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Transport & Logistics

Lean: Securing the future of Australian rail manufacturing and maintenance?

30 Oct 2013, by Informa Insights

Ross Spicer, CEO, Downer Rail
Ross Spicer, CEO, Downer Rail

Without a new approach to reducing overheads and increasing efficiency, the Australian rail manufacturing industry will not survive. In response to this industry-wide challenge Downer Rail has developed a new model for passenger and freight rail manufacturing and maintenance that uses Lean methodologies to reduce costs and streamline productivity.

The introduction of Lean was initiated at Downer Rail’s Cardiff facility. The Cardiff facility has successfully made the transition from a boutique to large-scale manufacturing facility over the course of just 18 months. It has achieved this by introducing Lean methodologies such as a four zone, four flow line manufacturing structure; balanced build plans; visual management and information resource centres; digitised access to schematics and engineering documents; and a strong focus on production metrics.

“The introduction of Lean at Downer Rail’s Cardiff facility has revolutionised our approach to both passenger and freight manufacturing and maintenance,” said Downer Rail CEO Ross Spicer.

“With the help of our consultants, KM&T, we have built a process, a facility and a team that is fully equipped to manage large scale rail manufacturing or maintenance, customisation and testing and commissioning projects.”

“We’ve held intense Kaizen workshops to resolve specific challenges, and after implementing specific Lean manufacturing processes we worked through a comprehensive 5S Program with the team at Cardiff,” said Mr Spicer. “Both these programs really helped to engage and empower the entire workforce and embed the principles of workplace improvement and standardisation, which has in turn benefitted our customers.”

AusRAIL_PLUS_2013_200x90Downer Rail has plans to roll out its Lean methods at its rail manufacturing and maintenance facilities Australia-wide over the next 12 months.

“Downer Rail is focused on offering our customers access to our services and facilities in the right strategic rail locations across Australia,” said Mr Spicer.

“We’ll be focussing on sharing knowledge and expertise across all our sites, and identifying the appropriate locations for developing centres of excellence where we can deliver specific expertise to our freight and passenger customers.”

Ross Spicer will be providing the full details of Downer Rail’s new rail manufacturing and maintenance model, and its benefits to customers, in a presentation at AusRAIL Plus 2013, from 26 to 28 November at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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