Manufacturing quality in series

The new fleet programme of DB Netz AG demonstrates extraordinary quality standards. For the first time, we have built track maintenance machines meeting the requirements for motor vehicles.

Five machines under the framework contract have already been put into operation in Germany. Delivered on schedule, each of these machines contributes to the safety and quality of the railway network. Having passed seven quality gates successfully, we were able to keep the schedule.

High availability of the machines

Why did you choose Plasser & Theurer as supplier?

"In the tender procedure of DB AG, Plasser & Theurer's offer stood out from the competition. So, the decision was made in favour of a supplier who has been in a successful business relationship with DB for more than 50 years. Plasser & Theurer is listed as a Q 1 supplier of DB and has the expertise required to develop, manufacture and supply maintenance vehicles. Plasser & Theurer's experience made it possible to implement many of the requirements for standard railway vehicles also for auxiliary vehicles. The professional and cooperative implementation of the project has confirmed that Plasser & Theurer is a competent partner for the supply of sophisticated auxiliary vehicles, forming part of our international supplier portfolio."

Jürgen Guss, Head of Projects, Regional Multiple Units and Special Vehicles, DB AG München

Insourcing: key to quality

The success of this project can easily be explained: the high share of insourcing in our Linz factory, starting as early as in the development phase of the product. Our engineers intensively examined the comprehensive requirements and discussed a great number of differing technical solutions. Only the best solutions are implemented. An intensive phase of collaboration between the departments and suppliers responsible for the mechanical design, the work and drive technology and the cabin design takes a lot of time.

It may be hard to believe, but at Plasser & Theurer we manufacture the majority of the components in-house in the Linz Factory. In the welding shop, we produce the massive frame components. With high precision, our welding robots join the bogies. Later, bogies, wheelsets and suspensions are put together in the assembly plant. At the same time, we build the cabins while our software developers already work on the machine control system. In the final assembly plant in Pummererstraße in Linz, it all comes together.

There are components, however, we do not manufacture in-house. Yet, we set store by top quality. Therefore, we choose our suppliers carefully, opting for renowned manufacturers with long years of experience.

Testing supplied parts

Carrying out supplier audits and first sample test, we ensure the high quality of components purchased from other suppliers. Among others, this applies to the glazing: It must withstand high stresses. We engaged an independent testing body to examine its quality. The laminated safety glass of the front windows must withstand a projectile hitting it at 350 km/h. The window was damaged, but did not break. This stability can save lives when incidents occur.

Before they are used for the first time, other supplied components such as buffers, air-conditioning units or cardan shafts are tested by our Quality Assurance Department together with the respective department at DB. Regular supplies are tested by independent test bodies according to the applicable norms and standards. The quality inspection check list for each machine comprises a total of up to 1,300 items.

Testing our manufacturing quality

Plasser & Theurer sets great store by quality assurance. Every member of staff involved in the manufacturing process bears a lot of personal responsibility. Internal work instructions based on current norms and standards provide support in many fields. Engineers specialised in welding, adhesive and testing technology work in the Quality Assurance Department. Continuous further education and training ensure state-of-the-art production.

The Plasser & Theurer experts closely collaborate with the Quality Assurance Department of DB AG. On a regular basis, they check and document the progress made in the individual plants in Linz:

  • Accuracy: The raw car body is checked.
  • Welding quality: Frames are checked and approved in the welding shop.
  • Paint: During painting, the thickness of the layers is measured.
  • Electrical system: The installation of the cable harnesses is checked.
  • Impermeability : The finished vehicle travels through a sprinkling plant. Here, we test the impermeability of the cabin and the glazing.
  • Test runs: For approval, comprehensive test runs are required for the first vehicle of each vehicle type.

Quality requirements met precisely

How does the quality assurance affect the production of the vehicles?

"The highly qualified expert personnel of Plasser & Theurer excellently fulfilled the quality requirements set by Deutsche Bahn AG for the manufacture of the machines. The company was able to implement required changes as far as possible both during design and manufacture. Plasser & Theurer proved to be a reliable partner. The vehicles were delivered on time. Therefore, the Federal Railway Office EBA and DB were able to check and approve the vehicles in time."

Lutz Hannemann, Procurement Quality Assurance for Rolling Stock and Parts, DB AG Berlin

Forward-thinking and demand-responsive maintenance strategy

Why was this new series of vehicles developed?

"It is the core responsibility of DB Netz AG to provide around 400 railway undertakings with a high quality infrastructure and to ensure a high level of availability to enable them to operate it. To perform the relevant maintenance works, we looked for machines that enable implementing a forward-thinking and demand-responsive maintenance strategy. Plasser & Theurer fully implemented the complex technical requirements and developed a uniform vehicle design. Thanks to the use of standardised components in the differing vehicle types, we see savings potential in maintenance costs, spare parts stocking and training of the operating staff.

Martin Allweil, Head of Rail Vehicle and Machinery Fleet, DB Netz AG Berlin

See the latest vehicle live

In September 2016, InnoTrans visitors can inspect one of the latest maintenance vehicles of DB Netz AG. The TIF tunnel inspection vehicle is equipped with a total of three cranes with a radius of action of up to 14.5 m. The spacious, sound-insulated cabin is mounted on an elastic suspension. Fitted with extendible railings, its roof can be accessed. The machine is also equipped with a toilet with bioreactor. All control instruments required to operate the machine are located in the crane cabin which is also used as an additional driver's cabin. This is the second vehicle of this series acquired by DB Netz AG.

The new documentary "Manufacturing Quality in Series" illustrates the path from the conception to the realisation of a new machine fleet. Recordings made during the various stages of the project provide an insight into the manufacturing process in Linz. Statements of the persons involved provide evidence of the good cooperation.

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