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All Aboard! Engineer Your Mission-Critical Asset Information So It Doesn’t Go Off The Rails

Do you know what year the first steam engine locomotive was invented? 1804. It traveled 9 miles in two hours. Now, you and I would be pretty upset of we boarded a train and it took 2 hours to go 9 miles. But, 200 years ago, this was a huge innovation and led to the invention of the modern day train and railway.

Tremendous Growth In Demand for Rail Travel Puts Pressure on Rail Infrastructure
Today, Britain is experiencing tremendous growth in demand for rail travel. One million more trains and 500 million more passengers travel by train than just 5 years ago. Over the next 30 years passenger demand for rail will more than double and freight demand is expected to go up by 140%. This puts tremendous pressure on the rail infrastructure.

Is it hard to make sense of your mission-critical asset information because it's scattered across multiple applications?

Is it hard to make sense of your valuable asset information because it’s scattered across multiple applications?

Network Rail is in the modern-day rail business. Employees work day and night running, maintaining and updating Britain’s rail infrastructure, including millions of assets, such as 22,000 miles of track, 6,500 crossings, 43,000 bridges, viaducts and tunnels. Improving the rail network provides faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys between Britain’s towns and cities.

Network Rail is investing more in the rail infrastructure than in Victorian times. In the last six months, they spent about $25 million a day! In a recent news release, Patrick Bucher, group finance director said, “We continue to invest record amounts to deliver a bigger, better railway for passengers and businesses across Britain. We are also driving down the cost of running Britain’s railway to help make it more affordable in the years ahead.”

Employees Need to Trust Asset Information to Pinpoint and Fix Problems Quickly
To pinpoint and fix problems quickly, keep their operating costs low and maintain a strong safety record, Network Rail’s employees need to trust their mission-critical asset information, such as:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Where is it?
  3. What equipment, tools and skills are needed to fix it?
  4. Who is closest to the problem that could fix it?

Difficult to Make Sense of Asset Information Scattered across Applications
Similar to many companies their size, Network Rail’s mission-critical asset information was scattered across many applications, which made it difficult for employees to make sense of asset information and the interaction between assets.

The asset information team recognized the limitations of employees depending on an application-centric view of their business. To operate more efficiently and effectively, they needed clean asset information, consistent asset information, and connected asset information.

Investing in Rail Infrastructure AND the Information Infrastructure to Support It
Network Rail now uses a combination of data integration, data quality, and master data management (MDM) to manage their mission-critical asset information in a central location on an ongoing basis, to:

  1. make sense of asset information,
  2. understand the relationships between assets, and
  3. track changes to asset information.

In a news release, Patrick Bossert Director of Network Rail’s Asset Information services business said, “With more accurate and reliable information about assets and their condition our team can make better business decisions, enable innovation in our asset management policy, planning and execution, and improve  rail-system-wide investment decisions that benefit the rail industry as a whole.”

If you work for a company that revolves around mission-critical asset information, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can our employees makes sense of our asset information?
  2. Can they easily see relationships between assets and how they interact?
  3. Can they see the history of changes to asset information over time?

Or are are they limited by an application-centric view of the business because asset information is scattered across in multiple systems?

Have a similar story about how you are managing your mission-critical asset information? Please share it in the comments below.

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2 Responses to All Aboard! Engineer Your Mission-Critical Asset Information So It Doesn’t Go Off The Rails

  1. Stephan Zoder says:

    Excellent post, Jakki.

  2. Enjoyed your post and are working on bringing industry professionals together for an event on this in London.

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