Home: April / May 2012 › Working together
20/04/2012 | Channel:
Infrastructure, Rolling Stock, Freight, Business Improvement, New Products & Services
The Danish RailWay Group plays a vital role in promoting export and networking opportunities to its members
Although the Danish RailWay Group was officially founded in 2000, the concept behind it stems back much further to the development of a new train series ‘Flexliner’ by Bombardier, which still forms the core rolling stock in Denmark today. In support of this activity a number of sub-suppliers arose around Bombardier, and it is within this network that the Danish RailWay Group has its roots.
Following the Flexliner development, several of the involved parties moved beyond the supply to the national train manufacturers and began operating in the export market where they achieved great success. With the rise of the InnoTrans exhibition as a major event in the rail industry, a group of eight Danish subcontractors came together under the growing need for a specific sector for this line of business, which was realised in the formation of the Danish RailWay Group.
At present the Group represents around 30 members, each of which specialises in products and services aimed at the international rail industry. This includes interior design systems, upholstery and furnishings, reinforced plastics, consultants, passenger information systems, and dynamic impact load detectors. The majority of these companies fall under the umbrella of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which the Danish RailWay Group recognise as playing important roles relative to those of the world’s major players.
The Group’s aim is to support and encourage its members in the international export market. “We have essentially built on a very successful national product, where we have taken these suppliers into the export markets, some of which are now among the market leaders in their field,” highlights Knud Møllenbach, chairman of the Danish RailWay Group. “In terms of our main activities the InnoTrans exhibition every second year remains a key event, but we have also widened our scope further with annual export promotion tours in certain markets. Last year we carried out one such tour to the UK, and intend to complete a similar visit to Russia later this year.”
In its own right the Danish RailWay Group is a sector network of the Danish Export Association, which is a private non-profit association for the purpose of encouraging trade between Danish and international companies. As Knud reveals, this is a key benefit of membership to the Group: “Through its research with university partners, the Danish Export Association established that by working in industry networks on matters such as export you can substantially enhance these activities. As such those SMEs in Denmark that participate in export networks have around a 50 per cent higher chance of success in these endeavours.
“Our members have found that they are able to raise their profile substantially at international trade fairs, and consequently in the international market. In particular our role in creating networking opportunities is essential for many SMEs, as you can spend a lot of money on promotion, travel and advertising, but it is much more effective if you work in partnership and have a faster, more direct and more cost-effective way to access markets,” he adds.
“What is very interesting to see is the high activity of national rail projects that are coming up in Denmark,” describes Knud. “As a small country the rail market in Denmark is five to ten per cent that of the UK, but over the next 20 years we will spend between £1 billion and £1.5 billion a year. This is based purely on the projects that were already committed by the Government, some of which have already been contracted today. What we will see with a number of these projects is that there will be a close co-operation between some of the very large international players such as Siemens, Alstom and Balfour Beatty, and smaller national suppliers. We believe that as national companies we can fill some niche markets and roles relative to the large conglomerates that will lead the supply teams. This is really what we see as the future of our industry, and as a Group we will look to see how we can take our national members from a very small rail market into some of the most forefront projects in the world.”
Just some of the markets of interest include the UK, as well as the BRIC countries, where Danish RailWay Group has already seen some of its members make significant contributions to projects in the Indian market. The other noticeable shift is the movement of manufacturers from the Far East – such as Hitachi – into the European market. “Whilst for some of the traditional suppliers this may be of concern, as smaller local subcontractors we see it as a great opportunity,” notes Knud. “In today’s globalised world it is not uncommon to see trains being built in one country, and assembled in another, with components being supplied from numerous other markets, all coming together to make a single product.
“In line with this we believe it is important to look to take our Group beyond the strictly national level, to join forces and work in partnership with network groups in other countries. The general demand for rail on a global basis shows no signs of slowing down, and with this will come greater need for skilled companies with expertise in this market. Therefore we are looking forward to a vibrant market with lots of opportunities for suppliers on all levels,” he concludes.