Cyrille Guyon, Ermewa: Rail freight can double and decarbonise the supply chain in line with EU targets.

Cyrille Guyon, Ermewa: Rail freight can double and decarbonise the supply chain in line with EU targets.
Cyrille Guyon, Deputy Managing Director, Ermewa (graffiti puzzles in the background were made from wooden floors from recycled Ermewa wagons)

In the second part of the interview for, Cyrille Guyon, Deputy Managing Director, explains how Ermewa aims to improve the performance of rail freight and double its potential through innovative solutions such as Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC), which is key to achieving the ambitious targets set out in the EU Green Deal.

Last week we brought you the first part of an interview with Cyrille Guyon, Deputy Managing Director at Ermewa, in which he described how they dealt with the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine. Among other things, he said that the energy crisis and war in Ukraine had led to a significant shift in logistics and supply chain operations for rail freight. Ermewa, a wagon hire company with a fleet of more than 45,000 wagons, plans to acquire 3,000 newly built wagons every year until 2031, despite the challenges facing the manufacturing industry. 

And here is the second part of this interview:

RM: What are the latest trends in wagon design? Is it still current to have customized wagons or convenient for a wider range of customers?

Cyrille Guyon: In the railway industry, safety is and will always be the top priority. The topics of tare weight and length remain crucial. Anticipation, optimization of maintenance needs and visibility on transport are the key factors of an optimized maintenance supply chain. To meet these needs, we are developing digital solutions for our equipment, dedicated to Maintenance 4.0 – Condition Based Maintenance (CBM), Predictive Maintenance (PdM) and Supply Chain Maintenance (MSC). This is a new approach to maintenance. Increasing visibility, anticipating failures, planning maintenance, limiting workshop downtime, and thereby reducing Turnaround Time (TaT), bring impactful benefits for Ermewa and its partners. The reliability, performance and safety level of our equipment is thus enhanced to optimize our customers’ supply chain.

RM: What additional services do you offer in addition to your core rental business? Do you have any plans to expand your service portfolio in the future?

Cyrille Guyon: We address segment needs, specificities and challenges, and our services are tailored accordingly. The requirements of a steel manufacturer differ from an intermodal operator or a grain cooperative. For instance, the grain business is heavily dependent on seasonality, while the steel manufacturer needs to maintain a consistent production pace by ensuring that rolling stock is always available to meet capacity requirements. Our clients in intermodal operations need agile and time-sensitive maintenance to ensure their uninterrupted cargo flow. In addition, we offer onsite maintenance services to steel manufacturers and the revision of wagons during peak seasons for grain.

Thanks to Ermewa´s digitalization of fleet and initiatives such as Maintenance 4.0, Maintenance Supply Chain, and MSC 4.0 that are closely aligned with the goal of reducing risks even more and supporting decarbonization, we can provide data-driven agile maintenance, quick turnaround time and therefore keep the highest availability of operational fleet utilization rate for our clients, which now represents 8-12% of their rental time, including transportation to and from workshops and maintenance work.

RM: Do you intend to expand your activities to new regions of the world?

Cyrille Guyon: At present, Europe presents numerous opportunities for growth and development. The wagon market, estimated at 500,000 wagons, consists of approximately 50% wagons of private owners and the remaining are incumbents. The state railways' fleet, which is typically consisting of old, legacy assets, often faces limitations in terms of resources for refurbishment or fleet renewal. This situation creates opportunities for private players to enter the market and make an impact.

RM: How do you see the wagon market this year, next year and in the future - what will be the key commodities for rail freight? What signals are you getting from the market?

Cyrille Guyon: From a market perspective and with the EU's ambitious objectives for the future in mind, rail freight has the potential to double and decarbonize the supply chain. We invest in our assets accordingly. Given the resilience of rail freight, we must focus on improving its performance as currently it is not cost-effective enough. With this in mind, we are involved in innovative solutions and technologies such as Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC). This could be a game changer for modal shift. Ermewa is proud to be an active partner in this innovative project that will transform rail freight transport across Europe. In addition to Ermewa's other environmental initiatives, the DAC is the key to achieving the ambitious objectives set out in the EU Green Deal.

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