Autumn Statement Response from Viper Innovations

Uncertainty has been the watchword for the UK Rail Industry for what seems like years. Changes in Government strategy, global pandemics, and the resulting changes to working practices have all contrived to make life in rail difficult.

However, recently we have seen Covid recovery for the railway being evidenced with the return to use of the trains. We are seeing major projects delivered with increased process and technical innovation. SMEs are being integrated into the industry and bringing with them new insights, technology and transformation, but with the fallout from the cost of living crisis, fuel costs and inflation  – and the other myriad pressures on the public purse – the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer is pushing to increase efficiencies further, drive down capital spending and generally tighten the government purse, as laid out in the recent Autumn Statement. So, more uncertainty to come, then.

Fault Detection

The Periodic Review, leading the way into Control Period 7, will try to work out how to deliver more with even less, attempting to reconcile the plans to move the railway forward with the need to meet Government spending targets. Pressure to drive up safety performance, eliminate red zone working and remove boots from ballast will require a fresh and innovative look at how work is delivered. The move from Franchising to Passenger Service Contracts for train operating companies will put severe pressure on the Network Rail asset management and maintenance teams to underpin customer satisfaction with vastly improved reliability and availability figures, allowing TOCs to maximise available revenue from the new contracts. And all of this is following the Modernising Maintenance/Management organisation changes, meaning there will be fewer people around to administer, plan and deliver the work.

So how are you going to manage these competing challenges? What can Asset Management and Maintenance Delivery Units do that will satisfy the different parties, drive up safety and performance, provide efficiency savings, reduce capital and deliver customer satisfaction? The answer is to find the missing piece of the jigsaw that brings together all the competing elements of the rail business and Government targets. This means continuing the push towards digital transformation and collaboration with technology SMEs with the export potential to deliver for UK PLC. The answer is Viper Innovations and CableGuardian.

One of the biggest challenges in containing all the competing elements is signalling power supplies. Failures on this asset are catastrophic for train performance, introduce unnecessary risks to staff working under pressure on or near the line, and are costly to remedy. Insulation resistance failures on cables and switchgear, cable theft, rodent damage and age degradation effectively render the signalling system inoperable, and reactive maintenance on the asset is extremely costly and disruptive. In addition, periodic maintenance and the whole failure management process generate high operational costs and a vast amount of hidden carbon released throughout the lifecycle.

Condition Monitoring

Introducing CableGuardian to your asset management and maintenance plan is a win across all fronts. The system has been developed progressively and collaboratively with Network Rail engineers to deliver precisely what is needed to drive the industry forward. In addition, the system monitors all parameters required, such as insulation resistance, insulation capacitance, voltage, current and volt drop, to allow real predictive interventions to be made well before the point of failure across the widest possible list of failure modes on cables, switchgear and transformers.

The system’s fundamental indicator, insulation resistance, is measured to levels that greatly surpass the competition, offering a chance to plan interventions well into the future and allowing the opportunity to move to a true asset management state. For the Route Asset Management team, this will enable you to set out and deliver spot-replacement of lineside assets instead of large-scale renewals, reducing capital requirements. It allows maintenance engineers to identify all potential precursors to failure and plan to intervene in a safe and controlled manner in a way that is invisible to the operator, maintaining route availability. And following a standards challenge driven by Network Rail engineers, CableGuardian can now be used to avoid having to perform periodic maintenance of the asset, which can reduce maintenance requirements at the Delivery Unit by approximately 80%.

Condition Monitoring

To date, CableGuardian has delivered approximately £5m in savings from avoided train failure, reduced incident management costs by £150K and reduced delay by approximately 30,000 minutes from a small number of demonstration sites alone. It is predicted that costs can be reduced by up to £10m per delivery unit across the asset’s lifecycle now that the standards changes are in place and routes are actively using it to fundamentally change how they deliver maintenance and asset management.

So, if you want to reduce uncertainty in the management of your most fundamental asset, achieve KPIs and still deliver outstanding safety and train performance, CableGuardian by Viper Innovations is the right investment.

Click here to read more about transforming the safety, performance and efficiency of your Railway Signalling Power Supplies system in our blog post ‘World Class Technology and Service for Railway Systems: Digital Transformation for Lineside Assets’.

This article was originally published by Viper Innovations.

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