Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Products & Technology, Rail Supply, Rolling stock & Rail Vehicle Design, Legal & Compliance

Strong uptake for Project i-TRACE

PROJECT I-TRACE

Project i-TRACE involves data management standards and processes that will reduce costs, remove duplication and improve the exchange of information about rail components and parts across the asset lifecycle.

The innovation is a joint initiative of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and GS1 Australia, the leading provider of standards and solutions for more than 20 industry sectors.

Last year, the dataset specific to the rail industry was added to the National Product Catalogue (NPC) to enable suppliers and clients to log, manage and share information on their products to improve efficiencies.

ARA chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie said the opportunities to harmonise procurement and tendering processes were significant and would bring about a more sustainable rail industry.

“The NPC provides a single source of truth for product information in the rail industry. Standardised identification and barcodes removes hours of work in the sorting and manual processing of components and parts,” she said.

“This will help make the industry more responsive and efficient, allowing rail organisations to streamline their operations and better connect with the wider industry.”

SYDNEY TRAINS

Among the users of Project i-TRACE has been Sydney Trains, where progress this year has been slow but steady.

The operator’s material data manager and supply chain capability coordinator, William Steward, said there were currently about 2000 GTINs (global trade item number) assigned to the list of around  11,000 items currently set up for storage at the central warehouse.

“The bulk of these (about 1850) are Sydney Trains-assigned GTINs, with the balance coming from Project i-TRACE compliant suppliers such as Siemens, Pandrol and Cold Forge,” he said.

“In the next year I hope that groundwork set with other suppliers such as Voestalpine VAE Railway Systems and Delkor will result in their item ranges being added to the GTIN catalogue, and we can work with more suppliers to get them Project i-TRACE compliant.

“We also hope that more suppliers will become Project i-TRACE compliant and start identifying and marking their products with GS1 barcodes, so that when our SAP system goes live with scanning, we can leverage the power of the barcode.

(SAP is one of the world’s leading producers of software for the management of business processes, developing solutions that facilitate effective data processing.)

“We are in the final stages of testing the printing of barcode labels from SAP which will mean that the label data will be generated directly from the production goods receipt, or purchase order receipt if not already labelled at source/supplier,” Steward said.

“This will pick up all master and transactional data and avoid the need for separate Excel databases and manual data entry.

“Eventually we aim to use the NPC as a repository to share our product data with our customers, and to source vendor product data from the same place.”

YARRA TRAMS

Yarra Trams, run by Keolis Downer, sees a successful implementation of GS1 as fundamental to its Supply Chain Transformation Initiative, aimed at future proofing the light rail operations for the next generation of rolling stock, as well as bringing the current fleet into the 21st century.

Yarra Trams supply chain support senior coordinator Blair Hocking said as a buyer and distributor of essential equipment to keep Melbourne’s tram network operating, the operator was striving to better control its inventory accuracy, management of depot stock, and customer service.

“At the opposite end we aim to improve our supply chain relationships with better connectivity and communication, where key activities such as rotable asset repairs and product warranty management are essential to safe operation of our network,” he said.

“The Initial discovery phase is underway and we have developed an implementation schedule of bite-sized chunks to facilitate smooth integration into our daily warehousing activities with minimum disruption.

“Our first step will be to implement receipting of goods into our warehouse using simple add-on hardware and a minor enhancement to our inventory software, all leveraging existing inventory that is already barcoded to the GS1 standard.

“GS1 is a global industry-wide initiative, and the tram is departing. By jumping onboard for the ride you’re future-proofing yourselves for your next generation of customers”.

PANDROL

Pandrol views the implementation of standardised material master data as an important step in simplifying and streamlining transactions with its rail industry customers.

The company’s head of engineering and quality, Justin Bagge, said data built around standardised fields would allow Pandrol to speak the same ‘language’ as its clients, improving accuracy of transactions with them, and building on the work already conducted through the implementation of GTINs.

“Pandrol is currently in the process of preparing a sample set of data for a trial with Queensland Rail, which we anticipate will highlight the benefits to both businesses of working with standardised material data,” he said.

“Pandrol has been part of the Project i-TRACE journey from very early on. Our involvement with InfraBuild (formerly OneSteel) during their implementation of 2D barcodes on the steel we purchase to produce our rail clips, has introduced us to the benefits that barcoding brings in terms of streamlining capture of incoming data.

“Using standardised barcodes has allowed us to increase the efficiency of capturing all the data that comes into and goes through the business, and has given us the opportunity to more easily capture data for goods that are ready to go out of our premises to customers.”