Ahead of Schweizer Electronic SPOTLIGHT: North event, Quadrant Transport sits down with Neil Bradbury, Managing Director of Schweizer Electronic Ltd, to give an overview of the company, the hopes for the future and why keeping a family business ethos is the key to longevity.
Schweizer Electronic AG was first established back in 1964. It is a family business, and it was set up by Rudolf and Margrit Schweizer and in 1988, ownership was passed on to their son, Peter who is still the chairman of the board and CEO. The parent company is based in Reiden in Switzerland with the UK subsidiary founded in 2005.
When first created, Schweizer Electronic AG was predominantly in business to develop and deploy the first automatic warning systems to ensure safety on railway worksites. In 1990 it introduced Minimel 90, a fully electronic warning system.
Neil joined in early 2020 and was thrown in at the deep end as the pandemic hit not long after. He told Quadrant Transport that the family business ethos is what attracted him to Schweizer Electronic and said: “Peter [CEO] really enjoys getting involved in the day-to-day running [of the business]. He sees the potential in the markets and our products in those markets.
“The focus is that we provide safe systems and our systems are tried and tested and trusted by people who use them and he thrives on knowing we are providing safe systems to workers and to the public who use level crossings” added Neil.
Family values are essential for longevity
These family values spread internationally back to the Switzerland HQ and within their recruiting processes. Quadrant Transport was told: “There are 6 or 7 board members and we regularly discuss how things are going and honestly look at how we can improve. The ‘family huddle’ is there to make sure everything is okay. It makes coming up with solutions a lot easier because of the family ethos that we have here.”
Despite the Coronavirus, Schweizer Electronic Ltd was able to bring in two new people over the Christmas period in 2020/21. “I knew they could do the jobs that they were brought in to do. So, the interview wasn’t so much an interview but a conversation to see how well we get on together. You can teach people how to do a job, but you can’t teach people how to react to customer situations or interactions with people, that’s an individual thing you either have or don’t.”
VAMOS level crossings are the pride and joy
Moving on to specific products that Schweizer Electronics deliver, Quadrant Transport was told all about their Value and Money System (VAMOS) level crossing. Neil explained: “It is a user working crossing for rural locations and small crossings on lines up to 75mph. We developed it with Network Rail for use on their infrastructure in the UK and it is working so well that we have now installed over 180 and we have orders in place for at least another 70 this year.
The focus is that we provide safe systems and our systems are tried and tested and trusted by people who use them
“It is a product that we are very proud of. It is the simplicity of the product that has allowed Network Rail to deploy these units so quickly. They only take a day to install and commission. It is so simple; it ticks a lot of boxes for project delivery.”
Project Speed is a hot topic in the rail industry at the moment and something that Schweizer Electronic are eager to be a part of. This is helped as they offer many solutions that have simple designs, common componentry and have a short installation time.
Neil finished off by expressing his excitement for the future of the recently announced Project Speed: “It is a huge step in the right direction for our industry and we can showcase our products one-day installation. I am watching the roll out and implementation really closely and I look forward to seeing how it works out.”