to other winter cities’ LRT systems.
Neil has generated other nifty ideas for our LRT, and people elsewhere are already adapting those ideas to their systems.
So why hasn’t he jumped to the private sector?
“I really like where I am, and I appreciate the flexibility the City has given me to follow up on the ideas I have for greater efficiency or increased safety.
“I’m not interested in moving anywhere else.”