by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)

The Australian Rail Track Corporation is making a strategic investment in Mobile LiDAR and Imagery datasets to modernise its asset management practices.

The Interstate Asset Capture Project will adopt a ‘collect once, use many’ philosophy as it uses the collected spatial information to enhance the immediate and evolving data requirements of critical ARTC projects.

ARTC Interstate Network General Manager, Brian Green, said the ARTC team performed a survey across the entire ARTC interstate network which required detailed and careful planning as well as close collaboration between project stakeholders to ensure that the highest quality outcomes would be met.

The whole-of-network survey, combined with existing data in Ellipse and technology-based visualisation solutions, also allowed ARTC to create a Digital Twin of the entire ARTC rail network, allowing staff to undertake virtual site visits within a 3D panoramic imagery environment.

Project evolution

Mr Green said that to support ARTC’s new direction of moving from a “time and tonnes” to “risk and condition” model to underpin strategic technology investments, ARTC needed to create and leverage foundational spatial datasets for its asset management systems and other projects.

“These datasets would include a comprehensive spatial inventory of assets and digital track centrelines that would be validated for the business to use,” Mr Green said.

“To create these foundational datasets, ARTC has worked closely with technology partner Agonics to design and plan a survey program covering 9,000km of interstate track.

“We chose to work with Agonics due to their team’s deep experience in working at scale across rail networks, their proven Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) and visualisation technologies, and expertise in converting complex rail engineering requirements into working solutions.”

Mr Green said ARTC has taken a strong standards-driven approach and is investing significant time to develop and test new field capture standards which will now be the benchmark for field data capture across the organisation.

“Our new datasets are accurate, reliable, trusted and consolidated, allowing ARTC to move from a traditional asset management strategy to a digitally-robust, data-driven asset management system,” Mr Green said.

“We started capturing the data in July 2019 and despite a short suspension of the project during the national COVID-19 lockdown, we recently celebrated the successful completion of all field recording activities with the remaining digital datasets due for delivery later this year.”

The demand for spatially accurate, validated datasets

The primary purpose of the Interstate Asset Capture Project is to modernise ARTC’s asset management practices and support key asset management initiatives including the development of an ARTC GIS Model, Linear Referencing System and the deployment of Ellipse Mobility eWorks.

Spatially accurate and validated datasets of asset and track centrelines are a key enabler for critical internal projects at ARTC. This includes the deployment of ARTC’s electronic track worker system or Electronic Track Access (eTAP).
The output from the Asset Capture Project was a critical component in ensuring the success and timely implementation of ARTC’s eTAP app.

“It was introduced to improve rail safety for the NSW Network,” Mr Green said. The core network asset datasets that eTAP requires are significant and detailed. These did not readily exist at the required level of detail at the outset of the eTAP project. Mr Green said other internal projects are benefitting from the project’s digital datasets, including the Advanced Train Management System (ATMS), which recently went ‘live’ in South Australia and will eventually be rolled out nationwide.

The ATMS project will benefit from digital track centrelines provided by the Interstate Asset Capture Project, as these are a key input to communications-based train control systems. The decision support platform (DSP) used to analyse information and support intervention decisions relies on a network model made possible by the linear referencing system and asset capture in the GIS.

Digitisation impact on existing business practices

Mr Green said the Digital Twin supports safer work practices as, in many cases, staff are no longer required to physically travel to and enter the rail corridor. “This is particularly useful for works planning activities by saving time and ensuring that worksite locations are appropriate for the works being planned.

“In addition, digitisation has allowed ARTC to reduce the need for manual measurements of infrastructure with the Asset Capture Project delivering automated clearance assessments across the 9,000km of interstate network.

“By reducing the need for manual measurements of clearances, staff will spend less time in the danger zone, thus further improving safety outcomes for the business.

“It is estimated that on the NSW Interstate Network alone, more than 6,000 fewer man-hours will be spent in the danger zone performing manual clearance measurements.”

An evolution in business practices

The Interstate Asset Capture Project has fostered changes in ARTC’s business practices by incorporating and adopting new services and products into routine day-to-day activities.

By taking a whole-of-network approach to collect and process datasets, ARTC is able to meet, not only its immediate data requirements, but also the evolving data requirements of its internal customers.

The strategic investment addresses the pitfalls of traditional project-by-project approaches to data acquisition and storage, where completion deadlines compete with the ongoing needs of the business for accurate, validated asset data.

“This conscious investment in a whole network approach has been key to ARTC’s success in implementing new technologies and new systems across its huge network,” Mr Green said.

“We made a decision to invest in data for our business because we understood its immense value to the organisation and its importance in helping us to live our No Harm, Future Thinking and Results values. The Interstate Asset Capture Project is setting ARTC up for an exciting future, where we can service our customers more efficiently than ever before.

“The validated datasets being produced by Agonics and the ARTC project team are even finding applications outside of ARTC where partner organisations are able to leverage the datasets for a range of engineering investigations producing better outcomes overall.

This Sponsored Editorial is brought to you by Agonics. For more information, please visit agonics.com.

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