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Linear Asset Management: The Missing Link in EAM

In the world of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), it is common practice to use a single system that claims to manage all assets within the transit authority’s operation. These systems are focused on hierarchical relationships of sub-systems and critical components within a single unit, such as a bus or a rail car. However, in practice many EAM systems have proven to be deficient in tracking the State of Good Repair (SoGR) of linear assets.

The most valuable single asset in a rail operation is the rail and roadbed, yet in traditional EAM systems these are treated as either one single, multi-mile long asset or it’s treated as a series of individual components, each a few feet long and all lined end to end for the length of the rail alignment.  The practical implication of this approach is that linear assets are not adequately represented nor managed in today’s EAM systems. What is required is a capability to effectively construct, inspect, and maintain linear assets in a manner consistent with SoGR measurements, then feed this resulting data into the transit authority’s existing EAM system.

The approach of bundling up the management of various assets through a single technology suite might work for most enterprise assets, but it falls short for assets that physically stretch for dozens and dozens of miles on end. We’ll discuss how ‘linear assets’ such as rail tracks and rail roadbeds differ from fixed or mobile enterprise assets and hence how the operators will benefit from a specialized linear asset management interface to their existing EAM system.

Geographical Spread

Linear assets are not confined to a specific location and size; for example, the rail tracks stretch for dozens of miles and are peppered with a variety of fixed assets including highway crossing locations, train interlocking locations, train health monitoring systems, train identification systems, wheel lubrication stations, communication towers, signals, sensors, and power.  These physical rail lines are linear and can produce a defect at any location, at any time. In parallel to the linear rail lines, there may be other linear assets such as power lines, 3rd rail/catenary propulsion lines, communication/fiber cables, and roads for vehicles. Hierarchical tracking of linear assets is inaccurate, cumbersome, and effectively useless, therefore a new, geographically-oriented method of inspecting and maintaining linear assets is required.

Railroads, for example, benefit from having a Geographic Information System to correctly record and report data on the conditions of various segments of the linear assets. A good Linear Asset Management system enables map-based asset inventory and maintenance which is not necessarily a part of traditional EAMs.

Assets Variability

A single linear asset is typically associated with a variety of fixed assets with defined interfaces to the track. For example, over a 100 mile stretch of railroad, there might be a variety of assets such as track, rail fasteners, signals, crossings, catenary poles, bridges and switches. Moreover, these assets are connected to the rail track and roadbed such that a defect found in one asset may be caused by an adjacent asset.  The need to identify, maintain, and monitor these assets requires a continuous and consistent communication across multiple teams responsible for these assets. The management of such dynamic assets requires a linear asset management system with the ability to manage condition monitoring, manual inspection, reporting, and data sharing through a common system accessible to all stakeholders.

Data Diversity

Closely linked to ‘assets variability’ is the diversity of data generated by various components of a linear asset. In order to get actionable data insights, railroads generate and track data automatically from multiple sensor types as well as data recorded by teams during manual inspection of assets. To transform this data into meaningful reporting, the Linear Asset Management systems enable manipulation of several layers of data that are collected from diverse sources. This capability of managing and using big data needs to be much more advanced and specialized in comparison to that offered in traditional EAMs.

In conclusion, traditional EAMs focus on tying together the conventional organizational operations such as finance, human resources, and physical fixed and mobile assets. Linear Asset Management solutions, on the other hand, are created with the dynamic nature of physically dispersed Linear Asset and their diverse data and assets requirements.

To know more about how to maximize the benefits of a specialized ‘Linear Asset Management’ system, talk to one of our experts.

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