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2012 - Oct - Gifford - Maintaining and Designing Signalling Systems for Reliability, Availability and Maintainability – Challenging the Paradigms, Beliefs and Sacred Cows 2012 - Oct - Gifford - Maintaining and Designing Signalling Systems for Reliability, Availability and Maintainability – Challenging the Paradigms, Beliefs and Sacred Cows

John Gifford FIRSE Signalling & Compliance Manager, Hunter Valley

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Most of you will be aware of the term Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM). It is a standardised, defensible Maintenance Requirements Analysis process. The process originated in the military and aviation industries and is now accepted by, and applied across, many engineering organisations throughout the world for the development of system preventive maintenance requirements. The RCM process is derived from the application of Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) and recognises that preventive maintenance can only enable assets to achieve the inherent level of reliability designed and built into the equipment or system.

Identification and selection of preventive maintenance tasks are based on:

• Reliability characteristics of the equipment;
• Operating environment of the equipment; and
• Consequences of equipment failure.

In the event no effective preventive maintenance task is identified to manage a particular failure mode then the alternatives are:

• Run the equipment to failure;
• Design out the failure mode; or
• Continually Monitor the equipment

Most modern day signalling and control system equipment have undergone Reliability Availability Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) analysis during the development phase. Usually this is a standalone process that does not look deeply into the interfaces, e.g. RAMS analysis for point drive equipment does not go deeply into the track interface, train axle loads, etc. I have observed maintainability, including occupational health and safety aspects of many the signalling systems, comprising a variety of equipment and interfaces that have not been adequately considered.

Many opportunities for improvement in asset performance have been lost, largely through blind adherence to entrenched prescriptive standards, paradigms, beliefs and homage to the sacred cows. This paper will focus heavily in this area of opportunity and challenge engineers, designers, constructors and maintainers to question these paradigms, beliefs and sacred cows for the betterment of our railway industry and "keep the trains moving".

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