In current economic environment, motivated by European specific policies, railway infrastructure managers are more and more focused on reducing operational costs, aiming, at the same time, to boost financial and safety performances. A first step towards achieving these goals is the efficient management of the organisation’s resources by implementing LAM applications (linear asset management).
In case of infrastructure managers, the large number of railway components and their different life cycle are a real challenge for a single management system. However, this is an opportunity for the players of the ERP market (a market estimated at more than EUR 50 Billion) to develop special modules for the asset management on railway companies, a rather difficult task considering the complexity and particularities of the rail networks. Companies such as Infor, IBM, Invensys, SAP and Oracle have adapted their integrated solutions to the specific needs of this sector and have positioned them on the linear asset management segment.
IBM Maximo LAM is one of the applications which permit asset management based on a linear model. Thus, the dynamic segmentation of the line (km or mile) includes “Features” which can be used to show level crossings or signals, “Attributes”, which can be used to show speed, ballast type or track number and “Linear relationships”, indicating intersections, or parallel track or roads. Hierarchical assets, such as stations, bridges and tunnels, can also be modelled in the same database.
Adopting the IBM Ilog solution has helped Dutch Railways improve operation efficiency by up to 6%, saving almost EUR 20 Million/year. Trying to meet the multiple maintenance demands of the high-speed transport, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) has also adopted the IBM Maximo. An important reference for IBM is also the implementation of this solution for KiwiRail, a project worth USD 3 Million.
Assessing the success of implementing the IBM application and reffering to Gartner Report G00122453, Ken Donelli – Worldwide Transportation Industry Leader IBM, lists among customers’ benefits, the growth of Labor utilization (by 10 to 20%) and the asset availability (by 3 to 10%). In terms of savings, these have been registered in business lines, such as purchase of new equipments (by 3 to 5%), warranty recovering (by 10 to 50%), stocks (by up to 30%), costs associated with stock management (by up to 20%), acquisition (by 10 to 50%).
References for the LAM developers can also be found in the area of underground infrastructure managers. Chongqing Metro (Group) Co. Ltd. (CRT) and Shenzhen Metro have chosen to implement the LAM application developed by Infor, thus managing to grow by up to 90% the availability of their facilities. At the end of last year, Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) signed a contract for implementing a LAM system developed by Mincom. According to the declarations of John Moran, Regional Vicepresident of Public Infrastructure APAC – Mincom, the company will deliver an integrated platform with the help of which decision makers can collect, visualise, analyse and then act based on the extensive information on their linear assets – MTM will be capable to decide what activities to develop, when and how. Guangzhou Metro (China) is developing a vast infrastructure development project that will rank the underground in the area in the top of the most crowded underground networks in the world, with more than 4 million passengers/day. By implementing the Maximo application, the company has sought to increase the efficiency of asset management by extending their life cycle and to maximise the passengers’ safety and comfort.
Condition based maintenance – Challenge for LAM
Including the concept of condition based maintenance in the cost-cut optimisation strategy complicates even more the situation of EAM and LAM applications. The general approach used by existing solutions has created a niche for the rail companies specialized in developing inspection, monitoring and diagnosis technologies. Mermec, Thales and Bentley have developed their own products that are complementary with and can be integrated to the platforms developed in IT companies.
Pietro Pace, RAMSYS Product Line Manager Mermec, justifies the strategy by the fact that the EAM, ERP and CMMS systems, currently available on the market, are not capable to manage the data about the assets and their condition in an efficient and integrated way, data generated by the diagnosis systems. Also, they do not include specific analysis systems (time and space visualisation, modelling damages) to sustain the planning and control of condition based maintenance.
Relying on experience in the railway field, the Italian company Mermec has developed a unique, integrated platform for managing the entire range of railway infrastructure maintenance data, while fully supporting the condition based maintenance, short and long term planning, maintenance control and monitoring key performance indicators.
Collecting exact, real time information on the asset condition implies an exhaustive analysis of the infrastructure and superstructure: from the ballast condition, to track geometry and the thickness of high-tension wires. If we were to analyse the current situation of CFR SA, any CMMS (computerized maintenance management solutions) and EAM platforms should integrate features of the condition of 10,800 km of track, available equipments, the condition of 17,170 bridges and culverts, 969 stations, 29,541 turnouts etc. The significant volume of resulted data (in some cases, by up to 1 terabyte/month) requires integration in a performing system, capable to identify key connexions among components, to render their operation history, to generate scenarios and to forecast optimal times for system intervention.
In the Wider Black Sea Area, Serbian Railways (ZS), TDCC and Macedonian Railways are already using the RAMSYS solution. ZS has conducted a EUR 3 Million investment for examining the railway equipments installed on Corridor X and on the Serbian section of line Belgrade-Bar (Montenegro). Pietro Pace, RAMSYS Product Line Manager says that the return on invested capital can be measured while reviewing a set of tangible and intangible indicators (increasing the transparency level, improving decision support). Tangible indicators refer to the 30% reduction in maintenance costs. Among such benefits, Pace indicates reducing the number of accidents, mostly derailments, controlling dynamic forces, changing the strategy from corrective maintenance to predictive maintenance, minimising the disturbance of rail traffic, optimising the purchase strategy. Also, he motivates the implementation of a RAMSYS system by the fact that “railway assets represent by far the most expensive item in the railway industry, consuming maintenance & railway expenditures of monstrous proportions every year. This make automatically almost self-evident that even marginal improvements in the maintenance & railway management would most certainly yield more than significant absolute savings”.
Considering the significant amount of money to be invested worldwide in the modernisation, extension of construction of new lines (China authorities have announced investments totalling almost USD 530 Billion), purchasing enterprise asset management solutions capable to underpin infrastructure managers in increasing operation transparency and in defining future activities is a must.