Network Rail and The Central Railway Systems Alliance (CRSA) have successfully finished trialling brand new digital headsets which will help to log data, paving the way for future frontline maintenance teams.
The test was carried out at Network Rail’s Aston Depot, drawing existing innovative solutions together to help organise data collection and reporting of safety renewals from paper-based methods into one, easy-to-use and adaptable ‘connected worker’ solution.
The trial was crucial for future rail and track renewal processes, and was conducted with workflow automation provider, Intoware. It was designed to work over a 10-year programme, in the hopes of positively impacting track design, deployment, and renewals.
The CRSA is working with Network Rail Research and Development (R&D) to accelerate rail infrastructure redevelopment throughout the London Northwest, London Northeast and East Midlands routes.
Last year, information on Network Rail’s track renewals was not being fully logged and utilised across the company, so digitalising information and practices of frontline teams will deliver higher quality data, improvements in track and safety, whilst reducing costs.
Chloe Denham, Programme Manager of Innovation & Continuous Improvement, The Central Railway Systems Alliance, said “by working smarter, not harder and ensuring we get it right first time is the remit of this WorkfloPlus and HMT project, enabling frontline efficiencies of up to 70 per cent and significant track safety improvements.”
She added, “workers can go completely hands-free via voice-controlled headsets and collect data supported by images, video, emergency calling and GPS integration for reliable referencing enabling a consistent approach to renewals.”
The digital automation platform, WorkfloPlus, was picked as it converts paper-based workflows into easy to follow, step-by-step digital work instructions which are accessed by wearing head-mounted tablets (HMT’s).
The headsets feature augmented reality from RealWear – a company which manufactures purpose-built headworn devices - as part of a connected-worker solution.
Business Development Director, Intoware, Hannah Bailey, said “the challenge for the trial was to reduce print costs and avoid lengthy delays incurred by paper processes."
She continued, “but most importantly, improvements in data quality were critical, as incomplete intelligence would necessitate further inspections to recapture missing information to ensure track safety and compliance.”
The Directed added, “WorkfloPlus improves the quality of data captured, as it auto generates data reports in ‘real-time’ from inspections and is instantly shared with colleagues and supervisors to deliver significant performance improvements."
"While ‘hands-free working’ also means better situational awareness so it’s easier for the workforce to pick up on any potential hazards.”