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Turnout sleeper production with Industry 4.0

March 2020

Modern jointed-arm robots for higher productivity
Photo: PCM RAIL.ONE AG

RAIL.ONE Schwandorf GmbH, a subsidiary of the internationally operating PCM RAIL. ONE AG, has opted consistently for Industry 4.0 in its new plant in Schwandorf, Germany: a highly automated manufacturing plant technology, in conjunction with digitalised order processing, enables a continuous production of even small batch sizes, while at the same time offering very short retooling times.

A completely new production process was developed for the new plant. Many processes that were still carried out manually in traditionally oriented production methods have been replaced by state-of-the-art jointed-arm robots and automated portal and transport systems. The machines and moulds that are used in production communicate continuously with a master computer that provides all the information for production. The master computer, in turn, is in constant communication with the company ERP system. The customer benefits at the same time from the great flexibility of the contractor and the highest quality. Even short-term orders or-changes can be put through to production within minutes. The result is impressive: The productivity is almost twice as high as with conventional production methods. But also accompanying processes, such as the acquisition of data for quality assurance or for the control of maintenance, are significantly more efficient due to the high degree of digitalisation. The production plant will mainly supply the South and South-East Regional Areas of DB Netz AG with concrete turnout sleepers and, with an annual production capacity of up to 180,000 metres, will also offer storage facilities of more than 20,000 metres.

The basis for the construction of the plant was a tender issued by DB Netz AG for the production of up to 180,000 running metres of pre-stressed concrete turnout sleepers per year over a total period of 15 years.

Ideal location for improved track construction site logistics

The contract was awarded in autumn 2017 and construction of the new plant began one year later. It is located on the premises of Deutsche Bahn AG in Schwandorf, a railway location with a long history. The production of concrete turnout sleepers is thus an ideal complement to the site where turnouts have been manufactured for many years. Furthermore, the close proximity to the DB switch factory enables a better logistical supply of track construction sites.

 

PCM RAIL.ONE Hall 26 | 790

The new plant in Schwandorf
Photo: PCM RAIL.ONE AG