REVIEWER: Geir Harald Ingvaldsen, chief engineer for The Norwegian National Rail Administration.

BACKGROUND: The Norwegian National Rail Administration (NNRA), headquartered in Oslo, is the national railway authority. We are responsible for the management of the Norwegian national railway network, on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Communication. The Norwegian National Rail Administration's customers are mainly the railway operators - the traffic companies that make use of our infrastructure.

PLATFORMS: NNRA accesses the Eoscene Intelligence Portal - Quality Management Server through the use of Eoscene's EIPView Hosted Application Service, which operates on a Linux platform. NNRA uses the Internet Explorer browser and Compaq Ipaq PDAs to access the application. The Eoscene Intelligence Portal utilizes open scalable technology and can be deployed on Linux, UNIX, NT and Windows 2000 operating systems. The relational data store supports Oracle, Informix, SQL Server, DB2, Sybase and PostgreSQL.

PROBLEM SOLVED: NNRA inspects the rail infrastructure both manually and through the use of contracted rail inspection vehicles. The challenge lies in getting the rail defect and condition information from the inspection vehicles into the hands of the manual testers and, ultimately, into the hands of our maintenance crews as quickly and efficiently as possible. These rail condition inspectors work from remote field locations and have limited access to centralized systems. The main issue was to increase the speed of the flow of information between the office and multiple field operations.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Eoscene Quality Management Server provides secure access to the latest track testing data. The Quality Management Server consists of a central data management and analysis server, featuring secure access via the Internet, and a remote data management application that runs on a PDA. Eoscene's Quality Management Server delivers data management, analytics and reporting on demand. Utilizing the Quality Management Server, the Eoscene application can answer very specific business questions related to asset condition, quality assurance and even the location of the train cars that are performing the defect testing, allowing us to quickly optimize our resource utilization and defect analysis. The remote handheld data management application improves communication between the field inspectors, the inspection vehicle operators and office personnel. Remote users can now gain access to the data they need to do their job without the reliance on manual (paper) reports. This increased accessibility to data has improved the rate of service and also increased our responsiveness to safety critical issues.

STRENGTHS: The main strength of the new system is providing identical data simultaneously to people on the track and the office personnel, giving us the ability to act immediately when faults related to safety are located. The easy-to-use interface encourages rapid adoption. The implementation process, through data validation, was accomplished in less than four weeks, and we have experienced no system downtime since we implemented the system in July of 2003.

WEAKNESSES: The main weakness in the product for NNRA has been that the handheld solution is not available in Norwegian. This problem will be addressed this summer with the next release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We did not consider other systems because this system was already in use by one of our providers of ultrasonic testing. Eoscene's understanding of the rail industry, our needs and technology is unique among application providers.

DELIVERABLES: Eoscene provided a complete turnkey solution including a data model designed specifically for our business, a hosted data management and reporting server, and handheld data collection software. The system produces standardized reports that are loaded into our maintenance system to generate work orders. Eoscene also provided full documentation and initial onsite training and support to ensure that the system was successfully deployed. On-site support requirements were less than one week.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Eoscene has provided a rapid response to any issues that have arisen. They have also worked closely with us to implement new solutions specialized to Norwegian needs. Access to support with Eoscene is easy and reliable.

DOCUMENTATION: Full system documentation is available both in hard copy and online; however, the system is simple to use and there would be no need for extensive training or documentation.

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