PAM – predicting the future of wagon maintenance

VTG, Europe’s largest independent rail freight wagon lessor, and digital technology consultancy 3Squared are working together on a unique project to bring the management of wagon maintenance into the 21st century.

ProActive Maintenance (PAM) is a digital application that will collate and analyse data providing the basis for it to act as a condition-based management tool that will spot trends and predict the optimum time for wagon maintenance events.


Tim Jones, managing director of 3Squared said: “PAM is a first for the industry that, through the application of technology and digitisation, will bring VTG closer to its customers and suppliers.


PAM is forecast to revolutionise wagon maintenance as it replaces existing, inefficient, paper-based management systems.


“There’s a lot of useful information available but is currently very difficult to obtain, especially on a regular basis” says Sam Hunt, VTG’s PAM project manager. “We therefore want to capture as much of this information through PAM and then use it to improve our maintenance regime.


“From tracking wheelset wear to following component failure trends, we hope to be able to streamline our maintenance to further improve on our industry-leading wagon availability and reliability, ultimately saving time and money for all stakeholders.


“Having a system that links to existing systems and predicts when a wagon might need attention would be a major benefit.


3Squared’s Tim Jones said: “Currently all maintenance records are written on paper and filed away, which means that no one is using this valuable information to its full potential.


“PAM will enable VTG, as both wagon lessor and Entity in Charge of Maintenance, to provide an even higher quality service to its customers, improving the effectiveness of its operations thanks to better information and insight in partnership with its suppliers.


“It will improve visibility of the maintenance process for all parties, provide an enhanced level of detail and increase the timeliness of information delivery to help individuals make more informed decisions,” he said.


PAM will also provide VTG with a solid and scalable technology platform that can grow and change as the demands of the business change. This will give VTG the capability to move PAM and its data into areas such as predictive modelling and preventative maintenance.


Sam explained that phase one of PAM went live with the first 350 wagons, or around 15% of its fleet and has also added the recently acquired 400-plus Nacco wagons to that number. After that VTG added a further 250 wagons meaning that currently, approximately 1,000 wagons in VTG’s current fleet are live in the system. The remainder of the wagons to be added within the first half of 2019.

Sam said: “We believe PAM is working well. After the second phase we are expecting some more software releases to be ready to boost functionality and make the system even better for all users. Once we are fully live, our main focus will be on future improvements.

Tim added: “The project itself has got off to a great start thanks to the collaborative nature of VTG and their willingness to adopt agile project management methodology for delivering this project.


“The 3Squared team work closely with VTG UK and VTG Germany and are in constant communication as we work through the process to deliver PAM.


“The rail industry is undergoing unprecedented change.   It’s great to see such a renowned and respected brand such as VTG innovating within the sector to stay ahead of those changes.”