Source: Knorr-Bremse announcement

BERLIN — Knorr-Bremse has expanded its Berlin plant by adding nine large machining centers for the manufacture of brake discs for train braking systems. The commissioning of the ninth center in January 2022 concludes a program of investment in manufacturing technology that was launched in 2019 and saw three brake disc production facilities come onstream in 2021 alone.

Dr. Nicolas Lange, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems, underlined the project’s relevance: “Making this forward-looking, broad-based investment puts us in a position to significantly increase our brake disc production capacity, boost our productivity, and thus manufacture competitively with best-cost countries.

“The substantially increased output will also enable us to reliably meet rising demand as a dependable partner to our customers. Our investment decision strengthens our manufacturing resources in Berlin and will help sustain and develop fast, safe, efficient mobility on rail networks.”

The expansion project’s tangible benefits for customers are also clear to Andre Janis, who heads the Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems Berlin plant who said, “Just the three machining centers we brought onstream in 2021 have already enabled Knorr-Bremse to considerably reduce average delivery times for brake discs. What’s more, this additional capacity means that Knorr-Bremse can now offer customers even higher levels of flexibility and adaptability when fitting out their train fleets.”

The new machine tools are capable of the highest possible speed and versatility – the new end-to-end machining capacity means production teams can now combine multiple operations, reducing production times. All maintenance and set-up periods run in parallel, so they do not impact output, and the systems are also capable of rapidly switching from one type of brake disc to another – for example from brake discs for high-speed trains to brake discs for metro trains.

The investment project that would eventually result in nine machining centers and new jobs for 27 skilled workers was launched back in 2019. A total of five centers came onstream in 2019 and 2020, followed by another three machining centers in the summer and autumn of 2021. The ninth and – for the time being – last center will go into operation in January 2022.

The centers’ enhanced output has already borne fruit in deliveries for one of Knorr-Bremse’s major customers. The customer reported low stocks of brake discs, posing a serious risk of vehicle downtime. But thanks to the new production capacity, Knorr-Bremse was able to respond with appropriate flexibility, supplying roughly a thousand brake discs in a very limited timeframe.

“Thanks to high-speed machining and production, and by optimizing and bringing forward the delivery dates, Knorr-Bremse was able to make a major contribution to ensuring that trains continued to operate on schedule,” concluded Janis.