Case Study

Smart Services using RFID

Predictable & dynamic maintenance of the track

  • High-performance company since 1889
  • Over 1 500 employees
  • 384 kilometer long route network
  • Over 1 000 vehicles
  • 616 bridges, 103 stations, 1 000 points

Challenge: Regular maintenance of vehicle components within legal deadlines

With its 384-kilometre-long network in the heart of the Swiss high mountains, the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) is obliged to regularly maintain vehicle components such as axles and brake blocks within the legal deadlines. However, maintenance periods per component vary greatly. Vehicle components are often difficult to access and attached identification stickers are not clearly legible. To manage the maintenance requirements of the components to be serviced, including relevant messages from the field, and to evaluate them for timely maintenance was previously very time-consuming.

Objective: predictable & dynamic maintenance of the railway

The Rhaetian Railway set a dynamic and "intelligent" maintenance planning of its components as its goal. System-supported identification and real-time information should make this possible.

Condition, usage and maintenance information should be retrievable from the system in the field. This would enable an early comparison of the operating status and maintenance requirements of a component in the field. Maintenance should thus be able to be coordinated more efficiently with train breaks or inspections or repairs in operation or in the workshop. This future dynamic maintenance should optimize the use of resources, minimize downtimes and increase productivity.

Implemented: Dynamic maintenance using RFID

Together with RhB, Intelliact implemented the project "Identification of maintenance components". As a process-safe basis for dynamic maintenance, a machine-readable component ID was required in order to be able to link information in the field or in the workshop directly with the corresponding product data in the ERP of the Rhaetian Railway in terms of IT.

The project was started with an inventory of all requirements, a solution-neutral specification sheet and a decision matrix for the technical solution. Each vehicle component was provided with a unique identification number (ID) by means of an RFID tag, a QR code and a number which is "married" to its corresponding product data structure in the ERP system as soon as the components are commissioned or installed in the vehicle.

Today, employees supplement and maintain the necessary data in the ERP system about the operating status as well as usage and maintenance information of the vehicle component.

Process integration brings information together and can be accessed via portal

Using the procedure described above, component identification numbers from the ERP system can be read out easily and quickly by machine using an RFID reader at the maintenance object. The integration by means of a bidirectional interface between the ERP system and the application of the reader on a tablet brings together all status, usage and maintenance information.

In addition, a web application has been developed that could, for example, aggregate the following information in order to orchestrate maintenance planning and train deployment:

  • Train operating time
  • Maintenance parameters
  • Component wear
  • Maintenance intervals
  • Utilization in the maintenance garages
  • Track occupancy or the technician
  • Availability of replacement trains

Today's benefits for the Rhaetian Railway

  • Predictive maintenance allows better coordination of repair and maintenance work, thus significantly increasing efficiency.
  • All vehicle maintenance is transparent and improves communication between technicians, service and maintenance staff.
  • The central non-redundant data storage in the ERP of current condition information and historical vehicle data makes it easier to access and maintain them from outside.
  • Tracing of the component life cycle over several decades (procurement -> use and maintenance -> decommissioning) is possible.

Consistently organized product data

In order to realize a predictive & dynamic maintenance of vehicle components using RFID, the following essential aspects should be examined:

  • Reliable management of complete and consistently organized master, movement and instance data linked to the component ID
  • Understanding of the processes in order to be able to optimally implement an integration or derive its harmonisation
  • Criteria for selecting the RFID tag, such as environmental conditions and requirements for technical solutions

Do you also need to network information about products in the field and the data in your business applications?

Contact Uwe Leonhardt
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