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Interview with Uwe Bittroff: “System solutions from HÜBNER make an important contribution to the mobility transition!”

Uwe Bittroff is Managing Director of the HÜBNER Group, headquartered in Kassel. The company is an experienced system provider for the mobility industry. | All pictures: © HÜBNER

As a global and reliable supplier as well as an experienced system provider, the HÜBNER Group is a strong partner for the bus industry. In the run-up to Busworld Europe 2023, Managing Director Uwe Bittroff explains how the HÜBNER Group contributes to strengthening and further development of public transport with innovative products.

Mr Bittroff, if you had to describe the HÜBNER Group in one sentence, what would it be?

In addition to other business areas, we are the global system and solution provider for the bus industry and play a major role in shaping it with our products. We draw on the experience of almost 80 years of company history to strengthen and develop public transport sustainably together with our customers. Okay, that was more than one sentence, but that’s as much time as there has to be.

Absolutely. Now Busworld Europe 2023 is right ahead. What will you present to your customers and partners this year?

In general, we develop and produce customized solutions for buses of all kinds. We are convinced that our product solutions make a real difference in terms of comfort, accessibility, safety and reliability. At the fair, we will be presenting, among other things, a completely new type of hydropneumatic suspension and damping system. Suspensions without compressed air are the future, especially for E-mobility! The system ensures that vibrations are effectively damped, thus increasing ride comfort for drivers and passengers. Thanks to the innovative technology and the light, compact design, a lot of energy and space can be saved. The system thus offers the stability and energy efficiency that modern vehicle fleets need for the mobility transition.

The innovative hydropneumatic suspension and damping system improves the energy efficiency and driving comfort.

How does this technology work in practice?

Our alternative to compressed air is based on oil as the carrier fluid. Due to the high efficiency, more than two thirds of the energy used in lifting and lowering processes typical for buses can be saved. Our system gives buses a high level of driving comfort and stability – even on an uneven road.

That always depends a little on the steering. 

That’s a good keyword! Last year we presented our innovative steering technology for high-capacity buses to the public for the first time at InnoTrans 2022. Of course, we will also present the system at Busworld Europe. We are convinced that this steering technology can become a real gamechanger for public transport and the mobility transition! With this technology, we are already enabling the future – namely for autonomous driving.

HÜBNER supplies the innovative steering technology for the high-capacity bus, which is able to transport up to 300 passengers in the future.

Can you explain this in more detail?

High-capacity buses are – to put it very simply – trams on rubber wheels. They consist of three car sections with a total of six axles and two gangways and can transport up to 300 people! The heart of a safe and efficient high-capacity bus is undoubtedly a safe steering system. This is where HÜBNER’s steering technology comes in, intelligently linking the six axles of a bus thanks to software. This not only ensures a pleasant driving experience for passengers, but also takes into account the possibility of operation in both directions. And as I said, in all of this we have already taken into account a connection to interfaces for autonomous driving, which means that the steering system can also meet future requirements. And unlike conventional trams, they do not need their own rail network and can therefore be integrated into existing transport infrastructures. A real gamechanger.

Can you tell us more about passenger safety solutions in your products?

Passenger safety is our top priority – as is the cyber security of our systems, by the way. In addition to completely new product developments, we focus on the practical adaptation of existing systems. Pioneering is a new technology in finger protection profiles for the door safety and sealing system SensIQ touchless, which provides contactless safety with light grids. We have gone one step further and developed this system so that it can no longer only be used for sliding doors. Thanks to the innovative geometry, a light grid is now also cast at a 90-degree angle into the open entrance area of space-saving interior swing doors. In this way, SensIQ touchless detects persons or objects and protects them without contact. We also have newly developed safety contact strips in our portfolio. These make our SensIQ contact product compatible for all common door systems in public transport. The new model types ensure even more passenger safety through best fire protection.

Besides safety, there is another key issue in public transport. How does HÜBNER contribute to the promotion of accessibility?

Accessibility and inclusion are becoming increasingly important in public transport. This is a topic in which we have been very experienced for decades with our HÜBNER Transportation GmbH. Existing infrastructures and vehicles are often not sufficiently geared to the needs of people with limited mobility. And when ramps are available in vehicles but fail due to defects, there is often no fall-back level. Our new double ramp remedies this by combining electric and manual operation. This creates a reliable ”two-in-one solution“: if the automatic component fails, the manual folding ramp can be used as an alternative. In this way, downtimes during operation can be reduced and lengthy repairs avoided. This increases the reliability of the vehicles and ensures constant barrier-free access to the bus.

HÜBNER’s new double ramp combines an automatic and a manual folding ramp as a “two-in-one solution” for greater reliability.

What else can transport operators do to keep maintenance and repair-related downtimes as low as possible?

Long repair and maintenance times disrupt regular operations and usually also cause high costs. This is where we come in twice: with our new remote service and optimized spare parts shipping. As part of our remote service, our customers receive a link that connects them directly to one of our service technicians via video call. He can then give a live assessment of what is wrong with individual components and directly suggest a solution. In this way, we can offer our customers concrete solutions digitally and even faster, saving money and time. In addition, we have comprehensively optimized our shipping processes. If a customer orders a spare part by 2 p.m. on a working day, delivery within Germany usually takes place between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the next working day.

HÜBNER offers its customers a digital remote service, as well as even faster dispatch of spare parts. 

All in all, we at HÜBNER are always striving to make public transport safer, more comfortable, more reliable and, of course, more sustainable for companies and operators, drivers and passengers. We look forward to presenting these and many other solutions and innovations on site at Busworld Europe 2023.

Mr Bittroff, thank you for the interview.

The HÜBNER Group at busworld Europe 2023: 

The world market leader for articulated bus systems and key supplier to the mobility industry will be there with many other innovative systems, technologies and products. In Hall 7, Stand 755, the focus is on innovations for road vehicles of all kinds – from articulated and double-articulated buses to high-capacity buses and commercial vehicles.

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