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Interview with Stefan Siegler, IRQB Chairman: Making quality your company’s competitive advantage

Posted: 28 September 2020 | | No comments yet

Stefan Siegler, Vice President Business Excellence and Quality Management at Siemens Mobility, has been re-elected as the Chairman of IRQB for the next two-year term. Ahead of his next term, he looks back at his first term, analyses the current state of affairs and reveals his plans for the future.

Making quality your company's competitive advantage IRQB

What do you consider the biggest successes of your first term as the Chairman of IRQB?

I was elected Chairman of the International Rail Quality Board (IRQB) for my first term just as this new consortium was being launched. Setting up this organisation as the only sector – and worldwide – quality group of rail companies can, by itself, be already considered an impactful success. It is a novel association, as we welcome operators, system integrations and component manufacturers from around the world with an aim to strive towards a high global culture of quality in rail. Offering this unique platform to all rail sector companies allows them to collaborate on quality-related issues in a manner that was not possible before.

Offering this unique platform to all rail sector companies allows them to collaborate on quality-related issues in a manner that was not possible before.”

I am also incredibly pleased to see that we have grown to 22 members in just two years. This kind of commitment from leading rail sector companies shows a dedication to quality and a wish to strive towards the highest standards.

Our work has also translated into an increased issuance of International Railway Industry Standard (IRIS) Certifications. It is reassuring to witness an increasing trust in IRIS Certification, propelling it to the forefront of rail certificates. Simultaneously, we have also iterated on the certification scheme itself – managing the successful transformation of IRIS V2 into V3.

Finally, we have developed and introduced new quality performance levels. Silver level certification was fully launched in September 2020 and Gold level is currently being tested. Quality performance levels are expected to build on IRIS’ esteemed reputation as trusted indicators for the quality performance of certified companies, enhancing the global culture of quality in rail.

What are your priorities for the next term?

First of all, I would like to thank the board members for trusting me to lead the work of IRQB for another two years. It is a great honour and I am very much looking forward to continuing this work in the future together with this great team.

For my next term, I want to focus on increasing IRQB’s membership and diversifying that membership to geographically and sectoral role. The aim is to further enhance this international, cross-sector cooperation in the field of quality and gain valuable input from new members that represent segments of the sector with whom we may not currently be sufficiently familiar with.

The aim is to further enhance this international, cross-sector cooperation in the field of quality and gain valuable input from new members…”

The IRIS Certification system has shown a significant, stable growth, with an increasing number of certified companies emerging every year. This process needs to continue to ensure the unanimous understanding of high quality in rail, as well as to reduce costs and the resources put into third-party audits.

To make that happen, I want to put focus on the IRIS Certification quality performance levels. This classification creates a further incentive for rail sector companies to strive towards higher quality standards pushing forward the global culture of quality in rail. We need to ensure the successful implementation of this new classification system and show its benefits to the whole supply chain. In September 2020, we launched the Silver quality performance level – creating, for the first-time, a differentiation between awarded certificates. This work will be carried on throughout 2020 and 2021, ahead of the launch of IRIS’s highest performance level – Gold – in autumn 2021.

My focus during the next term will also be on moving the ISO/TS 22163 standard into a full ISO standard. This is an important milestone, providing the sector with a uniform business management system standard for years to come. It is important to find synergies with other rail certification schemes, such as the ECM, to maximise the synergies of the different rail-related certifications and, by this, reduce the effort for certification.

Finally, I want to increase the outreach of the IRIS Certification scheme through reducing the paperwork that comes with it. This will make the administrative part of the scheme less complex and more easily manageable.

What has the coronavirus crisis taught us about the importance of rail quality?

A focus on quality helps companies to enhance their effectiveness, competitiveness and attractiveness…”

Quality is now more important than ever. Focus on high quality business management systems means following the best practices developed by the rail sector’s champions from all around the world and the sector, which has been gathered into the IRIS Certification scheme. A focus on quality helps companies to enhance their effectiveness, competitiveness and attractiveness and, at the same time, reducing costs and resources. These developments make quality a valuable tool for overcoming the crisis.

It is my utmost pleasure to see that, even during this time of crisis, the rail sector has been able to join forces and work together. In just a few months, IRQB members were able to develop the remote audit procedure that is crucial for ensuring business continuity during these troubled times.

What is the growing importance of IRQB?

IRQB offers a unique exchange platform, gathering expertise from all across the world and the sector; it sets an example of world- and sector- wide cooperation in rail. Having all 22 members contributing to the development of IRIS Certification makes the scheme trusted and valued throughout the value chain and gives all rail sector parties a mutual understanding of quality.

The opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices increases trust between all sector stakeholders…”

Our focus is to enhance quality throughout the whole supply chain, bringing benefits to all involved parties – including the end user. This is helping to push rail to the forefront of our daily mobility usage, which is crucial to meeting the challenges of transport decarbonisation and climate change.

Finally, we cannot forget the individual benefits that IRQB brings to our members and working group participants. The opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices increases trust between all sector stakeholders and allows members to take fresh ideas back to their companies.

What is your message to companies that are not yet IRIS-certified?

I encourage companies to explore how IRIS methodology can improve their business’ performance and customer relationships. We should not be asking “What forces me to be certified?” but, rather, “How can I improve my business performance through following the sector’s best quality practices?”. The IRIS Certification scheme is a tool which allows your company to reach its objectives. Let the IRIS Certification scheme be your company’s competitive advantage!

 By employing IRIS Certification throughout the sector, we can bring benefits to the entire supply chain – including the end user…”

IRIS Certification is a tool to improve your company’s efficiency and competitiveness, but that also saves you money and resources by not having to conduct multiple third-party audits or developing company-specific standards. In addition, it helps to make your quality performance measurable through getting a confirmation of your company’s quality performance that you can then share with your customers as a proof of quality in your company. IRIS Certification allows companies to advance their quality performance by conducting business-focussed internal audits using the IRIS Audit-Tool.

It is also important to look at the bigger picture: By employing IRIS Certification throughout the sector, we can bring benefits to the entire supply chain – including the end user – improving our daily mobility and moving it towards more sustainable means of transportation.

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