ABB Switzerland’s Turgi transportation factory voted best factory of 2014

2014-09-03 - ABB’s factory for traction converters in Turgi has been voted best factory in Switzerland in an industry competition sponsored by a leading weekly German business magazine and judged by a panel of academics.
ABB's traction converters factory in Turgi wins kudos from one of Germany's leading business magazines
The factory in northern Switzerland employs 1,000 people who provide solutions for electrified transportation, including the $200 million order announced early this year to supply electrical systems for 36 high-speed trains for Sweden's state-owned rail operator.

This honor puts the Turgi factory in the running against factories in Germany, France and Spain for the overall European “Industrial Excellence Award,” to be announced at a conference in Weimar, Germany, in October.

Initiated in 1995 by the journal WirtschaftsWoche, one of Germany’s leading business magazines, the annual competition recognizes outstanding performance in all processes along the production and logistic chain, from supplier to end customer.

“The jury was particularly impressed with ABB factory’s continuous double-digit growth rate over more than a century in a high-wage country such as Switzerland, and expanding its market share in a fierce international market,” said Harald Hepp, manager of ABB’s High Power Propulsion business in Turgi.

Sophisticated processes, rapid innovations

The factory’s sophisticated processes in engineering and supply-chain management, the strong connection between business and servicing, rapid implementation of innovations and the international expansion strategy were other contributing factors, he said.

And this in a challenging market environment: Nothing from Turgi is “from the rack,” as each of the roughly 50 orders the factory is currently working on - from about 20 train makers and rail operators stretching from Brazil to China - requires a tailor-made solution.

One example of the factory’s groundbreaking work: It was part of an experimental partnership between ABB and Geneva, Switzerland’s transportation, technology, and utility authorities that developed the technology that’s powering the world’s first high-capacity flash charging electric bus system, Geneva’s TOSA, currently running the route between the southern Swiss city’s convention center and airport.

Sales double as research and development boosted

Sales in the last five years from Turgi have doubled as management has invested 10 percent in research and development. The factory has big ambitions, too, with particular optimism about the future of retrofits as a viable and energy efficient option to modernize aging trains. aiming to boost the share of business it gets from modernizing trains to 50 percent, from about 10 percent now.

“This is exactly the right path to differentiate yourself from the competition,” said Enver Yucesan, from the Insead Business School and a judge for the award, according to an article from WirtschaftsWoche about the honor.

“This business model serves as an example for other branches of industry,” Yucesan said.

ABB’s Transportation Product Group, part of the company’s Power Conversion Business Unit, won the award just weeks after being successfully recertified according to the International Railway Industry Standard.

Few companies in the railway industry meet this, the highest criteria for this certification, and results have steadily improved in all areas of the product development process since the first certification in 2008.