A winter with Corona

The Corona regulations naturally had an impact on the winter season at the Leverkusen-Opladen maintenance workshop. Despite changed working conditions and selective problems due to the imposed measures, we can nevertheless report a winter with an encouraging use of capacity.

A winter season like no other before. For almost a year, the Corona measures determine public life and work in the companies. No one can escape the effects. Nevertheless, many try to keep performance levels as high as possible. Deutsche Plasser's maintenance workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen is one of them. A large number of the prescribed measures are visible here at first glance: people work with FFP2 protective masks, pay attention to a distance of 1.5 m, and regular trips to wash hands or use disinfectants are obligatory.

Digitalisation makes enormous progress

Not visible at first glance, but arguably even more formative in the long term, are the innovations brought about by the digitalisation push. Video conferences instead of face-to-face meetings and the associated travel are now standard. The "paperless office", which was only talked about for years, is now becoming reality. More and more information flows via apps and digital info boards, and these digital channels are now being interconnected at lightning speed to form integrated systems.

Existing digital systems are being used even more extensively. In Leverkusen-Opladen, in particular, this applies to the ERP system, whose functional potential is now being used more and more. Entire orders are now mapped in it, the work slips are automatically generated by the system, and reconciliation with resource planning is also already carried out automatically.

More complex orders shape the picture

For our maintenance workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen, this development comes at the right time. It creates optimised conditions for implementing major projects in a more structured and thus more efficient way. And it is precisely these major projects that have already shaped the picture in the workshop this winter.

Gabriele Plotka took over the management of the workshop in March 2021. She is well qualified to help shape these next steps in the plant's development thanks to the relevant experience she has gained at Deutsche Bahn, among others. "The centralisation of approval processing within the EU is without doubt a step forward in the long term. Ultimately, the standardisation of this process should bring benefits for all involved. In the medium term, however, the railway construction companies are challenged by the fact that - at least for the time being - it will take significantly longer until new machines are approved. For us in Leverkusen-Opladen, this can be seen in the fact that our customers often tend to have older machines modernised rather than purchase new ones due to time constraints. The cost factor can, of course, be an additional motivation for a general overhaul or a retrofit.

Major overhaul for a 08-275/4ZW by BAM

A good example of projects of this magnitude is the work on the self-loading and cyclically operating Plassermatic 08-275/4ZW of the Dutch company BAM Infra Rail bv. The company has been working with Deutsche Plasser for decades, so it is quite a common sight to see a BAM machine in the workshop in Leverkusen-Opladen. However, the magnitude of this order is remarkable, since it is an overhaul that has the character of a retrofit in many areas.

The 20-year-old machine was overhauled in Leverkusen-Opladen 8 years ago. Since mid-January 2021, the machine has been back in the workshop and is now being overhauled from the ground up. Andreas Tamm, the workshop foreman in charge of the project: "After 20 years of use, it is clear that all parts of the machine must be fundamentally checked and certain components renewed. In the process, it can happen that other defects become visible beyond the planned work. Among other things, it turned out that the housings of the hydraulic tank and the diesel tank were cracked and therefore had to be welded. We also had to repair cracks in the vehicle frame by welding repairs. The supports for the intermediate roofs also had to be renewed and re-welded to the main frame."

From the new engine to the new Smart ALC

Apart from the rectification of these subsequently identified defects, there was already a considerable list of planned measures when the contract was awarded. These included the installation of a new diesel engine, the complete renewal of the hydraulic hoses and electrical wiring, the revision of the bogies, the overhaul of the tamping units, the conversion of the vehicle lighting to LED and the rebuilding of the cabins. In addition to this work, a new Smart ALC automatic guiding computer was installed.

The approval remains valid

After delivery, the overhauled 08-275/4ZW will be back in operation without delay. Workshop manager Gabriele Plotka: "Despite the extensive work, the BAM machine retains its approval and can travel directly from Leverkusen-Opladen to the next construction site. This aspect is also particularly important to me in this case. It is one of the great advantages that we can offer our customers, especially in the context of such large projects."