The fifth Railway Forum was held in Berlin on August 30/31. Once again, the focus was on the digital transformation that is taking place at all levels.
This year’s motto was: ‘Competitiveness 2015: The innovation agenda of the mobility industry’. Just a few years ago, this trade fair was the ‘little sister of the InnoTrans’. Dr. Richard Lutz, CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, aptly pointed this out during his dinner speech. Now, with over 1,000 participants and 135 exhibitors, it has become a veritable supplier conference for the railway industry.
Key topic “Digital Transformation”
One of the main topics of discussion was digitalized supplier management. This was brought up several times in keynotes on the first day of the event. It was also a central theme in a roundtable talk attended by many high-ranking figures. Eight experts on the subject answered suppliers’ questions, including the CPO of Deutsche Bahn AG, Uwe Günther. He emphasized what an important role digitalization of the supply chain plays for the DB by turning supply chain data into meaningful information to facilitate decision making. He also expressed that SupplyOn is one of the partners with whom digitalization should be driven forward.
Ralf Lüthi, Head of Procurement for General Requirements and Services at DB, declared that the goal for the next two years is to completely scrap paper-based processes within Procurement. He believes the entire procurement volume of 20-25 billion Euros per year has to be digitalized. Deutsche Bahn is taking a pragmatic approach in this respect, pointed out Dr. Torsten Latz, Head of Procurement for Infrastructure. He is targeting quick penetration, focusing on significant business processes and relying on existing solutions to digitalize existing processes.
RailSupply creates the conditions for Industry 4.0
What this looks like in reality and what potential this holds for the future was outlined by Markus Quicken, CEO of SupplyOn, based on the RailSupply solution. Even though only basic processes like orders and order confirmations are currently being digitalized, this will lay the groundwork for the Industry 4.0 concepts of tomorrow. In future, this ‘electronic superhighway’ will be used to exchange sensor data to further optimize the traceability of components. This is a major opportunity for suppliers to move towards digitizing important business processes.
The RailSupply initiative was inaugurated at the first Railway Forum four years ago. The goal was to increase security of supply by creating more transparency in the supply chain. This would reduce the risk of delivery delays and bottlenecks. Bombardier and Siemens were already on board back then to help create a solution with benefits for the entire industry. They achieved their goal. Today, several European rail operators and globally active system integrators, along with their suppliers, rely on this industry standard.
The conversations at this year’s SupplyOn booth demonstrated once again how much a common, standardized solution is valued and needed.
André Truszkowski-Jonas, who works for Siemens Mobility, believes standards are the most important issue. For him, it doesn’t really matter which standards the industry agrees upon, as long as it agrees. He sees SupplyOn as one of the pioneering companies to provide the undertaking with form and structure and to support different industries to agree upon standardized processes and formats.
Active risk management awarded with sustainability prize
One of the highlights of the Railway Forum is the Gala Dinner held at the end of the first day. This year, it was dedicated to presenting the ‘Railsponsible Awards’ relating to the theme of sustainability. The happy recipients of the award: The Harting Technology company, suppliers of intelligent connectivity technology. One main reason that they were among the top candidates was their active commitment to risk management on all levels. This was a very important criterion for DB in selecting and evaluating the business partners.
Next stop: 2019
After being held on an annual basis up until now, the Railway Forum will now be held every two years. It will therefore alternate with the Innotrans event, which also takes place every two years. It is now the most important conference for SupplyOn for promoting the RailSupply Initiative to the advantage of the entire industry. We are already looking forward to 2019 and the next level of innovation in digital transformation.