Innofreight Solutions GmbH develops customized, innovative wagons, containers, and unloading systems for rail transport companies. Around 2,000 InnoWagons and more than 15,000 containers are in use throughout Europe. Some of these are sold to customers, others are leased. However, compliance with the ECM regulation must be guaranteed in both cases. Due to the strongly growing complexity – caused by different contracts with customers and different responsibilities – administrative and communicative efforts arise.
In his position as Quality Manager at Innofreight Solutions GmbH, Mr. Seidl is responsible for compliance with the ECM regulation. In an interview, he shared with us details of the challenges that have evolved within the company as complexity has increased.
Innofreight leases entire systems to customers. What challenges do you face in the field of ECM 1 to ECM 3 responsibility?
In our case, it depends very much on the situation or the customer whether or which ECM management functions we take on. Ultimately, it is also a question of costs and responsibility that the customer is willing to bear.
When a customer rents our system, he rents the wagon on the one hand and the container on the other. For the wagon, we negotiate with the customer on a case-by-case basis who will take on the role of owner. If we are the owner, we usually also take on the ECM management function. The container itself is not subject to ECM responsibility. Here, the customer can – to put it simply – order a maintenance package that suits him. It is often the case that we sell the car – and are therefore no longer its owner – but nevertheless remain the keeper and thus take over the ECM functions.
On the one hand, the flexibility in our services contributes significantly to our success, but on the other hand, it also entails an enormous amount of organizational work. Because creating and managing the contracts for all these scenarios is of course very complex, regardless of whether we work – as before – with our Excel list, or – as now – with BOOM’s software.
What is your specific responsibility with regard to ECM2? Do you receive information and data back from your customers – from those who have bought wagons – in order to continuously adapt maintenance strategies? If so, in what regard do these adaptations take place?
In fact, the ECM 2 should be the central office where all relevant information about the wagon is collected. In other words, the ECM 2 role should receive information about the vehicle from the owner, the keeper, the ECM 3 and the ECM 4. In reality, however, this rarely happens. Information only reaches us in the event of a complaint. After we sell a wagon, we have nothing more to do with it, the warranty period of two years is stipulated in the sales contract. If there is a complaint over this period, we of course inform our ECM 2 office. But apart from that, we don’t get much information from our customers.
We are not the manufacturer of the vehicle, but we have established a set of maintenance rules that naturally takes into account the manufacturer’s specifications and those of the suppliers of subcomponents. The maintenance strategies are derived from this and other rules – such as the 6-year inspection frequency.
What challenges do you face in management of damaged wagons of your systems due to the use by different railway undertaking companies? How do you deal with it?
Our own wagons, for which we are both the owner and the ECM, are used throughout Europe, where the language barrier is clearly a challenge. However, many RUs use the GCU template, which makes the whole thing much easier. The main problem, however, is the transmission, i.e. that the reports reach us in the first place. This involves a great deal of administrative and communication effort. We countered this by splitting the company into four country organizations three years ago – in favor of greater customer proximity and faster response times.
Nevertheless, we have centralized the entire distribution of spare parts. The workshop headquarters in St. Michael (AT) has sovereignty over it. The decisive reasons for this included increased transparency and the cost factor.
Here we also rely on the fact that the software of BOOM will bring us a great relief.
Can you give us some reasons why rail transport companies, including the big players in the industry, rent systems from Innofreight?
The most essential point, in my opinion, is the increased safety. We offer the user a completely different security concept compared to other providers, I would say. In the event of technical problems with our systems, a service employee at the customer’s site will take care of the problem. Once again, this is where our fast response time comes into play – which of course helps us score points with our customers.
Our innovative solutions combined with our services ensure virtually no or minimal vehicle downtime. The modularity of our systems plays a particularly important role here. A wide variety of containers can be mounted on the carrier wagons, which can transport anything from wood chips and logs to steel products, liquids or any bulk material. For example, if a container is damaged – which can happen due to manipulation activities during loading or unloading – the container can be replaced in just one day. In the case of less complex containers, the whole process even takes only a few hours.
Furthermore, load control is also an important factor for the customer’s management. In most of our cases, this is beyond 25%, which means enormous savings potential for the customer: Either 25% more can be transported with the same number of trains, or every fourth train can be saved.
Would you like to learn more about the implemented Boom software solution at Innofreight Solutions GmbH and how the solution supports compliance with the ECM regulation? You can find the reference story with all the information hier.
Are you dealing with similar issues in your daily business and want to address these challenges like Innofreight Solutions GmbH? Contact our ECM specialists via an informal email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let our experts present your options in a free consultation.
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