Streamlining rail operations: The power of a single source of truth


Establishing a single source of truth in the rail industry is vital for optimising rail safety, saving time, and reducing admin. Digital rail technology can play a pivotal role. Storing rail data on a centralised digital hub helps to facilitate easy access to critical updates in real-time, ensuring that information is consistently up to date at any given moment.

This is a necessity in a fast-moving industry, where data rapidly evolves, and communication is spread across multiple individuals and departments. Below we explain some of the most prevalent challenges our customers face and outline how our digital products are effectively tackling them.

Challenges of managing vehicle maintenance records

The challenge:

Rail vehicle maintenance records and the corresponding maintenance requirements are often logged in spreadsheets and saved in multiple locations as scanned PDFs. This presents significant challenges in terms of control, management, and tracking. The current workflow necessitates that an engineer first completes their paperwork, and then, as a second step, returns files to the office for manager for approval.

Subsequently, these documents are stored in a document library or shared drive, where each user follows their own naming and listing conventions. This decentralised approach makes it difficult to locate information specific to individual machines quickly and easily.

The solution:

To streamline and eliminate these cumbersome steps, RTS developed a product – RTS Asset Management – to manage and maintain rail assets, with functionality for creating and displaying maintenance activities to users on their desktop or mobile devices. These records can be updated in real-time, allowing engineers to instantly report completed tasks, faults, or comments, thereby facilitating prompt action and decision-making.

Updates on maintenance completion % and task completion rates

The challenge:

Deciphering crucial handwritten documents from on-site rail engineers can be challenging due to numerous factors such as adverse weather conditions, poor handwriting, damaged or dirty documents. Furthermore, having various physical documents filed across different areas makes monitoring the status and progress of maintenance jobs, as well as engineers’ qualifications and exam history, a difficult task.

The solution:

RTS Asset Management sets out updates on maintenance completion percentages, task completion rates, and comments in the required format. Engineers can report completed tasks, faults, or comments instantly, improving efficiency and facilitating quick decision-making. There is no need to decipher freeform text or contend with poor handwriting, as all this information is recorded in a single, easily accessible location. You can also view a full and detailed history of maintenance exams, as well as a full breakdown of future scheduled exams and events.

Having all data available in one location ensures easy access by anyone within the business with a valid login. Data can be easily found, is up-to-date and can be verified by the sign-off-process, ensuring it is recorded in a standardised manner.

The platform helps to eliminate the time lost in sending documents for review, sign-off, or further actions, as the data is available as soon as it is entered. There is no more wasted time trying to track down historical information, as all data is stored within the platform.

Streamline maintenance tasks by digitising VMIs

The challenge:

Vehicle Maintenance Instructions (VMIs) are instructions for engineers on how to carry out a maintenance task. These physical files are costly, paper-intensive, only valid at the time of printing and time consuming to update, should the VMI file relate to different models of machine.

The solution:

RTS Asset Management introduces detailed digital VMIs that can be utilised across machine types and models. This approach ensures engineers have access to accurate, up-to-date files. They can access the files at their fingertips via their mobile device, allowing them to maintain machines to the highest standards, using the correct parts and consumables. Manufacturers’ updates are seamlessly communicated, ensuring machines remain under warranty and safe for operation.

‘Sometimes a picture can paint a thousand words’

The challenge:

Trying to explain which component needs to be changed, what ‘good’ looks like, when an item should be changed based on a condition, or ‘How To’ carry out a complicated task or provide guidance can be difficult when working in depot or when out and about in the field.

The solution:

Passing on experience and knowledge is essential to businesses wanting to maximise machine availability. RTS Asset Management recognises the value of visual aids in conveying complex information. It allows for documents, how-to guides, as well as manufacturers guidance and standards to be stored against machines and maintenance activities, allowing engineers to access critical information instantly when they are on-site. Having files stored in a central location minimises the time spent searching for or requesting assistance. Updating the systems with the relevant files is a one-time activity, there is no need to update multiple files in multiple locations. Simply update, save, and gain access quickly and easily with no fuss.

Efficiency in Daily Work Returns with RTS Mobile

The challenge:

Essential Daily Work Returns completed on-site during infrastructure maintenance often involve cumbersome spreadsheets and poorly designed PDFs. These forms lack planned-for information, are difficult to complete and are only available to one person, so not everyone can access them.

Lack of planned data means time is spent transferring data before shifts or during the engineer’s visit on-site, leading to wasted time and inaccurate forms. Completed forms are subsequently emailed back to the control room for review, and then converted into a PDF format for submission to Network Rail. All these processes are manual and time consuming.

The solution:

RTS Mobile, with direct links to work and resource management, presents DWR forms on a mobile application on a user’s mobile device alongside a full and detailed list of the operatives planned work shifts, leave and other events. for the coming weeks. Designed for simplicity, these forms are accessible to multiple users, automatically populated with planned data, and follow a streamlined workflow.

Anyone assigned to the work can complete the form as multiple users can access the app. Designed around the engineers’ needs, the forms are user-friendly, segmented for simplicity and follow a meticulous workflow. Planned data is populated automatically, eliminating the need for users to spend time entering details such as work site, times, locations, and crew information. The completed forms can be instantly reviewed and submitted to Network Rail, eliminating delays, and enhancing overall efficiency.

It’s clear that adopting a single source of truth through digital solutions is an instrumental way to overcome rail industry challenges. As rail operations move towards a more connected and efficient future, digital innovations pave the way for transformative change.

For more on how RTS products can support you, take a look at our blog, ‘We’ve got a solution for that’, or contact us today.