DB Systel has been supporting digitalisation at Deutsche Bahn for many years by developing in-house cross-business-unit services or integrating commercially available solutions into existing systems. But its diverse activities are concerned with more than just digital solutions: they also bring people together. This is apparent in vehicle maintenance, for example, where trains operated by DB Fernverkehr, DB Regio and DB Cargo are all serviced and made fit for the rail.
Although almost every business unit faces similar challenges when it comes to implementing digitalisation projects, until now there has been little contact between them. “One of the main problems was that knowledge was not always shared effectively, which led to redundancy and inefficiency,” says Tino Hoffmann, Head of Portfolio Management Data Solution Applications and a member of the core team responsible for the “Fahrzeuge instand halten” (“Maintaining vehicles”) value network. The goal of this network is to drive the digitalisation process forward in vehicle maintenance. However, the network does not include any customers yet. It is made up mainly of DB Systel employees who deal with topics related to vehicle maintenance, offer services and products or work in sales. “We have established that different customers face the same challenges,” says Tino Hoffmann. “This is why we are now taking the next step and getting the other Group companies involved as well.” The Starke Züge (Strong Trains) Community is open to all areas of the DB Group and so brings the various business units even closer together.
Nothing unites people more than a common challenge.
The initiators of the community have compiled a comprehensive package of measures designed to encourage employees to get involved. First of all, the Starke Züge (Strong Trains) Community page on DB Planet invites employees to find out basic information about topics, projects and solutions related to vehicle maintenance. The heart of the community is the discussion area where participants can talk about a variety of relevant issues. Each member of the community can also provide input. In the Starke Züge (Strong Trains) blog, articles and videos are published regularly and questions are answered by internal experts. The idea is to develop an ever-growing collection of expertise over time that makes the community the first point of contact for questions relating to vehicle maintenance.
In addition to the online activities, there is a particular focus on planning get-togethers to which interested parties from the whole Group who work in the area of maintenance are invited. In these “maintenance meetups”, participants from different areas of the company can share ideas and information directly, either on site or via video conferencing. The meetups also serve as a platform to share knowledge within the industry, with companies that offer exciting solutions or experience similar challenges, such as Lufthansa Industry Solutions.
A shared view of challenges
Daniela Martin, Value Network Facilitator in the “Fahrzeuge instand halten” (“Maintaining vehicles”) value network at DB Systel, is confident that the community will be well received. “Nothing unites people more than a common challenge. In this case, we need more trains.” Our current train capacity is not sufficient to carry more passengers in the future. However, having more trains also means a higher capacity utilisation at maintenance depots. A shared view of the challenges in vehicle maintenance and its IT systems is needed so that we can develop innovative services and products or identify digital solutions that are already in use in order to improve vehicle maintenance throughout the Group. “Our mission is to find solutions that work for several business units. Accordingly, we take a resource-saving approach and extract the maximum from a solution,” says Daniela Martin.
We provide an opportunity to exchange ideas that can be used by everyone on an equal footing.
The community is not primarily concerned with business interests; instead, it wants to provide an opportunity for different business units to share knowledge and experience in the area of vehicle maintenance more effectively. “We provide an opportunity to exchange ideas that can be used by everyone on an equal footing,” says Tino Hoffman. “But of course, we also see what is needed in the individual areas, which enables us to react much faster and offer suitable solutions for the benefit of our customers.” Although DB Systel is the driving force behind the technical implementation, every member of the community is responsible for the content, regardless of their business unit. “We are talking about allies,” says Daniela Martin. “Only together can the goal of a strong railway be achieved.” Above all, the community is not intended to be an exclusive meeting place for management. “With the community, we also create visibility for people who work directly in the maintenance environment. This is why we also want to bring depot staff on board to speak about the challenges they face in the depots.”
Everyone who takes an active part in the community ultimately contributes to improving vehicle availability. “And this is exactly what the name ‘Starke Züge’ (‘Strong Trains’) stands for,” says Tino Hoffmann. “Robust strong trains and optimised fast maintenance processes give our customers a better travel experience.” The community offers all members the perfect opportunity to share information transparently and limitlessly to achieve this goal. So, step on board and have a great journey.