Lee Sands examines how the right asset management solution can help transport companies run on time and on budget while delivering excellent service to an ever-increasing flow of passengers
The transport industry as a whole is facing a record number of passengers, with a staggering 1.7 billion passengers travelling on the British Rail Network in 2016 – 2017, and air traffic set to increase to over 16 million flights a year by 2040. But, with increasing passenger numbers comes increased pressure on the transport operators, resulting in inevitable delays, cancellations and, of course, unhappy customers.
Recent research suggests that UK rail passengers lost 3.6 million hours due to significant delays in 2016-2017, and another survey found that 1 in 4 flights arrived late into UK airports in 2016. Such transport problems have always been far from ideal from both an operator and customer point of view but, magnified under the microscope of today’s ever-present social media, isolated, localised problems can now take on a life of their own. As we saw with the chaos caused by the changes to the rail timetable in May 2018, warranted or not, it doesn’t take much to create a national transport outcry, and transport companies are having to work harder than ever to provide optimum levels of service to huge numbers of passengers.
Dealing with a typically ageing infrastructure, multiple and complex assets, and the challenge of transporting customers safely and on time, many rail and air transport companies are turning to technology for help. The gradual shift from analogue to digital monitoring of assets has improved the speed and reliability of data capture, and many organisations are investing in systems to better collect, view and analyse the increasing amounts of data their assets are providing. Good Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems can help operators to achieve timely, efficient and profitable operations, monitoring assets more closely and using the resulting information to not only deliver necessary service levels but to work more efficiently, too.
For both the rail and airline industries, the sheer amount and complexity of assets, not to mention the interdependency of multiple assets, means that any solution which provides a comprehensive view of all assets and their condition is a huge bonus. With the right system in place, it’s possible to build an accurate and up-to-date picture of all resources, and their reliability, monitoring how assets behave and using this information to inform real efficiency and cost savings.
EAM systems provide an in-depth understanding of the cost, lifecycle and performance of every asset. By establishing a benchmark against which to measure downtime, it’s possible to identify exactly where performance improvements can be made. The ability to constantly and consistently measure performance against service level targets and wider business targets provides the concrete feedback on which to base recommended operational adjustments to ensure services are delivered on time and on budget.
Again, this ongoing asset monitoring enables organisations to accurately schedule maintenance to keep assets in a State of Good Repair (SGR), boosting reliability, mitigating against risk and optimising costs. The ability to add engineer competencies and qualifications into the system, combining all available data in a single solution, helps to match engineer capabilities to specific jobs for optimum efficiency. It’s this visibility over assets, tools, people and even warranty schedules that makes all the difference to efficient, timely maintenance.
When it comes to maintenance, the right EAM solution can help to stop the break/fix cycle by establishing a robust preventive maintenance programme, identifying looming faults and forecasting the optimal time for preventive maintenance before service levels are affected. It’s this move away from interval-based or corrective maintenance to the more efficient condition-based maintenance that boosts uptime, minimises unforeseen service disruptions and increases customer satisfaction, using the data from asset monitoring to form an accurate prediction of future asset performance.
Access to more timely, accurate and comprehensive information about your assets and the wider infrastructure means quicker reactions to impending failures, as well as the ability to rapidly schedule the correct engineers, parts and tools to the right location. In-built task planning and scheduling increase business agility further still, with advanced EAM systems putting your rail or air transport business in the best place and in the best shape to seize new opportunities, safe in the knowledge that you’re optimising your assets at every step of the way.
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