Locomotive Service Optimisation through Examination Process Standardisation


Due to an extended period of underinvestment in this client's rolling stock and supporting infrastructure, the competitiveness of rail for the national movements of freight had been significantly eroded.

Having regained control of the network, the federal government approved a 10-year turnaround plan aimed at redeveloping the rail network to enable it to again compete against alternative modes of transport and more effectively support the nation's economic growth and development.

The vision is to develop this state-owned rail company into a self-sustainable business that can provide value for money to its customers and the taxpayers who fund it.


ORBIZ was engaged to facilitate improvements in the safety of nationwide locomotive servicing operations, reduce the cost of servicing operations and improve on-time departure from depot performance.

A project team consisting of personnel from across four regionally dispersed locomotive service depots that included management, tradespeople and union representatives was formed.

The project team was governed through the company's 'High Performance, High Engagement (HPHE)' project management methodology and was supported by the Lean and project facilitation subject matter expertise of ORBIZ.

The HPHE governance team set the project team a group of key objectives:

  • Remove or significantly reduce overhead crane usage
  • Improve safety in working at heights processes
  • Utilise Lean methodology to improve facility layout, process design, tooling and material management processes
  • Deliver a 25% reduction in locomotive and tradesman movements
  • Implement a standardised process for all locomotives across all depots that is documented and controlled through standard operating procedures
  • Train the project team through a pilot project to enable a national roll-out of the new processes and standards across all depots

ORBIZ facilitated a one-week workshop with the project team at the pilot depot to create a shared understanding of the current state performance of the locomotive service process at all depots. The workshop was also used to agree on a set of design and performance parameters for a conceptual future state process that could be standardised across all depots.

During the improvement workshop, the following key activities were facilitated:

  • An end to end current state value stream map of the overhaul process
  • Spaghetti diagrams were developed to map and illustrate the movements of components, people and equipment across the facility
  • The safety of the process was analysed, current risks to safety were logged, immediate containments identified, and options for engineering out risks were developed
  • The reliability of tooling critical to the overhaul process was analysed, with unreliable and underperforming equipment being identified
  • Using a 'Blue Sky' approach options for a future state process with a redesigned facility layout and new equipment was modelled to create a vision for how the process could perform with investment and the current safety and reliability issues eliminated


At the end of the improvement workshop, a 90-day plan was developed so the project team could be engaged part-time in the ongoing development and delivery of the improvement program. This plan included the following key activities:

  • A series of initiatives to immediately eliminate or significantly reduce safety risks at each depot
  • Development of engineering solutions to meet the safety improvement objectives set by the governance team
  • Generation of a business case for the small capital investment required at the pilot site to deliver the future state process supported by safety and tooling upgrades
  • Development of a detailed future state process including new facility layout, process design, tooling and shadow boards, lineside materials delivery systems and workforce requirements that could be standardised across all depots

Development and implementation of the new process at the pilot site began immediately, and the small capital investment was quickly signed off to enable the required safety, tooling and material management upgrades to be completed.

The project team returned to the pilot site periodically during the 90-day program to review, develop and agree on the new standard process being developed. Once the new methods had been finalised, the project team began developing implementation plans and any required business cases for roll-out at the remaining depots.


  • 33% improvement in direct labour costs
  • 23% improvement in Turnaround Time (TAT)
  • Safe working platforms introduced to eliminate overhead crane use