Danny Broad, Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), writes about the ARA’s collaboration with GS1 Australia to standardise how materials are identified to eliminate the current challenge of managing efficient maintenance, repair and overhaul processes.
The landscape in which our rail industry operates today is large and complex, causing challenges with cost, safety, visibility, logistics, efficiency and customer service. There is also currently no standardised approach to the way materials are identified to support supply chain best practice and effective asset management.
To address these issues, the Project i-TRACE initiative was formed in partnership with GS1 Australia to set the foundation for standardising the way parts and components are identified, barcoded and/or tagged across the sector using GS1 global data standards (GDS).
The ARA has been working closely with Bonnie Ryan, GS1 Australia’s Senior Manager – Freight, Logistics & Industrial over the past few years to lay the groundwork for the 1 January 2019 commencement date for the i-TRACE initiative.
Investing in GS1 standards and new technologies will bring improvements to reliability, safety and quality across the value chain. These include more efficient and transparent inventory management processes and improved traceability across components’ lifecycles.
Improving how the rail industry traces and tracks assets and critical parts through their full lifecycles is key to unlocking improvements in efficiency and safety.
Standardising the way materials are identified in the value chain through Project i-TRACE will bring industry wide efficiencies including:
• Reduced inventory write-offs and waste leading to optimal inventory management
• Improved maintenance and repair operations
• Improved traceability and warranty management fundamental for lifecycle tracking
• Reduced costs through fewer transaction errors and better quality data
• Elimination of manual processes by enabling automation
i-TRACE will also lay the requirements for how to digitally identify objects and automatically capture data about those objects.
This standardised approach and common framework will help all stakeholders to effectively identify products, electronically capture information about them and then share that information with relevant parties.
Project i-TRACE also supports ISO 55000, the global asset management standard. Several local companies are already incorporating this initiative into their ISO 55000 projects.
To prepare the industry for the adoption of GS1 standards, a series of Rail Industry Supplier Workshops were hosted by the ARA and GS1 around the nation, with presentations from operators to get suppliers up to speed with the project. The workshops were also a great opportunity for suppliers to learn about the range of tools and technologies available for the implementation of GS1 standards.
The ultimate result of Project i-TRACE will be the long-term benefits of full lifecycle tracking and predictive maintenance for more effective asset management.
The focus over the next few months will continue to be working with GS1 Australia to support the rail industry to get ready for the commencement of this important initiative on 1 January 2019.
With the implementation target date less than four months away, I encourage suppliers to get on board Project i-TRACE and talk to operators about joining forces to work together to lay the blueprint for the many benefits ahead.
I also suggest you subscribe to the newsletter to keep up-to-date with what you need to do to be ready for 1 January 2019 www.gs1au.org/project-itrace-news.