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Freight Car Manufacturer



Freight Car Manufacturer


Largest domestic producer of freight cars asked Highland to reengineer its product life cycle process to address design reliability and customer satisfaction issues.


  • Develop design processes to reduce warranty cost by 17%.
  • Develop and implement process improvements to support additional annual operating earnings.


  • Developed a product consolidation strategy to reduce structural diversity and maintenance of design.
  • Reduced initial warranty cost per line shipped by more than 17%.
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Case Study

Optimize Reliability & Improve Customer Satisfaction


The largest domestic producer of freight cars asked The Highland Group to reengineer its product life cycle process to address design reliability and customer satisfaction issues that were driving a large reserve for warranty costs into its financials.

Highland Approach

The Highland Group conducted a Discovery and Design process that identified and detailed key issues, the specific approach required to achieve the desired results and the projected benefits.

Actions Taken

  • Developed and deployed a customized stage gate engineering process that aligned time-phased design tasks to deliver vehicles fully compliant to Federal Department of Transportation requirements.
  • Developed a design analysis process to screen, control, evaluate and approve structural design content of cars altered by customer requirements, usage or railroad environment changes.
  • Re-aligned and rewrote Engineering procedures (30) to establish auditable documentation that complied with regulatory requirements.
  • Streamlined and simplified a multi-corporate acquisition legacy system for Engineering change control that enhanced the process, clarified procedures and adjusted organizational roles resulting in less paperwork, better control and clearer accountability.
  • Implemented control measures reducing reliability risks from unproven designs.
  • Assisted management in the full deployment of the concurrent engineering process across 21 product lines and 6 manufacturing plants.
  • Developed and implemented archival management strategies and processes for ”as built” histories, vendor drawings and the structural “record of type” in support of design, warranty reviews and litigation.
  • Developed a customer information database tool that provided access to all pertinent customer technical specifications and requirements by freight car type.
  • Implemented improvements to customer management and responses to RFQs.

Reduced initial warranty cost per line shipped by more than


achieved full compliance to federal audit requirements

Related Information

subject matter-based

Project Leader

Manufacturing & Industrial

Joseph is a senior executive with more than 40 years of international industry management and consulting experience, primarily in the areas of process improvement, working capital optimization and operational metrics. Having served in more than 21 countries around Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim, and North America, Joseph is skilled at implementing successful and sustainable change programs in culturally diverse environments.