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Railway Forum 2016: A focus on digitalization

The Railway Forum organized by IPM opened its doors for the fourth time on February 29. SupplyOn once again set up a booth at the event. And many other things were the same as well: Factory tours provided by well-known companies in the rail industry on Monday morning, myriad opportunities to talk and network with industry experts and an interesting dinner speech by Dr. Volker Kefer, the Vice Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, before the guests converged on the excellent buffet.

But the event offered something new as well: For the first time, a conference app enabled visitors to connect with fellow conference-goers online, evaluate workshops and learn about upcoming talks. The number of people attending the gathering rose sharply as well – with the organizer reporting approximately 700 guests. This also markedly increased the opportunities to speak with interesting individuals in the exhibition area. Visitors who didn’t make it in time to find a seat had to stand to listen to some of the talks.

„Globalizing Railway Supply Chains“

The theme of this year’s event was “Globalizing Railway Supply Chains: Potential – Strategies – Solutions.” One central theme during the two-day event was digitalization on all levels. Speeches aimed at all conference attendees covered topics like “The launch of the Digital Age” and “How the Internet of Things Is Changing Entire Industries” as well as “Digitalization of the Rail Industry” – to name just a few.

Dr. Rüdiger Grube, the Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, thinks digitalization will be the main driving force of the 21st century. Deutsche Bahn is addressing this revolution in several hundred digitalization projects that range from an array of app developments and electronic supplier onboarding to the increased use of 3D printing.

Gerhard Kress, the director of Mobility Data Services at Siemens AG, talked about the Madrid – Barcelona train line to show how electronic monitoring of trains could be used to prevent extensive disruptions of regular service and how passenger totals could be boosted significantly as a result: In 2008, only 30 percent of travelers chose the train as their preferred mode of transportation on this route. By 2015, the Spain rail service Renfe had gained a market share of 80 percent.

Focus on supplier management

Digitalization of the supply chain was the key topic addressed in a roundtable discussion on supplier management in which high-ranking members of Deutsche Bahn joined the CEO of SupplyOn to answer questions posed by a small group of suppliers: How will digitalization be carried out in practice? Which role will SupplyOn play in this regard? How do we address suppliers’ desire for a collaborative working relationship?

Deutsche Bahn, Bombardier Transportation and Siemens Mobility are already making significant strides in digitalization with the help of SupplyOn. Under the motto “Register Now,” rail-industry suppliers were offered the opportunity to learn first-hand about the benefits of electronic collaboration provided by SupplyOn RailSupply and to register for onboarding with one or more of these companies. Members of these companies also visited SupplyOn’s booth to engage in detailed conversations with visitors about the topic.

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