Railway Asset Management in Focus: Signalling Power Supplies

Developing and delivering an effective physical asset management system provides the foundation for all aspects of a safe, effective, efficient, environmentally-sound and high-performing business.

Sweating the asset is an old adage; however, it’s still important to understand how to extract maximum benefit from investments. An effective strategy is required to understand the asset condition, its lifespan in its location, use case and environment. Backing this asset information up, it is important to understand what effective closed-loop intervention looks like and to ensure that information, knowledge sharing, understanding and actions are linked across the entire organisation.

Asset Management

When considering the railway, Viper Innovations have made great strides toward transitioning from a maintenance organisation to one on the journey towards holistic Asset Management. Underpinning this and in the process of being interwoven into the fabric of the railway, the ISO 55000 suite of standards provides an international view as to what is needed to deliver an effective asset management system. However,  what is it that sits underneath the principles and processes that really drive an organisation forward?

Considering the Institute of Asset Management’s conceptual model for asset management, as described in their Anatomy of Asset Management, there are six groupings pulling together the Global Forum on Maintenance and Asset Management’s 39 subjects. These individual topics and logical groupings provide an essential model of the components that make up a comprehensive asset management approach.

An organisation, or indeed an interconnected industry like rail, must plot its path to effective asset management from these topics and groupings, delivering value from assets relative to the individual businesses and overall industry-as-a-service provision to the country and its direct customers. However, when considering the hierarchical nature of enterprise asset management for the rail industry, there are still a number of missing links related to understanding the individual assets within the hierarchy.

Considering the aforementioned topic groupings, when reviewing the linkages between Asset Information and Decision Making, the railway suffers from a lack of insight into some assets. This can present difficulties linking the base layer of the asset hierarchy with the layers above, effectively preventing holistic asset management. The issue is compounded when less visible yet critical assets like signalling power supplies remain in the background.

Remote condition monitoring assists in breaking down asset knowledge barriers – and when combined with reliability tools such as Failure Modes and Effects (FMEA) and Digital Twins, it becomes easier to fill in the blanks. While a reasonable level of maturity has been attained with some of the more visible assets using data, analysis and locational baselining to enable maintenance and to intervene proactively, it is, therefore, necessary to ensure service provision continuation. However, are we in a position with these assets where we fully understand what sweating the asset really means?

With signalling power supplies, it is now possible to push forward with the integration of fundamental assets into the management hierarchy. This system links together the vast majority of assets on the railway that are critical to delivering value for customers. Failures are catastrophic for service provision; maintenance is invasive, expensive and exposes safety risks. These safety issues and latent failures can remain undetected, and effective asset condition assessment is captured piecemeal and independent of environmental factors affecting the condition.

This position is changing, however. The new generation of remote condition monitoring systems, led by Viper Innovations’ CableGuardian system, enables a comprehensive change in how the asset is managed. The technology enables proactive monitoring to not only detect a failure but also to link asset information effectively to asset decision making, applying true asset management to the system.

CableGuardian has been designed and developed collaboratively with users to be more than just a maintenance tool. It provides real insight into the asset across its entire operational lifecycle in a comprehensive set of configurations and operating conditions. Working in partnership with the asset owner, it enables the monitoring of all required parameters of the asset remotely, continuously, accurately and to a range that allows all potential failure modes to be tracked. CableGuardian enables complete asset conditions to be captured and then predicted to a level of granularity that allows effective short, medium and long-term asset decision-making.

From this position, an organisation can link Asset Information with Asset Decision Making, predicting capital and operational expenditure a number of control periods ahead; predicting and preventing in-service failures; minimising disruption from itinerant vandalism and damage; creating asset replacement and life extension strategies that provide demonstrable closed-loop value and providing information that allows the whole enterprise to deliver a holistic service.

Welcome to the age of Asset Management, courtesy of CableGuardian from Viper Innovations!

This article was originally published by Viper Innovations.

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