Managing and maintaining 8,500km of rail network across five states and overseeing the massive Inland Rail Project, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is responsible for a great portion of the country’s railway assets. Brian Green, General Manager – Asset Management at ARTC, discusses the organisation’s strategies to standardise practices, analyse data and harness new technologies.
In his role at the ARTC, Brian Green is responsible for asset management, project delivery and maintenance of ARTC’s Interstate Network, which covers around 7,500km from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Port Augusta, Broken Hill, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Coffs Harbour and Brisbane.
Mr Green said ARTC’s priority in thinking strategically about maintaining assets over such vast distances was to align its corporate objectives and customer expectations through its asset management goals.
“Specific and measurable asset management goals have been developed to align all of our planning and investment and drive how our people pursue the optimisation of and value extraction from our assets,” Mr Green said.
For him, bringing these goals into alignment would help ARTC achieve its corporate vision: to improve Australia’s productivity by making rail the mode of choice in the national logistics chain.
Ahead of his participation in the rail stream at the 2019 Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Conference, taking place 20–21 August in Sydney, Mr Green said ARTC is focused on managing its assets based on risk and condition with its system based on the ISO 55000 standard.
“Over the past two years we have implanted various strategies to improve the understanding and use of our Enterprise Asset Management Systems (EAMS), processes and procedures by our people.”
The challenge of data analysis
Having evolved from three separate operators across five states, the challenge to align practices and achieve a common maintenance strategy and technical maintenance plan was previously ARTC’s largest challenge.
“This has now largely been achieved through deployment into the EAMS, Ellipse, and will be significantly enhanced with the deployment of the Ellipse mobility tool, Work Force Management (WFM), later this year,” Mr Green said.
Maintenance staff are now significantly more focused on effective asset management practice and with the new WFM mobile application, data quality, effectiveness and efficiency of inspections and minor works will continue to improve.
Today, ARTC’s main challenge is the interpretation of data –- to provide meaningful information on which to base asset management decisions.
“ARTC is rich in mass track recording data and reliability data, however, these systems tend to be fragmented and require significant effort to analyse.”
ARTC has recently completed its Asset Information Strategy, which has identified a number of IT system gaps which its staff are progressively dealing with. The corporation has now commenced a wider business digital strategy.
Recommendations for rail asset managers
So what is Mr Green’s primary tip for asset management professionals in rail?
“Data is king. And it requires an asset register with a solid foundation and a repeatable spatial referencing system,” he said.
“The network’s maintenance strategy should be deployed through the EAMS via the asset register to ensure that compliance to the maintenance strategy can be verified.
“The asset register should carry defects down to component level and the source of the defect must be traceable. Asking ‘What inspection activity were we doing when we found each defect?’ is important to enable maintenance effectiveness reviews.”
Mr Green said that in rail, the track and civil asset is the most expensive to maintain and attracts the greatest expenditure. However, smart asset management can mediate these costs.
“An accurate spatial centre line is paramount to managing track defects and condition so that automated mass inspection data and manual track inspection data can be aligned, and the location is repeatable regardless of the method or time of capture.”
Mr Green said with new technology rapidly transforming all areas of the field, it’s a far cry from the asset management of the past.
“Kilometre posts have long outlived their usefulness in the modern railway!”
Hear more from Brian Green in the stream ‘Asset management in the rail industry’ at the 2019 Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Conference, taking place 20–21 August in Sydney. Early bird ticket prices are available until 26 July. Register at assetmanagementevent.com.au/buy-tickets.