We live in turbulent times. Many crucial questions remain unanswered. Without doubt, one of the central topics is the global climate change. Business, in particular, is called upon to fundamentally question previously valid concepts. New ways of thinking and implementation are required, with sustainability playing a major role. Here, a lot could be learned from modern track construction. At Deutsche Plasser, sustainability is already embedded in the corporate objectives.
One of the key areas we have to confront in order to get a grip on climate change is transport. Of course, we need mobility to retain our standard of living. But we need to ask ourselves if we really need everything we have today and if we can afford to keep it up. Above all, we need to ask ourselves if we should not push certain means of transport much more. Yes, this clearly refers to the railway. For the simple reason that the railway is the most sustainable means of transport we have. How long have we been talking about moving freight primarily onto the rail? And how far do we still have to go with this? Anybody working in track construction knows this only too well.
When talking about sustainability, track construction companies are generally in the right place. Their work contributes to keeping the railway system running. And they do this with machines that are highly efficient. There is hardly any other sector of industry that works as environmentally friendly as the railway and conserves natural resources at the same time.
Deutsche Plasser was founded to support these sustainable companies. It is 60 years this year since we started to provide original spare and wear parts for Plasser & Theurer machines in Germany. We gradually developed into a service company with a comprehensive offering. We carry out repairs, both on the track and in the workshop, we provide hire equipment and replacement parts, have been overhauling tamping units for many years and are continuously expanding our range of services with new offers such as the retrofit programme. Ultimately, our services will always help to secure the availability machines and to extend the service life of tamping units and machines.
In addition to the Munich headquarters, we set up a new maintenance workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen ten years ago. That was by far not the best time for such a venture in German track construction. Nevertheless, we were convinced that in the long term there would be a demand for a workshop of that size and with those facilities. And we were right. For it is proven again and again that expert repairs, maintenance, overhauls and upgrades of machines are key for the economic success of more and more partners. The idea behind it: the bottom line of the longer a machine is in service the more economically efficient it is.
It was not just considerations on the sustainable development of track construction that fed into the construction of the Leverkusen-Opladen workshop. Back then we were also keen to consider the topic of sustainability in the building process. Right from the start, the building was heated using heat pumps that supply thermal energy from the ground into the floor of the building. The roof was designed such that a large area was available for the use of photovoltaics and the factory hall has plenty of natural light. Air conditioning was not installed to avoid the consumption of unnecessary additional energy. In addition, an unusually large amount of green spaces was provided on the factory site. So, many initiatives in this industrial building set an example in many an area.
Deutsche Plasser’s philosophy is characterised by setting sensible trends for the long term, such as the establishment of the Leverkusen-Opladen plant. It is also important to recognise the signs of the time, which today more than ever are on the long-lasting use of available resources. The new retrofit programme hits the nail on the head with this trend. Retrofit is the obvious answer to the question whether it is worth upgrading a 20- or 30-year old machine. It is definitely worth doing.
The fundamental idea of the programme is to retain the basic substance of a machine that is in working order and only recondition or renew those parts that need it. Furthermore, components are replaced in a targeted manner to achieve higher productivity with new technologies. Typical examples would be the DRP data recording device, the new SmartALC guiding computer or the latest measuring technology. All work is agreed with the customer and corresponds exactly to the scope of the planned investment. After a retrofit, the machine will be operational again for many more years.
The cost is distinctly below the purchase cost. The time effort is significantly less, and the approval is retained. In addition, the staff are familiar with the machine and can work at full capacity straight away.
Sustainability is one of the crucial answers to today’s pressing questions. The railway, too, is a key answer. And the companies that promote the success of the railways through economically efficient track construction and maintenance are certainly in the right place. We at Deutsche Plasser are proud to be part of this sustainable system and to contribute to making it even more attractive for the future with our services.