ECM: Opportunities for rail vehicle owners and the European rail network
Railway safety and interoperability in rail transport
The Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/779 - also known as the ECM Regulation - has played an important role for the majority of rail vehicle owners and workshops for rail vehicles since 2019 at the latest. In favour of rail safety, the purpose of the regulation is to ensure regulated standards and transparency for Entities in Charge of Maintenance (ECM). Thus, the new directive creates new opportunities for Europe's cross-border rail traffic but also for individual ECM’s.
Challenges for agents acting in the European rail traffic sector
The requirements of the ECM Regulation are implemented at four levels and thus apply to all levels of asset and maintenance management for rail vehicles:
1. Requirements and evaluation criteria for the management function
2. Requirements and evaluation criteria for the maintenance development function
3. Requirements and evaluation criteria for the rolling stock maintenance management function
4. Requirements and evaluation criteria for the maintenance provision function
The ECM being responsible for level 1 can delegate the other three maintenance functions. In order to obtain certification according to ECM standards, this ECM is responsible for the implementation of a maintenance management system. Operational safety of the rail vehicles needs to be ensured in a documented manner and a permanent condition monitoring of the vehicles needs to be done.
Opportunities for operators and maintainers
The first challenge owners and maintainers of freight wagons and locomotives are confronted with is to implement the maintenance management system required by the regulation. This obligation leads to a large number of opportunities for the parties concerned as modern asset management systems for rail vehicles include many functions for the maintenance organization. This means that not only evidence required for ECM certification can be provided, but also higher-ranking maintenance objectives can be achieved.
Examples for such objectives would be:
- Increased reliability of vehicles
- Higher fleet availability
- Reduction of default risks
- Process transparency
- Automated and consequently faster and improved communication
The digitization of maintenance provides the optimal basis for implementing corrective, preventive and predictive maintenance strategies. A digital vehicle history file and detailed component tracking are only possible with the right IT system. The same applies to checklist-based, mobile work on the train or the traceability of maintenance measures. The data in the system is available to authorized personnel at all times, considerably reducing the need for communication by phone and/or e-mail.
Predictive maintenance in particular would be inconceivable without using intelligent IT solutions. Only thanks to such solutions it is possible, for example, to forecast the wear of components (e.g., wheel sets) - and thus to prevent a sudden failure of the according vehicle. True to the motto "forewarned is forearmed".
Maintenance documentation with zedas®asset
The zedas®asset ECM module enables extended support in providing evidence of ECM-compliant workshop documentation. Thanks to this module, departments responsible for maintenance are optimally equipped for the planning and execution of maintenance measures.
Example: This is how the documentation of work orders in zedas®asset works
To ensure complete documentation of maintenance work done in the workshop (ECM 4), first of all information on personnel and equipment are managed in the system. Specific time-limited certificates and qualifications can be assigned to personnel. For operating equipment (e.g. measuring devices), clearly identifiable units (e.g. wheelset measuring device, serial number 2483) are created, to which a certificate/proof (e.g. last calibration) can be assigned. Validity and deadlines of certificates can be monitored.
If a workshop employee processes a work order, the equipment used and the personnel performing the work are entered in the job order completion in an audit-proof manner. This documents that the job order was executed by an authorized employee and that valid equipment was used.
Railroad safety and interoperability
The Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/779 pursues two major objectives with its requirements for management and maintenance of rail vehicles:
1. Safety in rail traffic thanks to compliance with standards and legal requirements
2. Interoperability thanks to a uniform directive valid throughout the EU
You, as a rail vehicle owner or rail workshop, can contribute to these goals by the implementation of a maintenance management system for your processes. Take advantage of this step towards digitization by relying on a rail-specific, innovative IT solution. This will give you a head start in the asset and maintenance management of your rail vehicles - and automatically meet the requirements of the ECM regulation.
The original version of the article was published on LinkedIn.