• • • RAIL INDUSTRY • • •

What to consider with a rail project By Tristan Jackson, sales manager at Salamander Fabrications

will be tasked with obtaining a full suite of 2D and 3D electrical and engineering drawings. It’s their role to convert them into something that they know their business’s computer-aided design (CAD) systems can handle and therefore be able to complete work to a high specification. Automation could be the key for many modern- day engineers and is something that is setting businesses apart from their competitors. Making sure the right skills are available – and training is provided to staff where necessary – provides organisations with a greater knowledge of their technology’s capabilities. Additionally, automated systems can be programmed to produce a higher volume of material, at pace, and have its progress tracked – all of which would take much longer if organisations were manually operating machinery. This goes a long way towards offering customers the confidence to know their deadlines will be met, and to a high specification. Having such breadth of technological


ecuring an engineering contract to supply work for the rail industry provides organisations with a breadth of opportunity, a chance to generate new business leads, network with major leaders and provide security in terms of a company’s own growth ambitions.

Not only that, but such an intense body of work provides learning and development opportunities for employees who want to enhance their skillset to play a pivotal role in the engineering future of this vital sector. In addition, such a partnership means manufacturers can also plan ahead as to whether they require more experience on their own factory floor in order to bolster inhouse expertise. A key point to stress is that the rail industry is unique to many others in the way that it’s run – and challenges manufacturers to do a large amount of preparation before a tender is even submitted. For example, many large-scale projects – such as HS2 or London Underground – only accept proposals from businesses that are EN15085 accredited, meaning the tender pool is often highly competitive and concentrated in its nature.


However, as this piece suggests, once an agreement has been made this is where collaboration comes firmly into play. Here, each element of the work that has initially been proposed should be discussed between the contractor and rail customer – all the way from the first piece of design work to the production stage and eventual dispatch. This stage requires organisations to carry out a

complete and comprehensive feasibility review of the project in hand. That means ensuring materials can be manufactured within their


factory and tasks are able to be achieved within realistic timeframes – whether it’s a week-long job or a three-year-plus contract. Effective collaboration paves the way for these

discussions to take place in a seamless and partnership style approach. Open and honest dialogue between the customer and design and engineering departments enables such vital next steps can be agreed upon and adjusted where necessary. For example, meetings could be held to primarily focus on establishing the process for the more technical aspects of the project to take place – typically these are held between the technical manager and quality engineers – to make sure everything is fit for purpose.

What businesses and rail clients will want to work towards is the same end goal. And this can only be achieved if any potential pitfalls are ironed out early on and effective collaboration and communication is apparent throughout.


When thinking about what the technical department should expect from a live project, they

experience within a team can truly set a project apart from others, as well as result in repeat work – because the end product either meets or exceeds the brief. All of which is likely to bolster a company’s credibility thanks to positive word of mouth endorsement.

Throughout a product of this nature, health and safety is of paramount importance. Any engineering organisation or department worth its salt should have the necessary quality accreditations before they even step foot into this sector. And as well as ensuring materials are of a high-quality, they should also be traceable because if a piece is faulty, its origins must be identified quickly so that the error can be rectified immediately – before anyone is put in danger.


Although the above is a relative snapshot as to what organisations and their engineers must consider when managing a sector-specific project, these pointers should provide food for thought for businesses that are exploring rail production further. Because, when companies get it right, there are many industry benefits to enjoy. And when expanding on the advantages, the

longevity of such contracts empowers organisations to plan their order books well in advance, recruit accordingly, secure the business’s future, and provide that all-important competitive advantage.

It’s a truly exciting time to work within rail – a sector that is bursting with opportunity. Forward- thinking firms have the chance to collaborate with major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 companies that are building the future of public transport throughout the UK and beyond, something which – in this particular climate – is integral when driving towards company continuity and ambitious growth.


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