This article is only available in Dutch 🇳🇱
ASSET Rail is the youngest and currently the largest contractor in Dutch rail maintenance. The company employs over 330 people and manages 40 percent of ProRail's contract areas. In 2017, Jorn Pruntel became general manager. Before that, he left his job as train safety systems manager at ProRail. Previously, Jorn worked as a naval officer in the Department of Defense. Here he developed a clear vision about data presentation, process optimization and getting people to perform optimally in a high-tech environment. In this interview you can read how Jorn puts that vision to work for ASSET Rail's mechanics and what role the now six-year digital partnership with Move plays in that.
What does the playing field in which ASSET Rail operates look like?
'The Dutch railroad infrastructure is owned by the government. ProRail manages the track on behalf of the government and takes care of day-to-day operations. ProRail outsources maintenance to contractors such as Strukton, BAM, Volkerrail and ASSET Rail. They all operate in their own contract area(s). The track is divided into 20 concessions, for which contractors can tender. If you win a tender, you sign a performance contract with ProRail. Delivered performance results in bonuses or maluses, depending on the contractual agreements. The speed of work and the quality delivered have a lot of influence on this.'
What challenge did ASSET Rail have when you entered it?
'When I started at ASSET Rail, it was still a relatively small player. The company employed 100 people and operated in two contract areas. Many processes, including administration, were labor-intensive and performed manually. Outages came in via a mail server and were assigned over the phone by an outage coordinator. After assignment, employees would often search online for additional information about the outage. As we won more and more tenders and the number of contract areas increased, the overview disappeared. To solve this, we started developing tools that put our employees at the center and facilitate them to get the job done. Nor is the machine central to us; it's about the job that needs to be done outside. In traditional contracting this is often not the case.'
How did you tackle that challenge?
'We decided to digitalize the process around malfunctions. I believe in overview; an app provides that. Of course that process is a quest, but without good digitalization you won't make it as a company. With our input, Move developed the first digital solution for ASSET Rail in 2017: the malfunctions notification app. The app gives an overview and provides mechanics with relevant information. This allows them to act quickly and correctly without the intervention of a malfunction coordinator. The app thus saves time. This facet held the greatest potential for us to make our business more profitable. In addition, the app provides 24/7 insight into what is happening on site. Even outside our operations center, every employee can monitor whether things are going well outside.'
'By daring to pioneer digitally, ASSET Rail has worked towards scalability and a rock-solid market position. I am super proud of Move's role in this and look forward to the further development of our cooperation.'
Robert Kosse, CEO Move
After the malfunctions notification app, Move developed several other digital solutions for ASSET Rail. What effect has that had on your business?
'Everything is conceived and adapted from the craftsman's point of view. We followed the route to get the most out of that, and that resulted in much more scale advantage. In the contracting industry margins are very low, our margins are above average because of this. Simply by focusing on the ideal process for our personnel. The malfunctions notification app was followed by the maintenance app, for example, which can predict when track maintenance is needed based on previous incidents. This saves us scarce hours of skilled workers. The mechanic still has to perform the maintenance himself, but the administration is automated into the chain. Another great example of scalability can be seen in the expansion of contract areas, which we will do again on October 1st, 2023. For this we now only need to plug in digitally, because the new area already 'hangs' in our digital infrastructure. The technicians download an update, tick an extra box and can get to work. So with our digital infrastructure, it doesn't matter whether we have 5 percent or 100 percent market share.'
How has the digital partnership with Move evolved in recent years?
'Move has now become one of our most important and loyal partners. It is almost like being a part of the company. The cooperation is based on equality. We have good contact and are there for each other. Move unburdens, thinks with us and gives solicited and unsolicited advice. Also when it comes to the cooperation itself. Going through a digital transition requires a change in working methods. Because at a certain point we were not getting the most out of it, we sat down together and had an honest talk. Move then indicated that our contract-oriented way of working did not fit in with their way of working and that we had to switch to an agile way of working, otherwise we would not progress digitally. That was unusual within ASSET Rail, they were used to working with 'fixed' agreements. Nevertheless, we started doing it and from then on we made a nice transition in the way we work together. If you have a good relationship, you can discuss things like this because you grant each other things.'
What future plans and dreams does ASSET Rail have?
'I think satisfied staff, a satisfied customer and added value for our shareholders are most important. We really do everything we can to make sure people enjoy themselves at ASSET Rail. If the staff enjoy their work, the rest will come naturally. Ultimately it's about people, feeling for your business, understanding your profession and gathering a group of people around you who want to do it. To remain relevant as a company in the future, good staff and further digitalization are of the utmost importance. Move is a reliable partner that will continue to help us with this in the future.'
Interested in what Move can do for your organization in terms of digital transformation? Feel free to contact us.