Sydney Trains iREC Project
It’s time to get on board and get GS1 compliant!
Sydney Trains is leading the rail industry with implementation of ARA endorsed Project i-TRACE.
As the largest rail operator in Australia, they have taken a leadership role in implementing Project i-TRACE. Sydney Trains is both an operator and a supplier to the industry via the Rail Equipment Centre (REC). The REC is a division within Sydney Trains that provides rail infrastructure equipment as well as electrical, electronics, fabrication, machinery and engineering services to Sydney Trains as well as other rail operators. The REC manufactures a variety of components for the rail industry at its state of the art facility based at the Sydney suburb of Homebush.
This project, a major milestone, was completed in June this year; ahead of schedule and is the start of continued improvement opportunities at Sydney Trains. The project had three parts; part marking, data readiness and cataloguing.
Marking required initial determination of the appropriate marking technology for each type of product. There was analysis of multiple options and through trial and error, it was decided to use a mix of synthetic labels with a GS1 DataMatrix placed on a non-functional part of the material using laser engraving. Their implementation plan was to define the marking method for over 1,000 stock materials manufactured or refurbished by their Rail Equipment Centre and to set up the master data so that all future production is marked to GS1 standards.
||Synthetic labels on products
In parallel they prepared their master data to be ready to publish to the National Product Catalogue (NPC) and GS1’s Smart Media solution. Data readiness for the NPC involved the implementation of a Material Master Data (MMD) capturing process. This required the collection of the MMD into a database and recording this data in their ERP systems where applicable. Examples of the data collected includes; GTIN, Classification, Brand, Description, Dimensional and weight data, Product date, Product photos, Packaging and Drawing number.
This data was then uploaded into a product catalogue, ready for publishing. So that everyone in the rail industry can view the correct data, in a standardised format.
| SmartMedia Catalogue
These three parts in the project will deliver the following benefits;
- Better customer service because of more consistent product identification and ability to trace
- A strong foundation to build further barcoding activities and digital capabilities for future projects
- Ability to share data in the same format to enhance the industry’s digital journey
Now that this project is completed, next steps will be working with larger suppliers to ensure they are also able to supply their products compliant to standards set out in Project i-TRACE and to capture master data for an additional 2,500 products made to Sydney Trains specification by external manufacturers.
Veronika Lisitskaya, the iREC Project Manager at Sydney Trains says: “GS1 Australia contributed to the success of the iREC project. They were always ready to guide, share their experience and best practices. It was especially helpful when we were analyzing methods of marking technologies”.
Lessons learned from iREC
- Place label or direct mark on a non-functional surface of the product, so that the use of the product is not compromised
- Photo taking on site minimises risk not to have the product available when required, and dimensions and weight can be captured at the same time
- The way to measure dimensions and volume can be confusing. Rail products are not always as clear cut as retail products being displayed on a supermarket shelf, and don’t always have a ‘front face’. Therefore we defined the dimensions as a rectangular box where Width = the longest, Depth = the 2nd longest, Height = the shortest, and Volume = WxDxH.
- Being an operational warehouse, the removal of products for photography needed to be managed. We implemented a simple temporary solution, a 2-part label was used to identify each product. One part was left in the storage bin so storeman knew if an item was taken for photos. The second part with barcode accompanied the item, enabling the photo team to scan barcode for foolproof ID.
Once barcode scanning has been enabled in the ERP system, Sydney Trains looks forwards to scanning barcodes on product from external suppliers without the need to re-barcode when it comes in to the warehouse. They will utilise the original GS1 marking from a supplier, all the way through the supply chain to a maintainer.
Bill Steward, the Material Data Manager at Sydney Trains says “i-TRACE will be a success once all products coming into the customer warehouse have a GS1-compliant barcode, and that barcode is backed up by master data in the NPC which has been created by the supplier and shared with customers. The NPC should be the single source of the truth with regard to product data.”
So, as a supplier, Sydney Trains is now GS1 compliant.
For those suppliers looking at implementing Project i-TRACE, Sydney Trains Tony Anetts, Associate Director Supply Chain, has the following advice:
“Get on Board with i-TRACE folks. The time has passed that bespoke item identification makes sense; the rail industry operates in a connected world and our data needs to connect seamlessly, to allow us to focus on how to be both better and more efficient.
Within Sydney Trains we have commenced our i-TRACE journey by pulling apart what we deliver for infrastructure internally, and delivering a project to introduce the i-TRACE standards. We believe in the benefits of both a single industry i-TRACE standard, and a Rail Industry NPC; we are now proudly compliant with both for all internally manufactured or refurbished items.
The next step for us is for our suppliers to provide us i-TRACE compliant materials and for us to develop our scanning technology to remove manual interfaces in our supply chain. We are looking to work with suppliers who are on this journey with us.”
GS1 Australia will work with suppliers to the rail industry and provide support and education to help get it right. GS1 Australia has been working with the local rail industry for five years to help embed digital foundations. Project i-TRACE encompasses the marking and unique identifying of products in the supply chain. This then allows improvement in logistics processes and sets the critical foundation to enable better asset management.