Frauscher Poland: The secrets behind more than 20 years of success
Managing Director Andrzej Bartnik talked to us about Frauscher Poland, where he sees its future, and the achievements he is most proud of. Learn more!
On the occasion of the “European Year of Rail”, we’ve interviewed Andrzej Bartnik, Managing Director of Frauscher Polska, Frauscher’s first foreign office outside of Austria. Read on to find out what collaboration looks like during a global pandemic, Frauscher Polska’s greatest achievements, and his plans for the company’s future.
Frauscher Poland has been part of Frauscher’s global network of locations since 1998. That’s more than 20 years of close collaboration. How would you describe working with your colleagues in Austria and around the world? How frequently are you in touch?
Our collaboration couldn’t be better! Frauscher is like one big global family – but staying “in touch” definitely took on a whole new meaning during the current pandemic. Our communications have been limited to virtual meetings, and yet we’ve talked and “met up” even more frequently than before.
In this context, it’s worth mentioning how well Frauscher as a company handled these sudden changes. When the first lockdown was announced, everyone had to stay at home and work remotely. However, this transition to working from home went smoothly across the board and across all locations. This really proves that, as an innovative company, Frauscher was well prepared to deal with a situation that other companies might have perceived as a major challenge.
Nevertheless, I truly miss getting together with my colleagues from around the world. Before the pandemic, we always had a series of business meetings, combined with social activities at our headquarters in St. Marienkirchen or at other locations. In addition, all Managing Directors met three to four times a year to discuss the global strategy. I really hope these in-person meetings will be possible again soon. That said, they will likely be less frequent, and the virtual meetings are bound to stay with us in the future.
Poland has always been a crucial market for Frauscher since rail transport is an important part of the country’s overall transport system. Moreover, Poland has invested in various modernisation projects. What exactly distinguishes the Polish market from other countries?
For over 20 years, Poland has been an “axle counter country”. What do I mean by that? The tender documents for all projects – both for building new lines and the modernisation of existing ones – required using axle counters as the only train detection systems allowed. This explains Frauscher’s long-standing presence in Poland and why it is such an important market for us.
Due to its geopolitical location, Poland also plays a key role in the East-West and North-South communications corridor, which is largely based on railway transport. The EU funds support railways, and the 2014–2020 Financial Perspective provided the highest budget ever for the modernisation of Polish railways. The current one places a strong focus on railways, too.
Frauscher Poland has responded to the particularities and developments in the Polish market with a range of tailor-made solutions. What are they?
Frauscher supplies axle counters for various applications: interlocking systems, line block systems, level crossing systems, and more. Our customers can either use axle counter systems that provide information on track vacancy via relays or a software interface – or use only wheel sensors to build their own axle counting solutions. Thanks to this flexible approach, Frauscher is very often the preferred supplier of axle counters.
With innovative solutions and market-specific services, Frauscher Poland has gained a strong foothold in the Polish railway market. What are some of the achievements that you are especially proud of?
The history of Frauscher Poland is tightly interwoven with the milestones set by Frauscher Austria, for instance, the certification of the Axle Counter ACS2000 and the Wheel Sensor RSR180. Other milestones include the certification of the Wheel Sensor RSR123 as well as the certification of the Frauscher Advanced Counter FAdC in 2019. These are some of the successes we’re particularly proud of.
However, our greatest achievement is to always provide our customers with the best possible services and products. It is their satisfaction that drives us. And we are proud that Frauscher has become synonymous with high quality and reliability.
In 2015, ACS2000 axle counters were installed along Line II of the Warsaw metro system for the first time. What has happened since? Are you planning to further strengthen your position in the metro market?
After years of using track circuits on Line I, it was a tough decision for Metro Warsaw to switch the train detection system on Line II to axle counters. Fortunately, they chose to put their trust in Frauscher – and I’m sure they won’t regret it.
The high reliability and availability as well as the low maintenance requirements of Frauscher’s solution convinced Metro Warsaw to replace the track circuits on Line I with axle counters. The project was part of the modernisation of outdated signalling equipment. We are proud that Frauscher Axle Counters will soon be the only train detection system used by Metro Warsaw.
Our next challenge is the introduction of the FAdC with the Frauscher Safe Ethernet FSE protocol that will make integration with existing signalling systems even easier.
Which other projects are currently planned or in progress?
At the moment, we are working on projects using the FAdC with the serial interface FSE, as this interface provides our customers with lots of benefits and makes the application more cost-effective.
Frauscher has been active in Poland for over 20 years, and during this time many great projects were implemented. What are some of the most noteworthy ones and why?
For Frauscher Poland, each and every customer is valuable and important – whether they commission us with a project with only two sensors or one with 200 sensors. This makes it hard to point out the most important ones.
All new applications were a challenge for us – in the most positive sense of the word – and thus memorable. To name just a few:
- installations on main lines including CMK (Centralna Magistrala Kolejowa)
- installations for Metro Warsaw
- tram installations in Cracow
- integration with interlocking systems, line block systems and level crossing system
In your experience, what do you think characterises Frauscher solutions? Why should railway operators and system integrators put their trust in Frauscher?
Safety comes to mind first but that’s obvious and almost not worth mentioning, as all signalling systems have to meet safety requirements at SIL 4 level. We also offer our customers exceptionally high quality and reliable operation in all environmental conditions. Flexible solutions allow our customers to easily and safely change or extend the configuration themselves.
Having gathered experience from applications in over 100 countries and with more than 200 000 sensors installed to date, we can offer comprehensive support in all areas. We also pride ourselves in our fast response time to issues reported by customers as well as the short time between the placement of an order and its delivery.
What you should also know about Frauscher is that we maintain strong long-term partnerships with our customers. We certainly don't forget about them after we have been paid for delivery.
What are your plans and objectives for the future of Frauscher Polska?
The first and most important objective for Frauscher Polska is to maintain its strong position in the Polish market and to expand it in the long term. Some of our other goals include:
- popularising the Frauscher Advanced Counter FAdC, Frauscher Diagnostic System FDS and Frauscher Safe Ethernet FSE
- understanding the challenges of railway operators and system integrators and creating individual solutions in accordance with their requirements
- expanding the team by creating an R&D department based in Katowice
The latter is especially dear to my heart. My dream is to not only be the representative of Frauscher in Poland but to contribute to the development of new products and solutions.
Andrzej Bartnik has been Managing Director of Frauscher Polska Sp. z o.o. since September 2018. He holds a master’s degree in Electronics from the Technical University in Gliwice, Poland. For over 21 years, he worked in the research and development department at Bombardier – mainly in the area of axle counters. From 2012 to 2018, he held the position of manager there. Andrzej also participated in the CENELEC Working Group dealing with the establishment of EU standards for axle counters.