GRE‘s quality team usually travels to our railcar manufacturers‘ facilities, so we can help to ensure that your railcars deliver on time while meeting the highest quality standards. However, COVID-19 related travel restrictions across Europe have made it impossible to follow our standard workflow. Within two weeks of the lock-downs starting in mid-March, our quality team has found a way to virtualize inspections without compromising quality during these trying times.
Our pilot project for virtual inspection was performed on 22 newly built, intermodal railcars that were inspected remotely in accordance to stringent protocol. The inspection took place via high-resolution video conferencing... with our quality team on one end and the manufacturer’s railcar experts on the other. The builder’s team performed a detailed inspection walkaround. Per live stream, the GRE team followed a detailed checklist guiding the manufacturer’s team. Beforehand, GRE sent a comprehensive briefing and performed test runs to ensure everyone was prepared to undergo the virtual inspection.
Following this initial pilot, we have expanded virtual inspections for new-build railcars to include other manufacturers. So far, we have carried out virtual inspections for many new railcars. Doing so has allowed us to balance supply chain delays and better manage travel during these times. Going forward we plan to resume physical inspections, but revert to virtual if and when necessary. We believe that it is an excellent tool for technical Q&A or to solve technical issues that we have previously solved.
This is just one way GRE is making railcar leasing easier for our customers.