How to take control of your rail asset data for better maintenance outcomes

Published October 26, 2020 in Blog

This Trapeze blog post is Part 1 of 2 in a series regarding rail asset data management. Read Part 2- The Trapeze Approach to Better Rail Asset Management.

Every single day, rail organisations are required to manage asset datasets from multiple hardware types and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) – usually across diverse technology platforms. Making these independent datasets more accessible is essential for effective rail asset maintenance.

We already know that most rail technology solutions that interface with asset classes, such as rolling stock, linear assets and facilities are equipped with status monitoring capabilities. Monitoring ensures their condition and operational status is easily accessed, and any change in operating parameters can be viewed in real-time and actioned on quickly.

As the cost of this asset monitoring technology reduces, it is now implemented more throughout organisations, creating a new challenge – data overload. Making sense of multiple data streams from an ever-increasing list of sources is becoming a new challenge faced by rail maintenance managers, and asset management teams.

Channelling this information into one, ‘single source of truth’, enables simplified and effective Condition Based Maintenance (CBM). CBM allows rail operators to determine when to conduct preventative maintenance to minimise the likelihood of equipment failure and potential outages.

One of the biggest advantages in having a single source of truth is having all your data and business rules located in one technology solution – system users now have the ability to focus on what’s important to them, while still enabling management to have total oversight across all teams and departments.

In addition to delivering a simplified view of complex data streams, a single source of truth stores all transactional information relating to asset condition data. It also enables a rail operator to discover trend failures over time and predict when future failures are likely to occur. This data repository has the potential to lead to predictive asset management – if we can understand the past performance of our assets, we can make accurate assumptions on how specific assets will perform in the future.

A ‘Single Source of Truth’: What Does it Mean?

In the asset management space, the term ‘single source of truth’ is gaining popularity – with rail organisations applying their definition to suit their business. Recently, I observed an example where a transport operator used this term to describe how complex business processes interface with each other. However, this was not one consolidated approach, but multiple processes with asset data located across many systems.

While the above example demonstrates how an organisation can map and plan their processes around each unique application, it does not promote interoperability at a software level. Rail operators often experience a siloed approach to asset management – where there is no single dashboard view available on how all datasets operate and interact together.

A single source of truth should incorporate all the following rail segments.

How to Consolidate and Simplify Rail Maintenance Data

An Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system, customised for rail operations, consolidates multiple asset data streams into a single, centralised solution. An EAM system rationalises business processes and reporting capabilities – thus increasing efficiencies.

Asset equipment manufacturers do provide condition information and notifications linked to their defined intervention levels. While this is important granular data, information also needs to be proactively managed and monitored at a high level to ensure operational KPIs are met.

If an organisation only has business processes implemented for data management, this creates inefficiencies. It is also time-consuming for users who need to manually collate, and merge data sets for their business systems. Conversely, integrating data into a single area at a software application level ensures data can be easily accessed in real-time, optimising the way individuals view and report information – and increasing staff productivity.

Centralised Asset Management and ISO55001

Once a solution enables interoperability at a software level, you can improve existing processes around asset management, based on a centralised dataset of asset condition information.

Rail operators can achieve the following improvements with an integrated asset management platform:

    • Centralised track access requests, consist management, and signalling systems
    • Consolidated performance reporting and failure analysis
    • Every rail asset class can provide information to the same solution.

With the best available asset information, maintenance and asset management teams will understand what is required to develop preventative maintenance plans and manage asset condition-based datasets effectively.


In everyday life, rail operators interpret machinery condition information from a ‘centralised’ source of some form, for analysis. Maintenance planners do not need to understand every single data element. However, when pre-defined asset condition parameters are not met, operators need to be notified as soon as possible.

A centralised EAM solution can help your organisation effectively merge critical data elements from your existing business systems into a united network. This information can then flow through into a ‘common data layer’, which is made accessible to the relevant people who require it to make informed decisions.

Once the common data layer has successfully interfaced into existing systems, you unlock the capability to perform advanced analytical reporting and trend analysis based on historical asset data. Furthermore, a solution that is built for rail will also deliver on industry-specific business processes such as track access requests and consist management.

Your organisation will achieve improved results in productivity, efficiency and safety by implementing an EAM system that includes purpose-built modules that meet rail industry requirements, as well as meeting ISO55001 guidelines.

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Enterprise Asset Management

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