Fueling and maintenance is a primary service at most Class I rail yards. Performing these operations thoroughly and efficiently saves money, limits downtime and impacts to the environment, and helps improve average train speed which is arguably the railroad industry’s primary benchmark. Traditionally, the industry has relied on local reports from individual rail yards or sporadic internal regulatory audits to identify compliance deficiencies and evaluate areas for improvement. This reactionary practice does little to identify and predict operational deficiencies before they happen, and can lead to project delays and cost overruns.
Implementing a proactive and predictive fuel system audit program, managed by independent experts, can help railroads consistently identify and respond to maintenance needs, plan capital projects and support compliance with Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations.
A successful fuel system audit will assess, score and rank individual pieces of equipment, systems and whole facilities. Because fueling facilities are similar across multiple sites, a master set of audit guidelines can be applied to help achieve congruence across a whole railroad system. Those guidelines should be sure to address any variables that may affect operations — type of fueling done onsite; weather considerations; presence of a fuel management system; correct valving arrangements; standard operating procedures; spill response and prevention plans; and training– and provide a ranking system to help prioritize facility upgrades and capital expenditures.
A standard audit should address the following areas:
A thorough inspection of all mechanical systems associated with locomotive fueling and maintenance should include notes, photo documentation, and numeric scores for all equipment and systems.
While time consuming and complex to get off the ground, initiating and completing the process will:
Working with an independent, skilled auditor will save time and ensure a consistent evaluation across all fuel systems and facilities.
What are your rail yard fuel system challenges? Do you have an audit procedure in place to help support maintenance and planning? Please share your questions and best practices in the comments section below.