InnoTrans 2012: Original Air Springs Ensure Safety in Rail Transport
- Air spring replicas pose risks
- OEMs have been placing their trust in ContiTech for decades
- One-stop supplier for suspension comfort in trains
- Best in Service and Safety
Trains are the safest means of transport worldwide. One reason for this is the sophisticated technology that is used in the trains. However, in the meantime more and more air spring replicas that only look like the original are appearing on the market. "No two air springs brands are the same, even if they look the same," warns Friedrich Hoppmann, head of ContiTech's Railway Engineering segment. "The technical characteristics often do not meet requirements, which can lead to expensive failures and ultimately pose a threat to safety." For this reason, ContiTech is appearing under the slogan "Best in Service and Safety" at InnoTrans.
Over the past few decades, ContiTech has helped air springs make a global breakthrough in rail transport. Since then, the demand for replacement air springs has also been growing worldwide. More and more suppliers of replicas are forcing their way onto this market. However, it is often not until their products have been installed that their quality really becomes clear. "The replicas look like original air springs but offer no safety because the manufacturers frequently do not have a high level of experience," says Hoppmann. "When subjected to loads, the bellows then behave very differently to the original parts. By contrast, we only produce products in accordance with the specifications of the OEMs. This means that the customer only receives original quality, quality on which he can rely." ContiTech has more than 50 years' experience in development and production. This expertise starts at the development, calculation methods and compounds stage, and stretches right up to the production procedures and installation. "This experience cannot be reproduced," says Hoppmann.
Customer service in focus
In addition to the high level of safety offered by ContiTech products, service plays an important role for customers. This includes global availability of the products, the tight dealer and service network as well as customer-specific solutions. "Our global dealer network allows us to provide replacement parts rapidly for the purpose of repair work," says Andreas Hass, head of Sales at ContiTech Railway Engineering. ContiTech uses its own employees as well as dealers for this; together with their teams, they can react anywhere in the world within a very short space of time. The company is constantly expanding this network and regularly provides further training to engineers. "We are thoroughly satisfied with the quality and service provided by ContiTech. We and our customers can rely completely on the expertise of the engineers and service employees in particular. Working together with an original supplier strengthens us in the sensitive area of safety as it means we do not have to make any compromises," confirms Alexander Dreseler, managing director of Fahrzeug-Technik Hattingen. Together with Lex & Hesse Dresden, the company forms the leading corporate association SFT Service und Fahrzeugteile GmbH, and has been working closely with ContiTech for many years now. And ContiTech can also further strengthen its service quality with new partners such as the dealer ITT in the USA.
And the service goes even further than this: ContiTech provides customers with complete suspension construction kits, which contain all the components required for completely equipping bogies with suspension comfort. This makes the logistics much easier for the customer, and means that no components are ever found to be missing.
OEMs trust ContiTech
The company's experience built up over many decades and its far-reaching research and testing expertise constitute important reasons behind the rail transport industry relying on ContiTech's know-how. ContiTech has been involved in development partnerships with OEMs such as Bombardier, Siemens and Alstom for many years now. "ContiTech is becoming involved as a problem solver more and more often," says Andreas Hass, head of Sales at ContiTech Railway Engineering. "Higher speeds, less space between the bogie and the railcar body as well as increasing comfort requirements also have an effect on the design of the air spring bellows."
Thanks to production sites in the strategic rail markets, ContiTech can provide international customers with the same high quality anywhere in the world, while also meeting specific regional requirements. For example, air spring systems exposed to frigid Siberian temperatures must have completely different characteristics to those designed for mountain railways or for use in tropical climates - a level of expertise that suppliers of air spring replicas do not have.