Key Challenges of Track Maintenance and How to Resolve them

Track inspection and maintenance are critical to railroad companies’ success and safety track record. In this post we will discuss two most important challenges of track maintenance and share suggestions to overcome these challenges.

1. Schedule Planning

Railroad tracks extend to hundreds of miles and keeping up with their constant inspection and regular maintenance is no small feat. In addition, there will be exception conditions and other incidents that cause damage to track, requiring urgent attention. To adjust for these unforeseen urgent repair/maintenance activities, railroads juggle the limited resources from already planned maintenance schedules to take care of the urgent needs to keep the trains moving. These activities can impact their ability to proactively inspect and maintain the tracks, this adds to the already complex process of scheduling and planning.

To have a predictable schedule, one key factor is real-time awareness of the current conditions of the track. The ability to predict and plan for the upcoming repair/inspection needs enables railroads to operate proactively and maintain a realistic schedule that doesn’t have to change every other day. The easiest way to achieve this awareness is to invest in proactive track inspection tools that provide valuable real-time data on current track conditions and the future maintenance and repair needs.

2. Communication

Railroads are a vast network of inter-dependent assets and operations. It is impossible to achieve efficient track inspection/maintenance without a robust communication structure within track department. An extension to that communication requirement is the need to closely collaborate with other departments . It’s important to have the communication and collaboration as the track inspection and maintenance efficiency could be highly time sensitive. So, if an inspector finds a defect that needs immediate remediation, they need a reliable communication channel to share the information with all concerned field workers and decision makers.

In order to set up consistent communication, the first and foremost step is to have reliable and easy to use communication tools that all concerned persons can use whether they are in the field or behind the desk. An easy to use communication tool increases the probability of correct and timely reporting and processing of track inspection data. The second factor is to make sure that the information is accessible as soon as possible to all the stakeholders involved in making the decisions and carrying out the defect repair.

While you can deal with the above-mentioned challenges separately, the reality is that they are dependant on one another. Proactive schedule planning requires robust communication and the communication thrives when there is a proactive schedule planning in effect.

Let us know if you’d like to discuss more about track inspection and maintenance challenges.

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