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.

“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.”