FleetShield expands focus with advisory role, enhancing efficiency for train manufacturers
FleetShield, a company specialising in film applications and wrapping of rolling stock, is changing course to take on an advisory role for manufacturers and railway operators. “We realised guidance for engineering departments is important, and thinking along in the process can save material and time”, says Jeroen van Son, managing director of FleetShield.
When thinking about manufacturing and maintaining trains, trams and other rolling stock, the outmost layer protecting the train from wear and tear, damage and graffiti is not the first thing many people think of. It is also not something about which many professionals working at railway operators or rolling stock manufacturers have extensive know-how.
FleetShield, based in the Netherlands, is a firm that specialises in this field. Wrapping rolling stock in film instead of spray painting the exterior can have advantages. Applying it is typically much faster than painting: it takes one to three days, while spray painting a whole train can take 4 to 6 weeks, says Jeroen Van Son. “This leads to 30 to 50 per cent less downtime. The faster a trainset for which a new exterior look is done can be finished, the earlier it can go back into service. In some of our refurbishment projects, we actually have an ‘old style’ train (Double- deck-3 cars) that is prepared for foil and wrapped in less than 2 weeks.”
In Europe, there are a lot of sign-making companies dealing with some type of foil application, but as soon as it comes to rail it is a different story, says Van Son. “It is not just like wrapping a car or making a text on a shop window. For example, fire standards play a big role in rail. As a specialist in this field, we have done a lot ourselves in the past 20 years”.
Now, the company, which is active in six European countries, is expanding its focus on taking on an advisory role. “We see that manufacturers of rolling stock equipment are completely (over)loaded with work. There are more than 35 billion euros in different orders outstanding at manufacturers today. Our focus will increasingly move in the direction of rolling stock manufacturers and operators to help with their process. For example, we can assist operators in drawing up foil-related specifications for tenders to make or produce new equipment. At the same time, we can assist rolling stock OEM with the right translation of specs and/or implementation of foil within their production process.”
I spoke to the head of an engineering department of a manufacturer recently, and the biggest challenge is to get the work done, there are so many orders and just a limited number of hands. With all the parts like the flooring, cabling and interior, the process with foil is often a bit further away from their comfort zone, and we can help with that. We can also do a lot remotely.”
“I noticed that a lot of customers don’t realise in the beginning what you have to take into account. At a certain point, we started running projects where we noticed that the guidance of engineering departments is important, and how big the need is to be assisted in this. The sooner in the process we are involved, the more we can contribute. For example, saving 1 or 2 paint layers, which not only saves weight but also process steps.“
Thinking along in the process
According to Norman Brandsma, Senior Production Engineer at NS, a major advantage of working with Fleetshield is the specialist’s ability to think along. “Especially in the beginning, when you are still looking for the best way to protect equipment, that is nice. For example, Fleetshield looked into the cutting possibilities of the anti-graffiti film for us. That is how they managed to get the cutting loss to a minimum. They also advised us to use a flexible foil for the heads of trains, so that these too could be plastered nice and tight.”
Brandsma works on modernising ageing trains at the Dutch railways. “We strip them and give them a new coat of preservation so that they can last another 18 years.” Norman explains: “If you opt for anti-graffiti film, the sprayed preservative layer is needed as a base to prevent rusting. So you get an extra layer on the train,” Brandsma explains. “But thanks to the foil, we can do away with a coat of paint and the clearcoat topcoat away.”
“When preserving a train with protective film, good cooperation with the supplier is important”, said Brandsma. The preservation layer must be dry enough, otherwise, the paint will evaporate under the foil, which can cause air bubbles. But the shorter you have to fire the paint to dry properly, the faster the process can continue.” According to the NS engineer, Fleetshield can help rail companies find the optimum balance in that.
After the advisory role, the customer can always choose whether to outsource everything or parts. “We can look if we do it ourselves, or have it executed locally but with us take the lead”, says Van Son.
Rob Zomerdijk, contract manager of Amsterdam public transport company GVB can affirm this. “Fleetshield is a true chain specialist. They help you make smart choices, when writing a market consultation, for example. They know the processes at rail companies and think along with you from there. Moreover, they know better than anyone what is on offer in the market.”
All the possibilities FleetShield offers can be found on the new website