WHEN Tube Lines assumed control of maintenance and upgrading work on London Underground's Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines under the 30-year Public-Private Partnership (RG 10.06 p669), it inherited no less than 547 separate databases with information about the state of the assets.

With only four or five hours available each night for engineering work, better asset management would offer substantial benefits. Given the potential for disruption during modernisation, and the fact that paper-based systems precluded real-time decision-making, Tube Lines decided to develop a Whole Life Asset Management package, encompassing a single asset register, wireless-enabled management tools and PDA hand-held devices.

WLAM combines the Maximo database package with Intergraph's Geographical Interface Suite. Front-line staff have been provided with Symbol 8840 hand-held devices, which have improved the accuracy of data reporting and enabled planned and emergency maintenance programmes to be updated in real time.

Two years into its contract, Tube Lines had rolled out the new system to 2 000 employees and 2 000 contractors, working on 11 different asset groups at 200 sites.

Hub of the system is the integrated control centre at Tube Lines' headquarters in Canary Wharf, where a wall display shows the status of all three routes. Controllers working at individual workstations can home in on key areas and interrogate the database about specific assets or work tasks.

After two years of operation, Tube Lines says the technology has brought significant benefits in the way it manages its business.

Work orders are sent to staff via PDA, and can be combined with the GIS data, giving an overview of all assets and faults. Tube Lines has been able to build up a complete picture of the condition of its assets, the timing of maintenance, and the impact of that work over time. An early benefit was the completion by May 31 2005 of risk assessments for each of the 5 000 track defects that the company inherited.

Productive time on the track has risen from 24% to 28% of engineering hours to an average of more than 70%, with some individual night shifts achieving peaks of more than 90%.

  • At the heart of Tube Lines' asset management suite is the integrated control centre at Canary Wharf, where staff monitor each route in real time
  • Staff now receive maintenance instructions via PDA