Good asset management is vital to any successful industry and the rail industry is no different in that respect. It would be true to say that efficient asset management is good business.
Compton Darlington, operations director of FSI (FM Solutions) Limited – the specialist computer aided facilities management solutions provider – states that smart management of fixed assets enables those responsible for maintenance to establish cost and efficiency controls on a disparate property base and focus appropriate resources on rolling stock and rail.
Asset management of infrastructure projects can be challenging. Add to that the complexities and demands of today's rail network and there is potential for a labyrinth of job orders and a need for close control of costs.
First Engineering's intuitive use of a powerful software solution, developed for the facilities management industry by FSI, has shown rail infrastructure managers' that the future is bright as far as maintenance and management of property and mechanical and electrical is concerned.
FSI client First Engineering has mushroomed from its Scottish roots to become a major UK player in the rail engineering and infrastructure support industry and FSI has grown with its contracts for Scotland and Northern England through to the Midlands and London.
From feasibility stages of a project, through commissioning to ongoing maintenance,
First Engineering's services include the design, construction, renewal, maintenance, repair and management of critical infrastructure systems and a range of management systems are deployed to measure and control these processes.
Acting independently or in unison, their various divisions deliver multi-disciplinary services. These include one-off projects, emergency and remedial works, term contracts in inspection, maintenance and repair and turnkey multi-function projects.
With circa 2000 employees providing services to companies including Network Rail, EWS, GNER and First ScotRail, the company has developed its core rail engineering services to include the upkeep of mainline stations and support properties, through its Facilities Division.
In a similar way FSI has developed its computer aided solutions for a range of clients in industries as far flung as banking and manufacturing through to utilities and transport infrastructure.
Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) will never be the same again for the rail industry thanks to the introduction of the award-winning Concept™ SQL system software, which has grown with First Engineering's contracts since the hand over from Railtrack to Network Rail. The comprehensive client driven software solution was first purchased by First Engineering to assist the Facilities Management Division in successfully managing the PPM of all mechanical and electrical assets for Managed Stations throughout the rail network.
As well as allowing the successful planning of PPM's on a rolling basis, the system also allows First Engineering to readily report on performance targets and financial data for both internal and client use. The introduction of report writing software extends this reporting to incorporate specific requests from First Engineering management and Network Rail on an
ad hoc basis.
Concept™ is now fully operational in all 17 Managed Stations in the UK. Initial plans were to individually schedule the 60,000 assets supplied by Network Rail within the system, however First Engineering decided to utilise the Asset Relationship Manager within ConceptTM to group like assets at the same location. This reduced the number of planned tasks to around 5,000 a useful time saving facility within Concept™ SQL.
"This software enables us to intricately plan and control every detail of their work schedule. Initially being used for PPM, the system is an invaluable planning tool, which can book or reschedule work where necessary," explains Terry Mills, PPM and Systems Manager of First Engineering Facilities Management Division. Since initial development, other works modules within Concept™ have been implemented such as
Call Logging, Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), Hand Held Technology and a Web-Enabled Helpdesk Facility is currently being introduced.
One feature of Concept™ that has proved to be very popular is the ability to report the history of a specific asset. This is possible due to the ability to add an existing asset code to a new reactive fault on input. This generates a detailed history of an asset which is useful for both First Engineering and its clients, as potential problems can be highlighted and acted upon before they develop. Importantly from First Engineering's viewpoint, the asset register, developed within Concept™ also enables the generation of Purchase Orders, with differing rates, and generation of appropriate invoices. "This is extremely important with tracking of VISA purchasing by our field personnel," explains Mills, who is conscious of the constant need to deliver transparency and timely billing of costs.
Because FSI's system delivers powerful management information, First Engineering has invested and implemented on some contracts, mobile solutions. FSI through its partner Cognito provides the hand held mobile technology as a fully managed and supported service to enable real-time communication between the call centre and any number of maintenance engineers in
Darlington sums up the rail focus for FSI:
"We have had a robust relationship which has stood the test of time and witnessed dramatic changes within the rail industry. We started with a solution which had been developed specifically for real estate, and is ideally suited to any assets, whether transmission and high voltage lines, substations or mainline passenger stations.
Our philosophy has been to work through the specific requirements of the client to ensure
that our solution is relevant and delivers the required results."