In the past, when operators bought a new train, their focus was on cost. Things are different today. But why?

The complete life cycle costs of a rail vehicle play an increasingly important role. Operators have to look to the future from the very outset. Other reasons are shorter technology cycles and the growing expectations of passengers in terms of comfort, safety and reliability. The operator has to deal with these challenges - even for his existing fleets.

How is Knorr-Bremse reacting to these changes?

Our focus is on providing operators with real added value over the complete life cycle of their vehicles. On the one hand, our products and systems are developed from the outset with the focus on maintainability and sustainability. On the other hand, we already have appropriate services in mind when we are developing our products.

It goes without saying that service packages need to be individually tailored to the particular operator. A mass transit operator in Shanghai has different needs to an operator of high speed trains in Europe – including in terms of cultural traditions.

In Europe in particular, fleets are also getting older, so RailServices is concentrating actively on topics such as replacement of obsolete products such as control units, modernization of components and subsystems, integrated modernization concepts as well as new products for retrofitting state-of-the-art functions. We are also aware that approval is a central issue in the railway industry and are therefore doing everything to provide optimal support for our customers in this field.

Against this background Knorr-Bremse has identified RailServices as an area for growth. All our service features are now bundled under the RailServices brand, with the aim of expanding this area in the coming years to account for around 50% of the revenues of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems.

Operators often wonder whether they should perform these services themselves or pass them on to third parties.

Technical progress means that nowadays an even greater degree of specialization is called for. Specialist know-how and experience of different products and vehicle types are essential, as is modern testing technology. Knorr-Bremse possesses both and is therefore predestined to supply services. Nobody knows train subsystems better than the company that developed and manufactured them in the first place!

What can Knorr-Bremse do that others cannot?

Knorr-Bremse is a globally operating company with more than 100 years of experience in the field. We are able to bring our systems expertise to local customers and tailor our services to their precise needs and operating environment. In addition to braking systems, our continuously updated portfolio includes HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and door systems, as well as backup, control and driver advisory systems. New products are already under development. Colleagues at RailServices are currently working on intelligent condition monitoring of all the Knorr-Bremse systems on a vehicle.

'Service' is a very abstract and broad concept. What does it mean against the backdrop of RailServices?

With more than 30 service centers and over 1,400 employees all over the globe, RailServices is an ideal partner. Our experts are available at all times, even when a rapid response is required. We only sell original parts offering original performance – and we ensure their availability for decades. This means, of course, that all our service centers rely on the procedures and processes of a tried-and-tested production system.

How can Knorr-Bremse ensure the consistent quality of its products and services throughout the world?

In addition to using state-of-the-art lean manufacturing technology in our service centers, we also select and train our service employees in our products and service culture – partly in our specially-created RailServices Academy. Employees are selected according to precisely defined criteria – we insist on them having what we call a
'service-gene'. Of course, in addition to this comprehensive training we also invest in modern equipment.