Golden Jubilee – Gerben Fidder Project Manager Rail Technology

Gerben Fidder started working at Bemo Rail in 2018. He is one of the newer colleagues and likes to share his experience at Bemo Rail.

Gerben: “Bemo Rail is a dynamic company, we do not give up easily and we like challenges. No project is too crazy. Whether it is in Sweden, French Guiana, Curacao, or in the Netherlands working on an extinguishing track, Bemo will get the job done. That is really something to be proud of. Bemo is unique and that is partly because we have both rail and shunting technology in-house. Thanks to this combination and our 50 years of experience, we can handle anything in the field of rail technology.”

Gerben (on the right) with collegues at Tata Steel working on a extinguishing track.

The switch to Bemo Rail
Gerben: “Before I made the switch to Bemo, I worked for seventeen years for an engineering company that specialises in construction and civil and mechanical engineering. The experience I gained there was mostly in the field of project and construction management. I started out as a supervisor and grew into a position as project coordinator. During that time, I coordinated several crane track renovation projects. Later, I became a construction manager. In this role, due to my experience with crane tracks, I was asked by a steel plant to manage the 40 to 500 ton crane tracks.

“I was a manager there for 8 years and I learned a lot about management and the maintenance of crane tracks in a production environment. After this, I was made construction and project manager at the engineering office. It was during that period that I came into contact with Bemo Rail while working on an extinguishing track project at Kooksfabriek 1 at Tata Steel. The work on the fire extinguishing track entailed a lot of effort, but it was very rewarding and a great pleasure.

“I remember well that it was hard to find a company that dared to do this challenging job, due to its technical complexity and associated coordination. But Bemo dared to take on the challenge. In that period, I collaborated intensively with Bemo. The project was a huge challenge, throwing up many complicated obstacles. We had a daily three-hour working window, after which regular production at the plant had to continue again. I thought it was great that Bemo had the flexibility, also in conversation, to solve technical obstacles and bring the job to a successful finish. It told people a lot about Bemo, about how working together went so smoothly, even when things were against us – Bemo Rail always came up with solutions.

I remember thinking to myself: “I want to be a part of that.

“After completing the project, I decided it was time for me to find a new challenge. It was by pure coincidence that George Nieuwland told me that Bemo Rail was looking for a Project Manager Rail Technology. I went for an interview and the job drew my immediate enthusiasm.  It was a position in which my experience in rail technology could be further specialised and developed. The switch from the role of client to contractor was completely new to me. It felt like a fresh start and a great opportunity for the further course of my career. Once hired, Bemo felt like a warm blanket and I still really enjoy working at Bemo. Thanks in no small part also, incidentally, to great colleagues and solidarity.

“We offer the complete rail-technology package. We make, sell, assemble and install different types of rails and related products such as sole plates, sleepers, buffers and rail clips.

“Bemo Rail projects are often long-term projects that start with capturing the interest of the customer, followed by an on-site visit and a customised offer. When the order is approved, the internal process starts: from purchase to work preparation. I ensure all the right parts, materials, planning and people are put in place. After that, it is important to ensure that the foreman and the on-site team know what’s what. I am always present at the kick-off, I think that’s important. We do the job together, as a team, and I am very happy and proud of the great results that our team has achieved!

Gerben with Teun Druijf (director) at a project in Sweden.

Tronox
“The Tronox project is an example of a great, but also challenging project. Tronox produces titanium dioxide pigment and they asked us a rather complex question. It concerned a large and heavy oven that was set up on six parallel rails in a gutter with a length of 45 metres. The rails and wheels of the oven needed to be replaced, but the oven was coated with refractory brickwork on the inside. Refractory bricks are not glued in, but locked in place by an expansion process. The major concern was that the refractory brickwork would be damaged when jacking up the oven and the oven had to be jacked up in order to be able to replace the rail construction and wheels underneath.

“At Bemo, we rose to the challenge with great success! It went so well that shortly after the first oven, we were commissioned to perform the renovation work on the second, then the third and now the final oven this year.”

The future of Bemo Rail
“Within the organisation, we recently changed the way we work to a more project-based approach. We now work together on projects with all the Bemo departments and facets of the company, in specially assigned teams. This ensures that we can deliver even better results. As a company, we are constantly improving and developing in order to be more efficient, do better and meet or go beyond our customers’ demands. We help each other with our various expertises to make each project a success and to operate together at a high level, all with the ultimate aim to satisfy the customer.

“Our engineering and rail department constantly work together on innovation. We investigate options for new materials that are better for the climate, for instance, without compromising on quality. Bemo Rail is ready for the future.

“My experience after a year and a half: Bemo is a fun and diverse company where you are challenged as a person. Because of that challenge, you learn a lot in a short period of time. And at Bemo, there is also plenty of room for the personal: it is wonderful to work in an environment where people are willing to help each other.”

 

Golden Jubilee Bemo Rail – Sebastiaan Bachet, Foreman Rail Technology

Sebastiaan started at Bemo Rail in 2005 after a technical education and additional specialised courses in metalworking. He first worked as a mechanic in the Bemo workshop, but soon he moved to fieldwork.

Sebastiaan: “I have travelled all around the world on behalf of Bemo Rail. I have been in Laos, Thailand, Ghana, Hong Kong, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Peru, French Guiana, Aruba, Curacao, Finland, England, Germany and Belgium.”

Sebastiaan: “I started in Waarland, with a team of new mechanics. At the time, I was not the average Bemo employee and stood out with my diamond earrings, Nikes and Indonesian complexion. However, I quickly felt at home and have been working at Bemo for over 14 years now.

“The first three months, I spent drilling sleepers; then I was asked to join the field team. The colleagues were somewhat stiff and reserved at first. But then I got to know them and they got to know me and fortunately I found my place. We are a very close team, I wouldn’t call them family, but if you spend a long time together on a job on site, you get to know each other very well. We know we can count on each other.

“The first year and a half, I was assigned to do welding jobs. Together with colleague Wouter, we drove across the Netherlands for various jobs. Then the opportunity arose to become a foreman and I seized that opportunity.”

The Egypt Project: Installing 2,000 Metres of Rails on the Dock
Sebastiaan: “In 2008, Bemo needed someone for a project in Egypt. I didn’t know much about the country, but I was asked and I went; it was my first international project. The project site was located only three hours from Cairo and I was shocked when I arrived. I really hadn’t expected the difference in culture to be so significant! The project was led by a Chinese company and the working methods and conditions were different compared to what I was used to in the Netherlands. Communication was difficult at times.

Egypt installing 2,000 metres of Rails on the Dock

“The project involved installing 2,000 metres of rails on the dock. We had to install 250 metres in each phase; around 1,500 people worked on that same piece of 250 metres. Every time we finished 250 metres of rails, this was handed over to the terminal and a container crane was put on the rail immediately. It was a battlefield! Nowadays, this kind of practices do not exist anymore, and I have never experienced anything like it again. I certainly learned to stand up for myself! It was tough, but we made it work. We finished the job and I am proud of that!

“There were quite a few tensions in Egypt at the time. The locals warned me that it was not safe and that I might have to leave. I remember thinking ‘they are exaggerating’. But I was wrong, because in 2009 the war began in Egypt and I was still there. The hotel next to us was on fire, we heard guns, there had been an outbreak in prison and thousands of men were rioting in the streets. Our hotel was guarded by tanks and the cook made Molotov cocktails from beer bottles from the bar to protect us. We waited for a quiet moment to leave. Two days later, that moment arrived: it was a bit quieter and we left with all the foreigners present in a column of 3 cars. When we arrived in Cairo, we were surrounded by a crowd with shotguns and bats. They were locals protecting their properties. Fortunately, they saw we were foreigners, let us pass and we were able to get to the airport. Bemo managed to arrange a ticket for me and I have never been so happy to be home again in my life!”

Port Said Egypt

Hong Kong Cruise Terminal:
Sebastiaan: “The next project was in Hong Kong. The first time I went there for four and a half months; it was a project in a Cargo Terminal at the airport. We installed a unique earthquake-proof rail system on seven floors. Shortly after, in January, we had the chance to do a second project in Hong Kong, this time for a Cruise Terminal. We laid rails commissioned by a Spanish company. In addition to work, leisure time in Hong Kong was also unique. It is a diverse and international city and I had a fantastic time there! I remember going to a “Rugby 7” match with a group of colleagues and acquaintances; we were able to get cheap tickets at the door. We had seats right behind the goal and I caught a ball. It was broadcast on TV! It was such a unique experience and the atmosphere was great!”

Hong Kong Cruise Terminal

Marocco:
Sebastiaan: “I spent a year and a half in Tangier to oversee the construction of a port rail system. We helped build the largest container terminal in Africa there. This project was the icing on the cake. What Bemo does is very special, and the confidence Bemo has always placed in my abilities is also very special. Just like my colleagues, I am always ready and willing to take on any challenge. I went to Morocco with colleagues Mark and Marcel and it was great. Sometimes lonely, too, but the experience helped shape me. I am very proud of that project.

Sebastiaan in Tanger, Marocco.

Sebastiaan: “I think that in the coming years we will become even bigger and better than we already are. I want to continue to use my experience to take the projects on site to a higher level.”

Golden Jubilee – Arno Logman, Head of Shunting Department

Arno has honed and developed his skills at Bemo Rail for the past 33 years. He is one of the most loyal employees a company could desire, and an expert in his field.

He started as a trainee at Bemo Rail in 1986. During his internship, he helped build the first locomotive in our Waarland workshop. Arno became a full employee at Bemo Rail in 1987, when he started as a mechanic. In 1992, he was asked by Mr. Ter Mors to pick up the shunting preparation in the office. Over the years, Arno has grown into his current position as manager of the Shunting department.

Arno: “I would describe my time at Bemo as very diverse and dynamic: from the 24-year-old mechanic who once started at Bemo, I have come a long way to where I am now. I am very proud of that and the position Bemo Rail has created for itself in the current market! We deliver our product with great success to the petrochemical sector, heavy industry and railways worldwide, and we serve a large group of appealing companies with our service and after sales. People sometimes say: ‘You’ve been there for so long!’ The reason is simple: new opportunities and challenges have always come up and I’ve been in a position to seize them.”

Locomotives
Arno: “The locomotives that we build today are no longer comparable to the locomotives of the past. The main changes are the ergonomic and environmental aspects. Basically, the locomotive is still a locomotive that is mostly driven by a diesel engine and pushes wagons back and forth. Only now you see that they are better accessible, due to a better, more modern and functional structure. The locomotives are many times tidier, more efficient and better structured than in the beginning. In addition, the locomotives are now equipped with a PLC control system, of course, which is a big difference compared to the early days. The structure of the machines is also quite different nowadays, due to changes to the welding and assembly processes, which are much more efficient than before. As a company, we are continuously innovating to make our locomotives and lorries as good, efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly as possible. We always strive to build the best machine possible.”

“A lot has happened over the years. The “designs” were sold to Stork RMO in 1993. Stork RMO was responsible for sales and Bemo Rail took care of the assembly. In addition, the focus for Bemo Rail was mainly on renting and selling used locomotives and maintaining them. The collaboration with Stork RMO was only of short duration. For a period of time, no locomotives were made at Bemo Rail. The construction of our Bemo locomotives started again in around 2005. The first “second generation” Bemo locomotives were made for Vopak, a Dutch multinational company located in Vlissingen, that stores and handles oil, chemicals and natural gas-related products. After 2005, the production was gradually expanded. Maintenance is still a very important activity; most locomotives are leased by our customers and the lease includes the maintenance of the machines. Right now, we are fully engaged in the production of a series of locomotives for Tata Steel, consisting of the rebuild of GE locomotives and four quench locomotives for an extinguishing track.”

Bemo Rail Shunting team in the workshop with the GE locomotive for Tata Steel

Early 90s Suriname
Arno Logman: “We did a special project in the 1990s in the jungle of Suriname. It was a development project commissioned by the Dutch government. We had to install a korjaal transfer installation for the village of Diitabiki (Drietabbetje). A korjaal is a Surinamese boat, which resembles a canoe. We flew there with a former drug plane (as the story goes).” Diitabiki is a Ndyuka village in the Sipaliwini District of Suriname. Diitabiki is the home of the Gaanman of the Ndyuka people. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Arno Logman: “We installed a lorry there that was winched into the water, so that the korjaal can sail on it. This was needed to circumvent the rapids and provide the villages beyond the rapids with goods such as food and fuel. In practice, the goods were unloaded from the korjaal onto the truck and it was then lifted up the hill. On the other side of the river, the goods could then be loaded into another korjaal and form there be transported further.”

Project for the Sultan of Brunei, 1996
Arno: “In 1996, we received an order for a project from the Sultan of Brunei (Brunei Shell LNG), a country in Southeast Asia. The project involved two phases. First, the extension of a jetty with a 500m track construction for which we supplied the rail parts; they laid the rails themselves. The second phase was the delivery of tailor-made, battery-driven electric Bemo passenger cars, to ride on rail (ATEX version). The cars transport the maintenance people from the factory on shore to the ship and vice versa. LNG is loaded into the ship over the jetty of now 4.5 km long, out into the sea. Later on, two extra lorries were shipped to Brunei.”

Arno Logman, Teun Druijf and client in Brunei.

Golden Jubilee – Interview Berkhout

Mr Berkhout – co-founder Bemo Rail

It is Wednesday, 1 July 1970 – a cool, summer day, with light rainfall, and only 13.3 degrees Celsius on the thermometer. Today, President Nixon urges the North Vietnamese government to negotiate peace before more blood is shed in Indo-China. Mr. W. Aantjes from the Dutch Chamber of Representatives proposes to postpone the national construction industry holiday until the winter so that more work can be done during summer, and Paul McCartney announces the breakup of The Beatles. (source history Dutch newspaper: Leidsch Dagblad 1 July 1970)

It seems to be a normal Wednesday, perhaps like every other Wednesday at that time, but it is a special day for Bemo Rail! On 1 July 1970, Bemo Rail was officially established by its founders Berkhout and Ter Mors.

Berkhout: “Before July 1970, Ter Mors and I worked together at Spoorijzer, a Dutch company located in Delft. I started working there immediately after obtaining my degree at the HTS (Higher Technical School). Together with Ter Mors, I was involved in the development of a railroad-bound locomotive, called a ‘towing mobile’. It was the start of a long and pleasant partnership,” says Berkhout with a smile.

Mr. Berkhout, Mr. Ter Mors and Jolande Vergaaij at a Rail Fair.

“By the end of 1969, as a result of post-war developments in transport, Spoorijzer was suffering. This was the moment for us to follow our own path and the start of Bemo Rail. We started out as a small trading company, selling rails, rail chairs and locomotives from the home of Mr. Ter Mors, on the Bilderdijkstraat in Alkmaar. Mr. Ter Mors was responsible for the finances and represented the locomotives. I was responsible for the technical designs and the sale of our rail products, including crane tracks.

Bemo Rail at the fair

Berkhout: “We bought the locs in England, France and Germany and sold them in the Netherlands and Belgium. The first few years, our trade region was mainly in and around the Netherlands. Bemo Rail grew rapidly and so did our international clientele. Between 1978 and 1985, I visited Saudi Arabia a number of times to sell rails and rail chairs. Together with Archirodon, a Greek contractor, we installed crane tracks in Jeddah, Gysan and Damman. We even sold rails and rail chairs to the militarily organised North Korean construction company Dong Ah. Due to the growing trade, we were able to hire more staff and move into an office building on Phoenixstraat in Alkmaar. The first employees of Bemo Rail were Mrs. Ypelaan (accounting), Piet Nijhuis (commerce), Hans Overing (technical drawings), Jolande Vergaaij (telephone operator and typist) and Teun Druijf (technical employee).

Mr Berkhout and Teun Druijf in the office

“I look back with pride on the past 50 years. The highlights for me were the international projects and the moment we started producing our own rail and shunting products. The broadcast of ‘Brandpunt in de Markt’, a Dutch television programme in 1985, was also special: we drove into the studio – on rails – with our first self-built Bemo locomotive. It was a quite a challenge, because the total weight of the locomotive was more than 45 tons! Also, Dutch Queen Beatrix was a guest at the Hannover Fair in 1990, which was very memorable for me. I officially retired in 2006, but I still enjoy being regularly involved in the daily activities of Bemo Rail.”

The first orders of Bemo Rail

Rail Chairs
In 1970, we received an order for rail chairs from concrete factory De Liesbosch in Houten, this was one of our very first orders. Grain handling company Bunge, located in the Benelux harbour Rotterdam Europoort, also ordered rail chairs that year: 558 of them for the sum of 37,888 guilders (approximately 17,192 euros). Nowadays, instead of rail chairs, we use rail clips placed on discontinuous sole plates to fix the rails.

Locomotives
Immediately after foundation, Bemo Rail started selling locomotives from, among others, England and Germany, representing brands like Vollert, MaK, Stephenson, Hunslet and Allan. Since 1983, Bemo Rail started manufacturing its own locomotives; at first production was outsourced to another company, later we started manufacturing in-house.

Article Financiële Telegraaf, Dutch Newspaper 7-12-1985

Golden Jubilee Bemo Rail – Interview Teun Druijf

Every week we share a unique “Bemo experience” from the past 50 years. This week the interview with director Teun Druijf.

In 2020, Bemo Rail is celebrating its 50th anniversary. From a modest trading company, Bemo Rail has grown into an expert in rail and shunting technology and enjoys a global reputation.

Director Teun Druijf: “You don’t become an expert overnight; as an organisation, we are constantly developing and innovating. We are proud to be considered experts in our field. In 2017 Bemo Rail was voted entrepreneur of the year. That was a great honour.

“The development and growth we went through would not have been possible without our loyal employees, some of whom have been with us for over 25 years. Their professional knowledge, expertise and hard-working, no-nonsense mentality, is the beating heart of Bemo Rail!

“As a company, we invest heavily in the knowledge and skills of our people. For projects abroad, we often work with a local workforce, and we train and educate those local workers ourselves. We invited a number of workers from Indonesia to come to our workshop in the Netherlands to give them a welding course, for instance, so that they could deliver high quality work back in Indonesia. Delivering high quality work is one of the reasons that Bemo Rail is considered an expert in its field and wherever in the world we work, and whomever we employ, high quality is what our customers know they’ll get.

“I want to thank our customers and suppliers for their loyalty and unconditional trust! This anniversary would not have been possible without them. Together, we have realised wonderful and exceptional projects over the years. We hope to be of service to you again in the future.”

2020 is one big jubilee for Teun Druijf!

In 2020, he has been employed by the company for 40 years, he has been its director for exactly 30 years, and at the same time, we’re all celebrating Bemo Rail’s Golden Jubilee with Teun!

In 1980, the year that Beatrix was crowned Queen of the Netherlands, Teun Druijf joined Bemo Rail as technical commercial assistant. He assisted Mr. Berkhout, who was the technical director back then.

Teun: “To start with, I was responsible for the technical calculations. Over the years, I started doing more projects and eventually I took over responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the company.”

Cyprus
Teun: “My first major overseas project was in Cyprus in 1985, where we were delivering a crane track. I was supervisor and a local contractor placed the crane track. I actually went there empty handed; all the required materials had already been shipped. I remember that we received way too many bolts. So, I went to the local hardware store on a scooter and sold the leftover bolts to them.”

Tata Steel
Teun: “One of my customers was the Hoogovens, a Dutch steel factory located in IJmuiden. I frequently visited them to sell rails and rail chairs. Today, the company is part of Tata Steel Europe and they are still a loyal customer. Over the years, Bemo Rail has received – and still receives – many, many orders. We don’t just sell them products nowadays, but we assemble and install the rails on site, too. We are currently working on the construction of the 4th 50-ton Bemo quench locomotive for Tata Steel at our Bemo workshop.”

Bemo Rail in Asia
Teun: “We have been involved in various rail projects in Indonesia since 1988, when we started our first project in Belawan for Pelindo 1. Since 2010, Indonesia has been a growing market and we have taken part in several projects in places that include Gilimas, Makassar, Cilegon and Kalimantan. To meet the growing far-away demand in Asia and elsewhere, we have opened various foreign offices: PT Bemo Rel in Indonesia, Bemo MMP LTD in Singapore and STE BEMORAIL SARL in Morocco. Moreover, our KRE15RCRV and KRE30RCRV locomotives for the Indian market are produced in India. Thanks to these expansions, our organisation is now more than ever able to flexibly, quickly and fully meet the needs of our customers all around the world!”

Teun Druijf at a project in Indonesia, 1988

Director of Bemo Rail
Teun: “I became director at the end of 1990. Bemo Rail was not in the best (financial) position, so I had some big challenges to overcome: change and innovation were urgently required. As director, I have always had clear goals in mind and those goals were always in line with the vision of Ter Mors, one of the company’s founders.

In 1990, we already did a combination of trading and manufacturing. We made the technical designs ourselves, but still outsourced most of the production, assembly and installation. The goal was to expand our services with in-house production, assembly, installation and maintenance. We also shifted our main focus to service and we started looking for partnerships with larger parties. This strategy has been successful over the years, leading us to bigger national and international projects, such as Stralsund, Euromax, the Ceres Terminal, ECT and Frisian Shipyard.

In 2006 we moved to a new and larger building in Warmenhuizen, in the northwest of the Netherlands. The combination of modern offices, a well-equipped production facility and highly trained employees makes it possible to deliver high-quality products and services, efficiently and quickly, for great value for money. As an organisation, we constantly develop and innovate.

The big Bemo Rail shunting innovations include our GE locomotives for Tata Steel, our train traversers for Euromax and the Maintenance Platform we developed for the STS trolley rails. In addition, we manufacture electric and hybrid locomotives and as soon as engines that run on hydrogen become available, we will be looking to use them, too. As for rail innovations, we started out with rail chairs, but these would be replaced by rail clips, as the latter proved to be more efficient. Our core business expanded rapidly with rails, sole plates, sleepers, buffers, rubber noses, cross pieces and casting materials. These products are always subject to innovation, whereby we focus on ways of using new, sustainable and durable materials in our production processes.”

Roland Garros Stadion

Bemo Rail is proud to be part of the unique construction of the retractable roof at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris. The roof construction moves over a rail when it is opend and closed, the rail, type A150, is supplied by Bemo Rail. The rail is also attached with rail clips supplied by Bemo Rail.

The Stade Roland-Garros is the center court during the annual Grand Slam tennis tournament in May and June. The 90-year-old stadium has been renovated for 80% to continue to meet the set requirements and to also be able to play during bad weather conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The animation video below gives an impression of the renovation:

 

Progress Tata Steel Quench loco 102 and 103

The construction of the 2 new quench loco’s is in progress and in a few months they will be ready for the factory purchase (FAT). The expectation is that these 2 locomotives will be ready for commissioning in the autumn. Bemo Rail has also received an order for the 4th quench loco (no. 104) from Tata Steel, we have started building the loc. This 104 is scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2020.

Bemo BRD50 loc for Lyondell

New Bemo Traverse TB100 LWR Maasvlakte

After a successful construction, a new Bemo TB100 Traverse was recently delivered to the newly built workshop of Locomotive Workshop Rotterdam BV on the Maasvlakte. The Siemens E-locs are maintained in this workshop, they are driving among others on Dutch tracks. In this workshop the traverse will move the locs from the arrival track, to the various workshop and parking tracks and vice versa.

The traverse serves the 2 arrival tracks, 6 workshop tracks and 8 parking tracks. By choosing the traverse a lot of space-consuming and expensive points of exchange street is saved. The traverse is equipped with all essential safety features and partly thanks to this and the semi-automatic operation, the operators can easily operate the traverse themselves. And the traverse is finished in beautiful Siemens gray.

BRDE80 progress for the Middle East

After the successful testing of the BRDR80 at the Steam Tram Museum in Hoorn, and the shipping of the 1st of the 2 locomotives, the 2nd BRDE80 is now also ready for transport. As soon as the two locomotives are at their destination, our technicians will further test them and put them into operation. They will take care of the shunting work at the depot, but if necessary also drive on the line. They can ride both solo and in double traction. The 2-axle locomotives are equipped with a diesel electric AC / AC drive and on the metro line itself they will be able to run at a speed of 50 km/ h.