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Heinz Graf

Senior Standards Expert
GS1 System

T +41 58 800 72 29
F +41 58 800 72 99

Progress on the railway – exemplary infrastructure management

Nothing has shaped our infrastructure and logistics quite so much as the European railway system. While digital systems have made their mark in planning, traffic control and safety over the past few decades, quality management and optimisation in maintenance and spare parts procurement are now the main focus.

The right parts and components must be procured and the availability of material and maintenance services synchronised in order to guarantee operational safety. A standard-based approach to identifying and labelling materials, components, logistics units, locations and assets simplifies the processes underpinning the railway industry. This results in better stock management and more effective asset management, leading to greater stock reliability, guaranteed component availability at workshops and lower costs.

Transparency and safety

Based on GS1 global standards, the proposed new application offers a tool for the effective management of inventory and maintenance services for railway operators and suppliers. Use of barcoding or RFID tagging for unique identification and automatic data collection creates an overarching system that covers and synchronises all of the companies and value chains in the railway industry.

This means that the entire life cycle of parts and critical components can be recorded at all times, from production and storage through to installation, operation, maintenance and subsequent use. This plays a major role in secure and efficient quality management. A uniform global standard helps link various industries and harmonise the integration of goods and data flows. Greater transparency and cost-effectiveness are the direct results of more effective resources planning for railway operators, suppliers and component manufacturers.

Railway operators are now facing new challenges and new statutory requirements. Alongside product reliability and warranty protection when procuring parts, cross-sector interoperability is the top priority in supply chain management. While the exchange of data between manufacturers, operators and the supervisory authorities is often inconsistent and incomplete nowadays and data analysis is rarely used to optimise operating procedures in maintenance, for example, this is set to change drastically in future.

With standards that have been proven for many decades, the GS1 global network safeguards all of the necessary processes in the railway industry. All of the players in this specific value chain, including their properties, inventory values and locations, are identified on the basis of GS1 ID numbers such as GTIN, GIAI and GLN and recorded by means of barcodes or RFID tags. The GS1 DataMatrix, GS1-128 and EPC/RFID tags offer proven, high-performance, tried-and-tested data carriers that can help optimise the entire value chain.