“The problem we have in rail is we talk about component lifetime of three to five years but we want the operational life to be 20, 30 or even 50 years,” said Stuart Broadbent, Obsolescence Director at Alsthom Transport speaking at this week’s International Institute of Obsolescence Management (IIOM) conference.
“Equipment gets a lifetime of 10 to 15 years because it can’t always be maintained and repaired. For example, we have just taken part of GE’s signalling business, and the words used in ERP and PLM [management software] systems were not consistent.”
Part of the problem is also that French and German have different words for obsolete equipment that don’t necessarily mean the same in English. “So we need a common vocabulary with a full definition and apply that consistently,” he said.
The idea is to give a numeric value to the different levels of the components and systems, from chips to electronic and mechanical sub-systems to signalling systems and entire trains or trams, for example:
- 10 introduction
- 20 current
- 50 middle of life – supporting customers
- 70 end of life
- 99 obsolete
“This means that this sequence will always work and it maps across to our vocabulary and into the ERP and PLM systems,” said Broadbent. The scheme deliberately finishes at 99 as completely finished to keep it under three figures.
The scheme allows managers to add extra elements such as 30 for equipment that is current for existing customers only, eg with a line extension for signalling, or expanding rolling stock, 70 as end of life (EoL) for customers without support contract and 80 for EoL for remaining customers. 90 can then be used for systems that are obsolete but can be repaired.
“By filling in the gaps we can have some extra nuance in the ERP system that says a part at one site is repairable but not at other sites,” said Broadbent. “For example our trams have a