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Frauscher looks back on recent achievements and outlines plans for continued success

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Despite persistently high interest rates and inflation as well as uncertain geopolitical developments in the EMEA region, Frauscher can look back on its most successful year since the company was founded, with a record in sales achieved in 2023. Today Frauscher is the world market leader and biggest supplier of axle counting and wheel detection solutions and it is one of our main objectives to maintain this going forward. In order to position the organisation for future success, Frauscher has set in motion a number of initiatives and investments in strategically important areas such as R&D, Artificial Intelligence and new innovations within the product portfolio.

Together with our CEO Michael Thiel we not only look back at our great achievements, but also explore the exciting developments which are happening in the year 2024 and beyond to discover what the future will bring for the organisation.

Looking back at this incredible milestone, which projects and initiatives have led to this success?

Michael: Particularly the second half of 2023 was a very strong period for Frauscher, which led to this exceptional order intake that gives us a good base for the upcoming years. There was not really one single project which led to this success that I could mention now, but rather a global contribution of projects from all over the railway world. Furthermore, the level of manufacturing in our company is continuously growing in both, quantity, and quality with many plans in 2024 to further increase production. This is also supported by our manufacturing location in India which is showing very good results and we plan to develop this even further in the upcoming years. Another achievement I am particularly proud of is the ISO27001 certificate, which we received in 2023 showcasing our high-quality standards and professionality.

There are many exciting projects also lined up, for instance with our long-established partner and customer SNCF in France where we are aiming to supply a first delivery for the HPMV line in 2024. We also had considerable success in locations such as China where the Fenghuang Maglev is the first maglev train in the world to use the FAdC®. Our presence is also being further expanded in North America with many successfully completed projects in metro applications and yards which have led to greater operational efficiency and service uptime. Of course, India also has to be mentioned – here Frauscher solutions are used across many railway segments to ensure safe and reliable rail operations. One such project is Adra Yard, with a coverage of 139 counting heads and 97 track sections.

What counts most are our long-standing and successful customer relationships which we established all over the world. Every single positive customer feedback we get, reminds me that Frauscher as an organisation is on the right track. Our transparency and how we respond to difficult situations is acknowledged by our customers and this is a great part of our market position - in the future, we wish to firmly continue this legacy.

Are there any particular markets which are important for Frauscher now and in the future?

Michael: As mentioned, it was a very successful year on a global scale. However, some of our locations performed exceptionally well and achieved their highest sales numbers within their respective markets. Looking forward, we wish to expand our global presence with a particular focus on strategically important markets such as Australia, the CIS region, China, France and of course, India where there is an abundance of opportunities for our organisation.

We have already experienced some great results in these markets and wish to build upon this success in the upcoming years. The Indian team in particular, has been exceeding expectations in terms of its overall performance and I am really glad to say that this trend is also set to continue. Since India will play an increasingly important role in our global business, we have also started planning a substantial expansion of R&D resources in India on many different fronts, including software development, DevOps and data engineering. Furthermore, many specific product adaptations are also planned, especially for the Indian market, such as a PC based reset system and a customised version of data transmission, designed to cater to specific customer needs.

To strengthen the strategically important locations, Frauscher opened new and bigger offices in order to continue serving the markets successfully. Of course, we wish to maintain this development also in the future with even greater expansion into different territories and markets.

What challenges will Frauscher face in 2024 and what is the vision for the future?

Michael: Of course, we are still looking at a lot of uncertainty, external influences, and geopolitical challenges all around the world. A globalised economy is the foundation of our success, as all global markets and smooth economic processes highly influence the success of Frauscher. Keeping a leading market position and having a global organisation which is present in all markets and seen as a very reliable and transparent partner by our customers, will allow us to not only maintain but also grow our global presence. Also, increasing the manufacturing volume in India will help us to establish two independent but full-scale manufacturing sites addressing different economic areas in the world.

With respect to our future vision and plans, I would like to mention our progress regarding EULYNX. Our teams are continuously working on the expansion of our portfolio to support the EULYNX initiative which of course carries many benefits for the customers, mainly in terms of greater interoperability and the reduction in installation and maintenance costs of signalling equipment. Further enhancement of our portfolio is planned to support the EULYNX approach with the TDS interface for BaseLine 4.2 currently in the pipeline and BL 2.3 & 3.5 already successfully completed and in operation.

Likewise, new developments are also planned in areas such as cloud-based diagnostic systems. In this area, we have already had the successful go-live of the Frauscher Insights data platform, which is essentially a cloud-based monitoring and diagnostics system that allows operators to bundle and enrich data from rail operations, making it available via various applications. I am really glad to say that we already have several installations of this cloud-based solution in place, and we have recently received the product approval in the UK and commissioned the system in Paddington Station.

The topic of data transmission is definitely also in focus. Here we are talking about technology which enables the exchange of vital and non-vital information for various applications. This is a highly available and robust solution with low life cycle costs and simple configuration, which makes it very appealing to many operators. As mentioned previously, there will also be market specific adaptations of this solution, especially for the Indian market, for fail safe data transmission.

No vision of the future could be complete without a new pipeline of solutions which represent the latest advancements in innovation, in line with customer needs. An example of this is the Frauscher FTVS system which was developed on the basis of customer requirements for a non-vital axle counter solution with Frauscher like quality and reliability but lower costs. The successful launch of this solution and the demand from rail operators in the United States has been very encouraging so far. Furthermore, the development of our new sensor generation is also in progress.

Regarding both, the short- and long-term future, there are many initiatives which we are currently focusing on, even outside of the development of new solutions. For instance, we are planning to expand our global workforce by up to 25% in key strategic areas including R&D and digitalisation to bring top tier talent into our organisation. Likewise, we are utilising the latest and most cutting-edge technologies including Artificial Intelligence, which we can use in various areas of our organisation, such as software engineering. We have some big plans in this area and aim to develop the AI competencies across our entire organisation through establishing AI ambassadors and utilising AI training courses. Furthermore, the development of our own AI based solutions such as FrauscherGPT is also a part of this, with the aim of creating a comprehensive AI resource that will help with various tasks. The Frauscher Data Hive also plays an important role in our transformative efforts since it acts as a central data warehouse and a connection point for all product-related data, linking to all available databases and data sources.

Working with such technologies will be essential for us as we aim to expand our presence into new markets. In fact, this is the reason why we currently reinvest approximately 10% of sales flow into R&D and research. We also aim to further expand our agile working methods to be closer to the customer, creating shorter iteration cycles which will reduce our time to market.

Clearly the way to maintain our success lies in preserving our strong market presence, increase our global growth and develop and execute a future-proof strategy to expand our solutions portfolio and service offerings.

What are some of the planned initiatives for 2024 you are particularly looking forward to?

Michael: As mentioned we have introduced new solutions such as Frauscher Insights, our intelligent data platform, as well as Frauscher Pulse, a service offering program which supports our customers during the whole lifecycle of our products. Frauscher Insights also plays a great role within our service offering, carrying the possibility to collect data received from train detection and making it available via various applications. This is a new business for us as an organisation and we plan to heavily invest in these services. Putting greater focus on predictive and preventive maintenance to ensure maximum availability of railway operations has high priority on our agenda, and we have already made significant progress in this area.

Another important part of 2024 is our focus on customer experience. It’s not only our objective to have the best product in the market, but also the best organisation globally when it comes to customer experience. Due to this we will also have a strong focus on marketing to develop all touchpoints of our customers further. This is especially needed, as our service offerings bring us now even closer to railway operators as our main users and customers.

2024 is also a year of InnoTrans and we are particularly excited to show our most innovative solutions for the future of mobility in Berlin later this year in September. It is again a great opportunity to present our brand, interact with our customers and partners and showcase our latest innovations. 

Of course, we also have some internal initiatives planned or ongoing to further develop our digital landscape and processes to make sure, we as an organisation, can work even more efficiently as we grow and requirements are getting more demanding. I am very excited not only for 2024 but also for the upcoming years, and I am very proud to be part of this organisation and all our employees and teams worldwide. 

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