Ben van Schijndel
19 September 2018
Ben van Schijndel, Business Development Manager at Strukton Rail, knows from experience what the benefits are of partnerships.
Together you are stronger than alone. This is one of the reasons why Strukton Rail increasingly more often enters into partnerships with other companies.
I am going to start my blog with a first: Strukton Rail is entering into a partnership with Willow and Rail Restore. Furthermore, we will be intensifying our partnership with Siemens. That pleases me, because our experience with this German company is very positive.
Working together with other companies is not really all that special. In, on, under and above the tracks there are all kinds of products supplied by various companies. Safety devices, rails, ballast: they all regularly encounter each other along the tracks. But how you work together can differ. One party may supply the parts on one occasion, while the other party assembles them. Sometimes you assemble the product together, because you know that this yields added value. The choice is not always ours and in part depends on the client’s wishes, and on budgets and risks.
Our new partnership with Siemens goes a step further, because we are increasingly interweaving our business processes
When you go a step further in such collaborative arrangements, we speak of partnerships. One condition for this is that we as Strukton Rail and the party on the other side of the table independently would like to work together. For example because we realise that the products and services we both supply are a perfect match. Each party has its own skills and together you provide more value than each party independently. A partnership therefore not always comes about because the client wants it. Furthermore, it is not always motivated by an explicit client request.
The result of a partnership is better work. In terms of the end result as well as the work’s substance: the work becomes more enjoyable. A good example is the hump system at the classification yard in Kijfhoek (NL). Containers are unloaded from ships and placed on freight cars located on top of a hill (hump). The freight cars drive down and are shunted to the proper train via switches and are braked on time. Siemens developed the software and systems for that hump system. Strukton Rail maintains Kijfhoek. Thanks to the partnership with Siemens, we are able to serve the client better. For example because it is easier to get the right maintenance crew together. This is particularly important, because the hump system is very specific and not everyone understands its workings.
Our new partnership with Siemens goes a step further, because we are increasingly interweaving our business processes. We are going to combine our rail maintenance expertise with the data of Siemens’s freight engine Vectron. The Vectron is crammed full with sensors and other sensitive equipment that at any desired time provide Siemens and the client with insight into the engine’s status. Not only via an on-site computer, but also via an app. This way the client can see whether there is any maintenance to be done.
“If an engine measures a certain value on the same route at the same point each time, then it is clear that there is an anomaly in the track at that spot”
The engine’s equipment is so sensitive that it not only provides information about the engine itself, but also, indirectly, about the condition of the tracks. To give you an example: a minor anomaly, invisible to the naked eye, causes the sensors in the engine to deflect. If an engine measures a certain value on the same route at the same point each time, then it is clear that there is an anomaly in the track at that spot. And this is where things get interesting for Strukton. Because we have equipment that allows us to determine the nature of the anomaly and we are then able to repair it before it causes any disruptions.
In many countries a single company is responsible for rail maintenance as well as transport. In other words, ProRail, which is responsible for the Dutch national railway infrastructure, and the Dutch National Railways (NS) in a single organisation. In that case the Vectron owned by that company would be collecting data about the tracks of the same company. It is easy to see that it is crucial for that organisation to do everything in its power to prevent any disruptions. The engine is an excellent method for gaining insight into the track’s condition. And it is much cheaper than having to install detecting devices at every vulnerable point along the tracks.
I can rightly say that this partnership produces synergy: we add value to the Siemens product – the Vectron. By contrast, we come into contact with potential clients via Siemens. And the client benefits from this. It is what you would call a win-win-win situation.
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