Up to a quarter of a billion €: "Contract of the century" for MFL
January 27, 2023
Spectacular success for the domestic industry: With a major order Maschinenfabrik Liezen und Gießerei (MFL) gets the production of innovative freight wagons to Austria. In the first phase, the Austrian rail expert will manufacture 40 novel high-end freight wagons with which lorry transports can simply be shifted from road to rail. In the long term, this commitment should bring the leading company sales of a quarter of a billion €.
Maschinenfabrik Liezen und Gießerei (MFL) has laid down the tracks to become the expert for international trail transport technology already many years ago. With the largest contract ever won in the history of the company, MFL‘s strategic direction will be in full swing: To begin with, 40 high-end freight wagons will be manufactured for the German enterprise Helrom, a company highly-specialised in rail freight logistics, by the end of this year. The associated contract volume, which amounts to a double-digit million sum, shall significantly increase in the long term. After a one-year production start-up phase, Helrom can opt to prolong the production of these innovative freight wagons until 2033. In this case, the project scope would increase to several hundred wagons and just under a quarter billion euro.
“In fact, it is not an exaggeration to speak of a hundred-year-contract for MFL. This refers not only to the contract volume but particularly to the innovative strength and sustainability emanating from the freight wagons manufactured. Being a supplier of complete vehicles ready-for-rail we have together with the client developed an innovative and economic solution throughout the complete production cycle that makes us an internationally competitive business partner,” says MFL Managing Director Herbert Decker and emphasises: ”The trust thus placed in us is a wonderful confirmation both of the comprehensive manufacturing know-how we have built up over decades and our technological clout particularly in the field of rail vehicle engineering. In only three years we have managed to realise our objective to firmly establish ourselves as a full-package supplier in the international rail vehicle industry - from cast components to welded units through to vehicles ready-for-rail. It is very clear for owner representative Reinhard Haider: ”The customer’s decision for the production in Austria and the acknowledgement of the competence of our employees in Liezen cannot be overestimated.”
“A day of real joy for the business location Styria”
Christopher Drexler, Governor of the Province of Styria, declares: “This is a day of real joy for the business location Styria. This excellent news from a great local company show that even in such uncertain times there is good reason for confidence and optimism. Because this is not only a spectacular and forward-looking project to be implemented here in Styria, this will also generate sustainable economic momentum throughout Austria – and thus secure important jobs in the region. Helrom and MFL together demonstrate real entrepreneurial strength and visionary power – the opportunities and capabilities our Styria is famous for.”
The Styrian Minister of Economic Affairs Barbara Eibinger-Miedl underlines: “This new manufacturing contract impressively demonstrates the competence of Styria and particularly of the company Maschinenfabrik Liezen in the fields of mobility as well as mechanical and plant engineering. Thanks to the innovative power of the company and the development of this forward-looking freight transport solution, MFL strengthens the business region Liezen and at the same time makes an essential contribution to more green mobility in the transportation of goods. Simply for guidance: A freight train requires about 20 per cent of the energy of a lorry and causes only 25 per cent of its climate-damaging emissions.
“Green” freight logistics with genuine revolutionary potential
MFL is therefore an important cooperation partner in Helrom’s vision of sustainable freight logistics. This vision allows lorries to cover long distances between international economic centres by rail in a "barrier-free” way with the help of these novel wagons, so-called trailer wagons. Meaning: For the loading from road to rail, more than 95 percent of the semi-trailers currently used in Europe need costly loading terminals which are moreover only available at a few locations. Helrom solves this problem by allowing the trailer wagon to swing out to the side. This means that the semi-trailers can be shifted onto the wagon with the help of a tractor - without requiring terminal and crane. A level surface next to the rail track is sufficient. In this way, simple loading tracks or sidings are promoted to the loading and unloading zone of an entire freight train, with a loading time of only two minutes per trailer. Due to this globally patented technology, freight traffic can be shifted from road to rail more easily and quickly. According to Helrom this is “a decisive contribution to meet the European climate targets “.
10,000 tons fewer CO2 emissions
Decisive factor: This freight wagon technology can be used universally – and now it is being manufactured in Austria. “We have deliberately opted for a European premium-quality solution. The machine and plant manufacturer MFL has the competence to produce such a sophisticated product which is a 'machine on rails’, much more than just a freight wagon. Generally, a product for environmentally friendly transportation on rail is only as sustainable as the underlying production of the necessary components and vehicles. With MFL we have found a partner experienced in planning and implementation, for whom sustainability plays an overriding role,” explains Helrom CEO Roman Noack. Helrom already operates a fully frequented connection between Vienna and Düsseldorf with the logistical catchment area of Hungary, Romania, and Serbia up to the Benelux countries and Great Britain. Roman Noack emphasises the enormous contribution to the reduction of CO2: ”For each trailer every Helrom train saves up to 700 kg CO2 per semi-trailer for the distance from Vienna to Düsseldorf. On this connection alone, at least 16,000 truck trailers of numerous forwarders and shippers were shifted from road to rail by the end of 2022. This corresponds to saving more than 10,000 tons of CO₂ emissions.
Historic headstone: Millions invested at the Liezen location
The major contract entails millions of investments at the location. The MFL business field Mechanical Engineering will be further upgraded with targeted measures amounting to six million €. At the top of the comprehensive investment programme is one of Europe's largest high-tech welding robot systems. The production line with a total length of 40 metres is designed for several welding robots. There, workpieces up to a length of 28 metres and a weight of up to 20 tons can be processed. “Three years ago, we proclaimed the mission to establish a Central European centre to produce innovative freight wagons in Liezen. Now, the historic headstone has been laid to catch up also technologically with the major rail vehicle manufacturers,” explains MFL Managing Director Decker. MFL’s major contract was preceded by an intensive increase of personnel: In the last three months alone, the 700-strong company has hired around 50 new employees. Nevertheless, further jobs are to come: 20 positions are currently being advertised - especially chipping technicians, varnishers and welding technicians are being sought.