Dutch Railways

The Dutch Railways are systematically lowering their maintenance costs with digital part manufacturing. The short amount of time until delivery ensures the Dutch Railways can keep operating according to their time tables.
Case study
Spare parts catalog digitization pilot
Cost savings
€25,000 per spare part on average
Lead time
10 days, a 10-fold improvement

Challenge: traditional supply chain slow and expensive

Dutch Railways (also known as Nederlandse Spoorwegen, NS) have long had to contend with a problematic supply chain for spare parts because of traditional production methods. Purchasing spare parts usually meant accepting long delivery times, sometimes up to twelve months. And also having to maintain large and unnecessary inventories because of high minimum order quantities (MOQs). The results of this were long downtimes of equipment and a tremendous amount of tied up working capital and high costs for warehousing, while 62% of the parts were not even used at all.

As it is for other rail companies maintaining decades old rail networks, spare parts and inventory had become a large cost driver for Dutch Railways. That’s where CastLab came in.

CastLab’s solution: digitization of longtail articles

Digitizing critical parts for on-demand production offers a much better alternative. Dutch Railways started working with CastLab to digitize its inventory, allowing for the production of metal parts on demand. CastLab developed digital twins (a digital replica) for these components and produced them with digital manufacturing methods.

For most of these parts, a mold was produced through 3D printing, reducing lead times for end products from 100 days to less than 10. Their average savings per article during the pilot amounted to €25,000 while obtaining the required quality approval and (original) certifications.

After the successful completion of the pilot, the Dutch Railways decided to digitize 300 spare parts for on-demand production from 2020 onwards, with the potential savings amounting to €7.5 million.

Read the full case study here.