Although most good ideas stand out because they are simple, that doesn’t mean they aren’t the result of a huge amount of effort. A good example of this is a new future-proof modular concept developed by Siemens Locomotives and Components. Although outwardly simple, the concept was the result of innumerable in-depth discussions with engineers, customers, buyers, and suppliers. The company’s goal was to use the experience it had gained with the well-known Eurosprinter locomotive family to create an electric locomotive that could be manufactured more cost efficiently than previous models while offering the same or improved functionality.
Siemens also wanted to fill gaps in its lineup of purely AC and DC locomotives and substantially increase the system’s versatility for customers. New standards had to be taken into consideration as well. Interdisciplinary teams and supplier workshops enabled the new idea to mature. The result was the Vectron all-purpose locomotive, which, according to Ulrich Fösel, a product manager at Siemens’ locomotive unit, sets Siemens apart from the competition: “The Vectron concept,” he says, “combines large-scale production with the ability to make individual customizations.”
In concrete terms, this means that Siemens’ plants in Munich and Graz, Austria, can produce frames, driver’s cabs, vehicle bodies, chassis, and bogies for stockpiling on a continuous basis. This ensures that production capacity is sufficiently exploited in the fluctuating locomotive business. Each component has a specific area within the locomotive’s machinery compartment, which is individually equipped as soon as a customer places an order.
Customers can change orders as little as six months before delivery. Not only can they change train control systems and extras such as rearview cameras and country-specific pantographs, they can also alter basic features such as the power system and the locomotive's output.