Sven Peters has been head of the Leverkusen-Opladen maintenance workshop since early 2018. To make his vision reality, he would have to increase manpower significantly. This is an ambitious, but realistic goal, given the framework conditions and the measures already taken.
We met with Sven Peters to talk about the present and the future of the maintenance workshop.
Mr. Peters, you have been head of the Leverkusen-Opladen maintenance workshop for around ten months now. What have been your priorities so far?
It’s important to say that I am heading a maintenance workshop that has continuously further developed since its opening. In this time, the workshop did not see giant leaps but a steady increase in staff, from around 20 to 40 people employed today. And I’m not even including our 7 apprentices in this count. The size we have reached now requires new structures.
What does this mean exactly?
This means, for instance, that we no longer believe that every member of staff has to be capable of doing all works. In a workshop as big as ours, this is no longer possible. What we increasingly need are specialists with expertise in particular fields. However, the operational sequences and our organisation are even more important. This year, we have invested a lot of effort in optimising the structures. Our workshop’s organisation chart has completely changed.
Which criteria did you use to achieve this?
Team spirit was crucial. Our new team leaders Stefan Brandt and Marco Grewe can work with a total of three teams each, each consisting of about five members of staff. Depending on the order, a certain number of teams is needed to fulfil the job. The experience gained so far proves that the new system is much more efficient.
Does the new system also benefit our customers?
Indeed. It is a huge benefit: Now, there is one contact person who is available for our customer’s at any time and for any concern - be it in technical as well as in organisational matters. This allows our customers to communicate with us more easily and transparently.
In percentage, how much of the structural changes scheduled have already been implemented?
By the end of the year, we will have implemented around 85 %. Next year, we will focus on fine-tuning.
Let’s go back to what you have already achieved. The re-certification audit as an ECM was carried out in mid-2018. What does this certificate mean for your workshop?
Deutsche Bahn is making a massive start on ECM. This confirms our vision. It is most likely that the entire railway industry will soon take ECM very seriously. Ultimately, it's about legal certainty. We obtained the ECM certificate for function 4, the Maintenance Delivery Function, in the summer of 2016. Believe me, the auditors were impressed by the high level of transparency and the processes we are working with already today. We are prepared.
What does this mean exactly?
For instance, our campaign for digitalisation is bearing fruit. We installed an electronic information board, which can be accessed by all people who work on a project. It allows all participants to remain up to date at all times and to access any information they need. In addition, we digitalised the so-called black board. We share just-in-time information with our staff via two monitors.
Let’s take a look at the future. At what capacity do you expect the workshop to operate next winter?
Well, we are practically working to capacity. Except for small repairs, we cannot accept new orders until April 2019. But what makes me even happier is that we are already planning the winter season of 2019/20.
The changeover to long-term planning is taking effect. We have started to approach our customers about it and the feedback we are getting is absolutely positive. That doesn't surprise me at all, because who needs surprises in our industry?
Could you elaborate on that?
It’s simple. Let’s assume that a machine arrives at the workshop for inspection, but it turns out that a certain component must be exchanged. However, not all spare parts are available. As a result, the machine might be out of service not only for four weeks, but for four months. This is highly unpleasant for the operator. To prevent that, we have intensified our contact with the customer to keep a closer eye on the condition of a machine. This enables us to detect upcoming repairs at an early stage and facilitates planning. In detail this means: If we know that a wheelset needs to be exchanged during the next inspection, we will make sure that it is available. Our experience has shown that many of our customers are willing to plan for the longer term to ensure their machine’s availability.
So, long-term planning is one of the central topics for the future of the workshop. What about day-to-day business, such as repairs on short notice? What is your strategy for this field?
That’s a good question. Our customers definitely have this demand. We are keeping an eye on this topic. Our new organisational structure provides capacities on short notice and allows us to react quickly. My ambition is to enable the long-term planning of services such as inspections and upgrades to release the capacities needed to offer services more quickly.
So, do I understand it correctly that you plan to expand the capacities?
That is definitely our aim. Based on the new organisation chart I can already tell today where we will need more staff in the future. In the next years, we will fill these positions step by step. In doing so, we aim to take full advantage of the spatial characteristics of the workshop.
Thank you for your time.