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Innovation – a major sucess factor for future product developments within Bombardier Transportation Bogie Business Unit

Posted: 31 May 2011 | | No comments yet

Since the 1930s, the rolling stock industry lost its role as ‘technology and innovation driver’ which it held for a century from the 1830s to 1930s, to the aircraft and automotive industry. Today, the railway industry is perceived as a ‘technology follower’ rather than a ‘technology driver’.

In addition, a reduction of the prices for rolling stock can be observed since the mid-90s starting with the liberalisation of the operator and rolling stock builder’s market.

The expectation from our customers for further cost reductions cannot always be fulfilled with design to cost, production improvement and global sourcing activities.

Since the 1930s, the rolling stock industry lost its role as ‘technology and innovation driver’ which it held for a century from the 1830s to 1930s, to the aircraft and automotive industry. Today, the railway industry is perceived as a ‘technology follower’ rather than a ‘technology driver’. In addition, a reduction of the prices for rolling stock can be observed since the mid-90s starting with the liberalisation of the operator and rolling stock builder’s market. The expectation from our customers for further cost reductions cannot always be fulfilled with design to cost, production improvement and global sourcing activities.

Since the 1930s, the rolling stock industry lost its role as ‘technology and innovation driver’ which it held for a century from the 1830s to 1930s, to the aircraft and automotive industry. Today, the railway industry is perceived as a ‘technology follower’ rather than a ‘technology driver’.

In addition, a reduction of the prices for rolling stock can be observed since the mid-90s starting with the liberalisation of the operator and rolling stock builder’s market.

The expectation from our customers for further cost reductions cannot always be fulfilled with design to cost, production improvement and global sourcing activities.

Over the last 10 years, more-and-more low cost suppliers in Asian countries have systematically improved their capabilities to produce state-of-the-art rolling stock at a reduced cost (for example Korea and China).

The major differentiator to these new competitors and to our established European competitors will not only be the price, but also the technical capabilities and performances of our bogie products and their features. Bogies have to offer operators and final customers added value such as commercial advantages, performance and comfort improvements.

This is why Bombardier Transportation established a global innovation initiative starting in 2008.

The Bogie Business Unit of Bombardier Transportation was involved from the start of this Bombardier Innovation Campaign.

This article describes what the innovation process looks like within Bombardier Transportation and its Bogie Business Unit and how based on this, Bombardier Bogie Business Unit develops and offers a portfolio of new innovative and proven solutions and is prepared to investigate and implement new technical features into its future bogie products. In addition, examples of innovative bogie solutions and future focus areas are described.

Processes

Bombardier Transportation utilises a defined step-by-step workflow to develop, implement and deploy its integrated business processes (see Figure 1 on page 61) – the graphic below each phase of Bombardier Transportation products and services delivery process is further detailed into sub-phases with defined purposes and related milestones.

Innovation Process

Key factors of Bombardier’s successful innovation culture are strong gatekeepers, disciplined processes, and high maturity standards at the start of technology introduction. The innovation process, as such, contains only a few steps within the Bombardier bogie development process. It is an integral part of the P-Dev (Product Development, R&D) process.

Ideation

In this process, step ideas from the Bogie Business Unit employees are requested by using dedicated ‘topics’ = ‘campaigns’ to receive proposals. Topics are normally defined by the management, bearing in mind a strategic need or solving a problem.

Idea collection

All ideas are collected according to their topic/focus area and other characteristics. Figure 3 on page 62 shows the ideas received and their status at year end, telling in which phase of the innovation process the ideas are.

Assessment (Idea ‘Selection’)

Aligned with the previously mentioned ‘idea collection’, a step to process the criteria for assessing the generated innovative ideas has been implemented (‘Idea Selection’). This allows us to assess proposed ideas from our people in an objective and practical manner:

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Sustainability of Success
  • Risk
  • Simplification
  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Improvement Potential
  • Innovativeness
  • ‘Cool factor’
  • Intellectual Property
  • Environmental Impact

Innovation Case

Based on the result of the assessment and of known or expected market trends, an ‘Innovation Case’ will be carried out. Due to the early stage of the investigation and, very often, missing detailed market and commercial information, it should not be understood as a detailed business case. Decision After collecting the most promising proposals and presenting them to the management and product management, Bombardier Bogies decides which proposals should be taken further, based on the collection of more detailed market and commercial information than what was collected during the ‘Innovation Case’.

Rating of ideas by Technology Readiness Level

During our development process the ideas will reach a dedicated state of maturity, which will enable us to decide whether to offer the solution or to further investigate it.

To ensure a maturity of our innovative products and solutions, we are using the concept of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). This concept was developed by NASA in the 1980s to assess technologies. Nowadays, numerous companies use this concept to assess the maturity of evolving technologies and ideas. The TRLs are measured along a scale from one to nine, starting with paper studies on basic concepts and ending with technologies that have proven themselves on actual used products.

The concept of technology readiness is a systematic measurement system that facilitates the assessment of the maturity of technologies and ideas, enabling a consistent comparison between different technologies.

The clear view on the maturity of technologies/ideas improves control over cost and schedule of development programmes. Furthermore, the maturity of a technology/idea is an important indicator for the risk involved.

The following TRLs are common practice:

1. Basic principles observed and reported

2. Technology concept and/or application formulated

3. Analytical & experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept

4. Component validation in laboratory environment

5. Component validation in relevant environment

6. System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment

7. System prototype in railway environment

8. Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration

9. Actual system considered as proven design through successful operation.

The primary purpose of the TRLs is to support management in decision making on development and application technologies. Advantages which can be seen by this include:

  • Common understanding of technology status
  • Management of development risks
  • Support decisions on funding
  • Support decisions on technology application.

Examples of innovation at BT Bogie Division

BOMBARDIER FLEXX Eco

Radically designed ahead of its time, the FLEXX Eco bogie was developed to bring significant performance improvements to UK commuter rolling stock. This is the lightest bogie in the world with similar high performance, having more than 10 years track record of reliability gained over 1.5 billion fleet kilometers. Eighthundred and fifty FLEXX Eco bogies operate daily on UK fleets as well as in Norway. Incorporated within the latest BOMBARDIER AVENTRA train from Bombardier, FLEXX Eco has proven capability to provide 20% reduced train mass and reduced maintenance over existing UK rolling stock in service, creating significant reductions in wheel, track and component wear. The FLEXX Eco bogie will have a dedicated version for the trailer cars of the new German ICx trains, reducing train weight with 15 tonnes, and offering the opportunity of aerodynamic improvements by covering the bogie.

Mechatronic Systems

Bombardier Bogie Business Unit developed a modular mechatronics platform with standard components which represents a major advantage in terms of maintenance and costs. These applications can be applied to any FLEXX bogies:

  • FLEXX Tronic ARS: active radial steering and stability control
  • FLEXX Tronic Wako: roll movement compensation
  • FLEXX Guide: bogie condition monitoring
  • FLEXX Track: track condition monitoring

FLEXX Tronic ARS

This is a system for active steering of the wheel sets as well as for stability control of the bogie. The system has been tested in the framework of the Gröna Taget project in Sweden in a REGINA train, certified according to UIC for 200km/h. The system is optional for Bombardier’s double-deck EMU’s TWINDEXX trains for SBB, and currently under evaluation in Switzerland.

FLEXX Tronic WAKO

This is an innovative system for the compensation of the natural roll movement of a carbody, integrated into the existing secondary suspension. The system allows a speed increase in curves of ~15% and therefore allows for shorter journey times with lower investment in infrastructure.

FLEXX Tronic WAKO SBB1

Our FLEXX Compact Bogie platform is one of the game changers of the SBB-awarded contract for Bombardier’s double-deck EMU’s TWINDEXX, which enables a slight tilt (up to 2°) with a lateral movement of the carbody in a parallel position.

FLEXX Track

This is a sensor-based measurement system which is designed to monitor track conditions and evaluate their deterioration over time. It can also be installed on existing series vehicles and the data acquisition is active during normal operation.

The information obtained thanks to the FLEXX Track system is used to identify and locate the specific track disturbances. FLEXX Track not only facilitates the maintenance of the tracks but also enables anticipation of the impact of track irregularities on the bogie frames. It is designed as a modular system and can be configured for various measurement requirements. The results can be compared with the requirements given by the relevant standards like TSI, UIC, EN. The FLEXX Track system can be accessed by the users via internet, intranet or e-mail. Standard track reports can be downloaded from the website or sent via e-mail. The results are visualised in tabular form and graphical views including an evaluation of the track status (according to the adequate standards).

FLEXX Guide

This is a system dedicated to facilitate condition bases maintenance. Innovative powerful algorithms provide the detection of damages, wear as well as decoration of components. Data can be accessed similarly as with FLEXX Track.

Future Innovations: potential focus areas

Bombardier Bogie Business Unit expects our customers to require improvements, solutions and products in the following main areas:

  • Reduced Maintenance
  • Reduced Track Damage
  • Reduced Environmental Impact
  • Reduced Fault Bogie.

Bombardier Bogie Business Unit is not only looking for incremental improvements of the actual technologies, processes or business models, but also wants to challenge its employees to think out of the box and come up with new (and sometimes surprising) proposals/solutions.

This could either be done by technical solutions on component level, overall products, processes or business models.

The aforementioned areas of interest are part of a product development process starting with the vision itself, collecting innovation proposals, implementing them into the regular research and development and finally implementing them in our Product Platform Portfolio serving light-rail vehicles, metros, mainlines, highspeed and locomotive markets.

Reduced maintenance

Internal investigations using maintenance models clearly showed that the amount of regular maintenance (cumulated material + labour costs) can reach 70% of the new build costs after eight years. Brake pads, disk wheels and bearings are components which mostly influence the cost here.

These components reached their end of lifetime by wear (track condition, mileage etc) or ageing (e.g rubber/metal elements, oils). Considering these well known facts there are several directions for minimising bogie maintenance, including:

  • Further systematic extension of the lifetime of components
  • Further harmonisation of lifetimes and maintenance activities
  • Identifying life time restrictions and maintenance intensive technical details and eliminate them
  • Ease of maintenance and exchange of parts
  • Change of the maintenance process and activities.

We are also looking in other areas of maintenance and its best practices in the aircraft, car or truck industry. First internal workshops have been held to generate ideas. According to our Innovation Process they will be assessed, investigated, validated and then implemented in our FLEXX Bogie Portfolio.

Reduced track damage

Increasing attention is expected for the infrastructure. Track wear and infrastructure damage is mainly caused by:

  • Axle loads, unsprung mass
  • Running performance (curves)
  • Accelerating/braking
  • Material pairing of wheel and track.

Reduced environmental impact

This is an important factor and includes:

  • Noise (running noise, curve and brake squeal)
  • Utilisation of prohibited or restricted materials (e.g. Chromium 6, etc.)
  • Carbon dioxide footprint (production, as well as operations and disassembling/ recycling).

Reduced fault bogie

This is an important factor and includes:

  • Fail safe solutions of critical components, failure tolerant solutions
  • Condition bases maintenance features
  • Designed for manufacturing.

Summary

At Bombardier, we established a steady gated workflow to process innovations, supporting us in securing our future market position. All innovations take the same path and pass the same gates. We consider our customer and also our business needs. The innovations are driven by market developments (technology pull) as well as internal developments (technology push). Recent results as well as future innovation areas have been presented. Implementation of the innovations can take place in new products as well as retrofitted into existing products. Our focus is not limited only to hardware, but also targets aspects such as people, processes and business models, the complete innovation environment of our core competence and expertise, our FLEXX Bogies.

BOMBARDIER, AVENTRA, TWINDEXX, WAKO and FLEXX are trademarks of Bombardier Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Reference

1. Published article in Global Railway Review Issue 3 2010 Page 68 – author: Richard Schneider, Vice-President of Product Engineering Integrity, Bombardier Transportation. To order a back issue copy, please contact Karen Hutchinson at: [email protected]

 

About the Author

Between 1980 and 1985, Markus Dengler studied Mechanical Engineering at Ruhr University Bochum in West Germany. Mr. Dengler’s career has seen him take posts such as, among others, Structural Design and Material Specialist at Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH, Director of System Engineering at Bombardier Transportation and Director of the Portfolio Management and Strategy in the Passengers Division of Bombardier Transportation. Since 2004, Mr. Dengler has been the Director of Standardisation, R&D and Innovation Management in the Bogie Business Unit of Figure 7 Overview of FLEXX Track and FLEXX Guide Bombardier Transportation.

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