Overall between Perpetuum and Alstom you have worked in the rail industry for over twenty years. Over this time what was the most ambitious or innovative project you’ve worked on? Please explain the challenges involved in this project.
In 2007, as head of strategy for the aftersales business, I started the process of reorganising its R&D programme to reposition RCM as a tool to support services and not simply as a communications product that might be lost to the Signalling business unit. With heavy global market pressures on train prices adding further cost to already “expensive” products with new RCM hardware was difficult … as it still is!

It was an introduction to the complicated business of after sales, the conflicts of interest between manufacturer and user, and the potential unintended barrier to innovation that the subject of safety can made to be. However we finally succeeded in making it a policy for all new trains to be RCM-enabled using the conventional LCC argument of future savings.

The task remains ongoing even in 2016 as the industry still inadvertently throws away the majority of its assets too early and fills its depots with work that isn’t ultimately necessary – everyone is clear on the strategy, it’s just the tactics to get there that the industry as a whole still struggles with. There are good examples out there – just not enough yet!

Why is the application of CBM and RCM technology so important for the rail industry right now?
The industry worldwide is seeing major macro challenges – population growth and urbanisation are driving up timetable demand; traditional forms of state financing of public services are under critical review by governments with priorities in education and health; and our aging demographics mean there will be attrition over the next 10 years unlike anything we have ever experienced before. RCM plus CBM offers a solution to all these through optimised asset management and automation – it is a matter of survival against other modes of transport.

What benefits can a properly applied CBM or RCM program yield?
Deeper knowledge of your asset’s ACTUAL capabilities leading to …
1. Higher safety results;
2. Higher timetable punctuality;
3. Higher asset utilisation;
4. Higher passenger satisfaction
… and all at the same or less cost

What specific challenges have you encountered with your CBM clients at Perpetuum?
Few of our clients hold all the cards to implement change – there are sometimes numerous stakeholders, especially with regards to the question of safety. However many of our clients are also in positions where they need to change quickly either to meet rapidly changing market conditions or to respond to internal difficulties, as I have mentioned before. This mismatch between the aspirations of those decision makers outside of the sector and the realities being faced by those responsible within the sector will be a permanent challenge during these next 10 years of radical change.

How have you overcome these challenges?
We focus on providing evidence as quickly as possible so that our clients can use it to leverage even wider strategic aspirations for change and innovation. We can have equipment installed and data being analysed in as little as 9 months due to our non-intrusive self-powered solution. We also understand the importance of starting with small trials – as I presented last year – that can be deployed quickly, provide robust results and remove any doubts regarding their bespoke asset base.

Collaboration with the client that supports their wider asset management strategy has worked well for both parties so far – something that was recognised with the Industry Partnership Innovation award with KeolisAmey Docklands.

Justin, you will be delivering the keynote presentation of day one just before lunch – can you give us a taste of what you will cover?
We are continuing to find more and more opportunities in providing information on assets under the train floor, an area that the industry has struggled to gain access to so far. I am looking forward to sharing our experiences from the last 12 months where we have delivered exciting new applications in RCM to clients for traction motors and track using wireless and battery-free sensors. Our strategy around the intelligent bogie is progressing, and I will be reporting on our latest partners in this programme. I might even pose a few questions that we as an industry should be tackling and not avoiding … we’ll see!

What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
As always the highlight to the event is meeting my industry peers and learning from their valuable experience. First and foremost these events are about development and learning – I am certain that this year will be no different to the previous four.

See you all in December and come with lots of challenging questions!

Justin will be speaking at the 5th Rolling Stock Maintenance Summit –