Industry-Academia Collaboration to Improve Rail Depot Efficiency

East Midlands Railway (EMR) is working with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to develop a simulation tool that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its Nottingham Eastcroft depot.

This site provides day-to-day maintenance for EMR’s regional fleet, which is made up of Class 156, 158 and 170 trains.

EMR team up with University of Sheffield AMRC on depot simulation tool
EMR team up with University of Sheffield AMRC on depot simulation tool

By simulating shopfloor activities, EMR will be able to better identify capacity constraints and plan and stress test operational scenarios, adding a dimension of scenario planning that was previously difficult and time consuming to accomplish.

The project, financed by the Network Rail Performance Improvement Fund, has seen AMRC engineers working closely with operations staff at EMR to build a representative model of the depot by gathering data on the depot’s rules, processes and train movements.

The model will incorporate the depot, local roads and a range of units, providing a virtual representation of activities over a 24-hour period and assisting the current ‘beat-rate’ exercise.

Richard Gardiner, Senior Innovation fellow and Sector lead for Rail at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), said:

“We're collaborating to assess the application of state-of-the-art process flow simulation tools to assist the efficiency and effectiveness of rail depot operations.

“These tools create a virtual simulation of activities taking place on the shopfloor and give the user the power to identify capacity constraints, model scenarios and rapidly visualise the impact on performance.

“Since usability is a key feature of the project, a user-friendly interface is being developed that allows users to adjust variables and model scenarios without detailed process modelling software knowledge.

“As a net result of all the features and components of the model, depot operations can be made more efficient with an improved unit availability and better service to the public.”

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