Good facilities for vehicles and people are proven to aid depot productivity and boost morale, enhancing maintenance quality.
This is the conclusion drawn by the rail industry’s National Task Force (NTF), a cross-sector organisation looking for ways to improve punctuality and exceed customers’ needs.
A workshop held in 2007 to discuss the next big step change in reliability concluded that good maintenance facilities are just as important in providing reliable trains as modifications to the vehicles themselves. The outcome was a 20-point plan, published in December 2015, put together by active members of a sub-group, that will now act as a template for future high performing maintenance facilities.
It will not always be possible to justify all of the features that appear in the NTF’s list, however, it argues the true cost of not providing certain equipment should be taken into account. For example, storing consumables offsite, could result in many lost man hours – even years – over the course of a franchise.
The 20-point plan has two main aims. Firstly, to encourage designers to consider depot flow when specifying new or upgraded facilities, thereby minimising the number of vehicle movements and maximising touch time. Secondly, depot operators need clear plans in place for the overhaul of handling equipment. It is recognised that trains have a finite life and these same principles need applying to the technology within workshops.
In its discussion of maintenance berths, the NTF identifies that all depots still servicing diesel trains should have suitable exhaust extraction. Improving air quality and the working environment is a growing trend worldwide and it is recognised as key among maintenance providers to making cost and efficiency savings through better recruitment and retention of staff.
Flexible exhaust hoods offer clear environmental benefits, guaranteeing the removal of diesel fumes at source. The Blaschke Extraction Systems we supply cater for any type of locomotive and reduce noise and energy consumption dramatically, through the use of smaller pipes and fans.
Where justified, the 20-point plan suggests a bogie drop pit should be provided in at least one maintenance bay to enable a normal bogie to be serviced without impacting on other roads or having vehicles stood outside the building.
We pride ourselves on designing versatile Bogie Drops that fit seamlessly into any depot, making a complete change feasible within two hours.
Ensuring the road is safe for other traffic when the pit is not in use is paramount, which is why we install rail beams on top of the drop that latch into place. By employing an intelligent screw jack system, we can also greatly reduce pit depth and the associated civil costs, without compromising access to the undercar module.
Jacks are already a given at most depots, but the NTF identifies that at least one set suitable for the synchronised lift of a full train should be available and where justified, there ought to be separate units for planned component change or heavy maintenance.
Thanks to our patented Megalink controller, an almost unlimited number of Jacks can now be operated together to lift the longest trains, saving vital depot time.
Megalink is the most flexible and technically advanced controller on the market, offering constant feedback on the lift, as well as minimising installation costs. The largest system produced to date is a 44-jack chain, which is used to service 11-car Pendolinos on the UK’s West Coast Mainline.
A wheel lathe is one of the maintenance products identified in the 20-point plan as fundamental to modern depots.
The NTF suggests a ground lathe should be provided on the ratio of 1:300 vehicles, it should be capable of exporting data to industry systems and installed on a road long enough to allow any vehicle to be placed on the unit in its normal formation.
We recommend the high quality Koltech Wheel Lathes that can be adapted to suit any type of vehicle. They are available in single or tandem arrangements and stand on compact foundations, again keeping civil costs to a minimum.
The NTF’s 20-point plan is a tool to help businesses improve rolling stock performance by sharing hard-earned knowledge.
To achieve a preventative maintenance culture, we need to move away from our industry’s reactionary past and focus on delivering modern equipment and technology that will achieve the faster maintenance times to which we aspire.
Only by recognising that our depots are an essential frontline resource for fleet maintainers, can we demonstrate the direct impact their design, capacity and capabilities has on workforce motivation, skills development and competence.
Author: Mechan, Published: 11 May 2016, Last Modified: 11 May 2016
Summary:National Task Force 20 point plan to improve punctuality and exceed customers' needs.