Three years of Frauscher USA: A look back - and beyond
Frauscher has had an active presence in North America for three years now. Vivek Caroli, Managing Director Frauscher Sensor Technology USA Inc. takes a look back – and forward.
In three years of operations for Frauscher USA, what are the highlights?
There have been quite a few. But the most comprehensive answer would be that in a short time, we have successfully achieved positive recognition of the company and our products within the US and North American railroad markets. It is no secret that when Frauscher arrived in the US, axle counters and wheel sensors were not the systems of choice in this part of the world. We took the time to learn our customers’ needs in detail. We answered their questions and provided them the opportunity to test our products. Thereby, we were able to convince various experts throughout the industry of the significant advantages of our solutions. This led to successful installations early on, including major improvement projects implemented in Houston, Baltimore and the Whittier Tunnel in Alaska.
In your opinion, what were the most important factors for this success?
Frauscher had been pursuing an intensive and global growth strategy for more than a decade and the time was right in 2015 to open a location in the US. It has been important to employ individuals who know the North American rail industry, and who are able to speak the customer's language – especially because this market has its own unique issues and requirements as compared to the rest of the world. Once we had the opportunity to demonstrate our products and the ability to easily tailor solutions to our customers’ specific requirements, we were given the go ahead to implement our systems in live applications. These successful installations demonstrated the benefits of our systems, as well as the hands on assistance that we offer to our customers. It has also been to our advantage that we stock and distribute products from our warehouse in NJ.
You mention North America – are there other locations outside the US?
Since mid-2018, an Austrian colleague has represented Frauscher from an office in Toronto. He is in close contact with various operators and system integrators throughout Canada. This local presence has opened many doors for Frauscher, and we look forward to the opportunity to provide our solutions within this vast marketplace. As a result, we can extend to Canada the Frauscher principle of always remaining "in touch".
What strategy will Frauscher North America pursue in the future?
To continue getting to know our customers and their needs and to always have a solution- based approach; these are two of our most important principles. To increase our breadth of knowledge, colleagues from other Frauscher locations, such as Frauscher UK, work in our US office. We also receive personnel support from Austria, where the largest location of the company is located. Utilizing their experience and global perspective, my team will continue to learn and gain understanding of customer requirements, and use practical experience to provide innovative and reliable solutions. We will continue to maintain an open dialogue with Frauscher Product Management to discuss our suggestions regarding product changes or additions that would be beneficial to the North American railroad industry.
So, Frauscher products are made specifically for the market?
They are adapted to the requirements of the market. Frauscher wheel sensors are highly reliable and so robust that they are highly available even under the most adverse environmental and track conditions. The electronics used for wheel detection and axle counting are of modular design. Depending on the application and requirements, different solutions can be created. If necessary, new products can be developed.
Is there an example?
The RSR110 wheel sensor was developed, among other things, specifically for the North American market. Special requirements for hump yards – where the RSR110 was used to replace existing devices – presented the initial need. Detailed specifications were taken into account in the development of the RSR110, which is now a fixed component of the Frauscher portfolio. The clear advantage of this sensor is that the evaluation of the sensor signal is left to the system integrator or operator. Depending on the application and project requirements, it can be designed to integrate seamlessly with the operator’s existing equipment. We also offer a Wheel Signal Converter WSC, which supports the digitization of the signal. Today, the sensor is used in various installations around the globe.
Are further market-specific products already planned?
The new SENSiS system from Frauscher was presented at InnoTrans 2018 in Berlin. It includes a new sensor, the SENSiS Detection Point SDP, which works like an intelligent device on track. It reliably detects trains and collects additional data on acceleration and temperature. It evaluates the signals directly on track and makes them available via a digital interface. The data is transmitted to the SENSiS Processing Unit SPU in the indoor system via a specifically developed bus system. This unit forms a data hub that transmits axle counting data and other information to higher-level systems. This new system holds immense potential for global rail markets - and also for those in North America. Initial tests in hump yards and flat yards are already in the planning stages.
Tip: How the new SENSiS system works and what the SENSiS Detection point can do in detail can be read here.
The year 2018 is drawing to a close – what is your summary and where is the journey heading now?
We will continue to seize the many opportunities to talk to existing and new customers, which is one of the many reasons why Frauscher commanded such a large presence at InnoTrans 2018. Various trade shows and conferences will continue to offer occasions for this in 2019. We are currently working on a series of new projects, and our team will continue to grow. We will also continue to expand our customer training programs in North America, allowing our customers to be trained on their own equipment at their location. In short, we have many plans for the future - and are looking forward to implementing them!