Condition Monitoring and Testing, Freight Rail, Industry Infrastructure, Operations and Maintenance, Passenger Rail, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Track and Tunnel Construction

Transparent maintenance management

Lycopodium is providing support around maintenance requirements, bringing expertise to the fore to ensure success for operators. 

Maintenance supporter Lycopodium Infrastructure is aiming to lead the rail industry’s maintenance and safety practices. Whether it be in the smallest yard moving low amounts of freight to the largest coal company – no challenge is too big or small.

The company has spent the past 14 years honing its skills and bringing science and ingenuity to process, engineering, construction management, maintenance and operational challenges.

Lycopodium can ensure companies are maintaining the right standards on its rail lines with the correct servicing intervals and collaborating with a range of stakeholders to deliver all components successfully.

Within the rail group, Lycopodium has 40 staff, including track inspectors and certifiers, maintenance managers, and condition analysts.

Rail Express spoke with senior maintenance engineer Robert Taylor to learn more about how the company works with rail organisations.

Taylor has more than 30 years’ experience working in engineering, and has an infrastructure background due to his time on the rail network, as well as a mechanical engineering background thanks to his time in the Navy. This experience has been invaluable in his work with Lycopodium.

The LycoMMS system manages rail maintenance by collating data and information onto one easy-to-follow platform. IMAGES: LYCOPODIUM

Working with a diverse industry

Lycopodium takes a unique approach to every organisation it partners with, which allows it to work with a company of any size and provide the support needed.

“We have a good system that is tailored to the needs of any organisation,” Taylor said.

“The system is geared up to give us flexibility by using our experience and knowhow along with best engineering practices to maximise success.”

Taylor explained that often for the team at Lycopodium, it is about building trust quickly to ensure mutual success.

“We have an open and transparent system,” he said.

“My main job is to communicate with clients around maintenance needs. This can be extending certain maintenance practices or bringing them forward.

“Once we have built that trust and they understand we are here to support, it all runs like clockwork.”

Taylor explained that if organisations blindly follow industry standards without accurately considering the needs of the network, it can cause a lot of ‘over maintenance’ that is not needed.

“Many of the tracks we are working on run heavy trains but only at a maximum of 20 kilometres per hour,” he said.

“These networks do not need the same sort of maintenance as a freight network running through busy areas of Australia carrying heavy weights at great speed.”

Many of the companies Taylor works with may not be operating in the rail space more broadly but utilise it for a small sub-section of its operations, which pose unique challenges. It has forced the team to simplify its processes.

“Often I am working with people that don’t understand our rail jargon,” he said.

“We are working with mechanical engineers and people like that. My experience in different fields throughout my career allows me to understand what they are thinking and provide the information they need.

“We don’t come in wearing high flying suits and tell them what to do. We work closely with them, so they understand why we are doing what we need to do.

“This is where programs like the LycoMMS are so helpful.”

LycoMMS

The LycoMMS system manages rail maintenance by collating data and information onto one easy-to-follow platform. Lycopodium has built LycoMMS from the ground, and they have done so by
implementing a range of tools. These include rail infrastructure management inspections and asset management services, track defects, asset history and work orders.

Lycopodium was the recipient of the Permanent Way Institution (PWI) Ken Erickson Innovation Award in 2016 for the LycoMMS system and app.

“Clients have a great deal of transparency when it comes to using this system,” Taylor said.

Lycopodium aims to tailor its maintenance advice to each individual organisation. IMAGES: LYCOPODIUM

“The work order system is very clear as well. It explains in simple terms the work that needs to be done and why we are doing that work.

“This ensures that all people in the decision-making process have a clear understanding of why we are recommending this work.

“We don’t want to railroad clients and force them to do work. This system gives them the ability to make informed decisions about their track maintenance needs.”

Collaboration

The key for Lycopodium, as Taylor explains, is collaboration between a range of stakeholders. The organisation acts as a conduit between every person in the maintenance process.

“The key is we don’t want to overcook it or undercook it,” he said.

“The phrase I use with all our clients is it needs to be fit for purpose and with no surprises.

“If things are breaking it obviously costs a fortune, but we also don’t want to over maintain. It is about finding that balance.”

Taylor explained that being in the position that many of his clients are in when he has worked for similar companies in the past, ensures he understands what they are looking for from Lycopodium.

“We aren’t consultants sitting in a board room. We understand these companies intimately and provide a bespoke service for what they need,” he said.

“We do the thinking and the smarts around what is needed,” Taylor said.

“A lot of the muscle is hired and we cherry-pick the right contractors for a company’s needs. We need to have the right contractor that requires little supervision, and we need to have a strong relationship with them.”

Taylor explained that Lycopodium is always aiming to stay on top of changes and practices in the maintenance sector to ensure it is always meeting the needs of clients.

“We learn as we go and it is not always constant,” he said.

“Every day we learn something, and we adjust our manuals to better assess the needs of the industry and that is what is important for us as maintenance supporters.”