Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are at the heart of any Railway Operator operational activities today. Indeed, these systems contain all information regarding incidents or predictive maintenance. They are used to plan the maintainer activities as well as ensure that the rolling stock stays in line with regulatory obligations and commercial commitments.
As a consequence, a correct information is key to ensure efficient operational activities.
Railway operators, leasers and maintainers are all using their own CMMS and a vast number of solutions are available on the market right now.
These companies are facing three main challenges: integration, information sharing and knowledge management.
The first one is integrating their CMMS within their own IT system (Logistics, Accounting, …). Indeed, the maintenance activities are linked to hardware resources availabilities given by procurement and logistics systems. The Human Resources ERP will provide the human resources availability in accordance to the necessary competencies to realize a specific task.
The second one is for maintainers to be able to share information with CMMS systems of other companies as their clients require them to use their own CMMS. Hence, they must dedicate team to manually replicate information from one system to the other. This methodology can have huge impacts on the operations as this is not real time and can lead to mistakes due to human error hence potential financial impacts.
Finally, in a more general context, managers need to be able to take decisions based on all this information. In the use cases ERTMS Solutions encountered, most of the valuable time was spent on gathering the information and inferring basic activities choices based on verbal rules. The manager spends only 20% of her/his time where she/he has the most added value by really exerting her/his expertise. The time used for ‘crossing the information’ and apply basic business rules is both a decrease of productivity and a potential error source.
At ERTMS Solutions, we noticed that these issues could be addressed in a much larger concept: the conceptual view of the information. Indeed, every CMMS System or other ERP applications are exposing the same business concepts of employees, rolling stocks, training, schedules, etc. Unfortunately the only ‘view’ of this information is through technical data, stored deep in the information systems. This is often a deal breaker for business to express their needs or make sense of this information.
At ERTMS Solutions, we propose to semantically represent the information contained in the CMMS, creating a common vocabulary that can be shared by all the applications (ERP, Planning systems, HR,…) but also understood by the business.
The model by itself being a static representation of the CMMS and its relations is not enough. ERTMS Solutions proposes to add business rules built on top of this representation to express all the business knowledge constraints and then infer new information. The couple business model + rules is an ontology.
How companies with the use of ontologies can get more of their CMMS by enhancing the connectivity capabilities and easily integrate other information sources?