CZ/SK verze

Behind the Scenes of Innovation: Siemens Mobility Reveals the Production Process of the Revolutionary ComfortJet for Czech Railways

Behind the Scenes of Innovation: Siemens Mobility Reveals the Production Process of the Revolutionary ComfortJet for Czech Railways
photo: RAILTARGET/Behind the Scenes of Innovation: Siemens Mobility Reveals the Production Process of the Revolutionary ComfortJet for Czech Railways
30 / 05 / 2023

Siemens Mobility's Vienna plant held an exclusive tour of the production process of the new ComfortJets for Czech Railways, which we couldn't miss. These innovative trainsets promise a greener and more comfortable long-distance journey. Thanks to modern technology and the involvement of robots, production has been greatly innovated, increasing the durability of the cars and the safety of the entire journey. The emphasis on quality, aerodynamics and modern technology guarantees the high standard of the new ComfortJets. And how does the car production process work?

On Wednesday, the Siemens Mobility plant in Vienna gave Czech Railways an exclusive tour of the production process of the new ComfortJets. A total of 25 underframes and 22 car bodies have already been produced here out of the planned 180 cars. Nine of them are now being assembled at the Škoda Group's Ostrava plant with interior fittings and interiors. Production of driving cars, which are the most time-consuming, has also begun in Munich. The first units from this project will be available on the rails in the middle of next year, although for the time being without the driving and restoration cars, which take considerably longer to be approved for operation.

"As you know, the supply in Europe is currently insufficient. Everybody is looking for sustainable transport, and we have great solutions. One of them is Viaggo locomotives," were the opening words of the presentation before the tour started. The new carriages promise a greener, more efficient, economical, and, above all, more comfortable long-distance journey. The top speed of 230 kilometres per hour will also speed up the time spent on the road.

And how does the whole production process work? At the Siemens plant, it starts with processing the material itself to create the cars' cabinets. Aluminium and other metals are mixed together under enormous pressure in a modern machine. There is no melting or damage to the structure, which makes it much more durable. This method makes it possible to preserve as many properties as possible that would be considerably weakened by other types of processing. The material is so hard that it is impossible to test its strength except by destruction. The factory, therefore, relies heavily on digital technology to measure and calculate the properties. However, a portion of each batch of material is kept to test its properties.

Then comes the process of welding the individual components into a whole. Thanks to modern technology, this part of the production has also been greatly innovated, resulting in increased durability of the joints and, thus, safety on the train. The incorporation of modern robots into production allows joints to be exposed to heat only twice, as opposed to the previous minimum of five welds required for manual work. In fact, the robot can withstand exposure to enormous temperatures. The fewer times a material is exposed to heat, the less it is weakened. In addition, after each welding, the joints have to be brought together, and it also significantly impacts the structure of the material. Once the structure is made, the flaws must be manually adjusted to create a perfect space that can be turned into an aerodynamic pressure-tight room because the cabin's airtightness prevents the ears from sticking out at high speed and dampens the noise of the ride.

Once the whole thing is assembled, it is taken away for painting. The first step is to sand the surface to roughen it up so that the paint sticks better. Here again, technology is used to simplify the process. Without them, workers would have to carry huge 13-pound machines daily to sand and smooth the surface. Innovation has come here too, and digitalisation has made it much easier to maintain the machines involved in the process. Once the surface has been prepared, it's time to apply the coating itself, which is again automated. The spraying is done from proximity, which means it is pressed into the surface rather than applied to it. As the rigs will still be partly covered with foils, the transitions between the colours don't need to be completely accurate.

Finally, doors, windows and other components are added to the kit. The windows for these cars are equipped with new technology that allows better passage of mobile phone signals into the interior and helps preserve the thermal insulation properties of the glass. One will recognise them on the car thanks to the subtle patterns on the glass in the shape of stars or snowflakes.

However, even such an innovative plant faces challenges. The most pressing of these is a shortage of skilled labour. In the words of our dear guide, more people will leave the labour market in the next five years than will enter it. It is not difficult to buy a robot and install it, the problem is how to find someone who will be able to take care of it and use it to the maximum. For this reason, they decided to start with the students at the university. They offer a bachelor's degree that combines practical and professional knowledge, a master's degree for future managers and other programmes. The company has also focused on recruiting employees from various social groups, such as people with disabilities or newcomers from other countries, for whom they offer additional education.