While most, if not all, of the applications of information applicable to plants are also applicable to large fleet assets, there are a few additional ones.
One major difference is in dealing with failures. When a mobile asset, like a locomotive, fails, it can be anywhere. The remoteness of the failure makes it necessary for the owner to be able to use information in a way that supports remote diagnosis and remote recovery, if possible. If a knowledgeable adviser can be provided with a meaningful description of the malfunction and the symptoms upon failure, in many instances there is a good possibility of restoring operation.
Lacking the ability to restore operation remotely, there is an opportunity to provide triage and prepare for the steps needed to make repair. In some cases, there are a variety of repair levels available. For instance:
- The lowest level is do-it-now repair vans that can be dispatched to the site of failure.
- A next level might be area or regional repair stations that can only perform limited repairs.
- The final level is the full-service shop that can perform all repairs.
In the repair approach described above, the least amount of time and expense will be spent if the closest repair facility is used. On the other hand, it is a waste of time for both the asset and the repair facility if a more significant failure is sent to a facility that is unable to perform the repair.