Maintenance software to keep track of Virgin fleet

Engine manufacturer Cummins Diesel is to use advanced collaborative maintenance technology in a bid to keep the UK’s newest train fleet on the rails.

Cummins will install a real-time maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) system to monitor the performance of the power packs on board Virgin Trains’ new Voyager fleet.

Cummins said the system, supplied by enterprise software specialist Intentia, will form a key part of its £90m maintenance deal with train builder Bombardier, Virgin’s lead contractor.

Bombardier has a £1bn, 12-year agreement to supply and maintain the 352 diesel-electric cars which will form the new 78-strong Voyager train fleet.

The Cummins collaborative MRO system will monitor the location and performance of individual components in the power packs of each rail car. It will manage routine service schedules, trigger a service response to faults and provide a lifecycle cost analysis for each part.

By the time the Voyager fleet enters full service in 2002, Cummins expects to be overhauling five power packs a week at its new engine reconditioning centre in Wellingborough, Northants.

Both Cummins and Bombardier have entered into service-level agreements with Virgin. The train operator has set product performance and reliability targets, and can penalise suppliers if maintenance schedules are not met.

Chris Wright, manager of rail business for Cummins, said the complexity of the contract – and the level of accountability it entails – had forced the engineering firm to adopt new ways of thinking.

‘We find ourselves in a new type of partnership with a customer where we both share the risks and benefits,’ said Wright.

He said the use of collaborative MRO technology would give Cummins the confidence of knowing what needs to be done without delay. It will be fully integrated with Bombardier’s own system, allowing replacements to be available when they are required at one of the new maintenance centres being built by the train manufacturer to handle the Virgin contract.

‘The aim is to create a virtual environment where information is instantly visible for all parties to act upon,’ said Wright.

The MRO system adds to Cummins’ existing use of Intentia’s enterprise software, including modules for field and service workshops.