Tram Refurbishment Project Acceleration Through Manufacturing Program Stabilisation & Control


Australia’s largest manufacturer and maintainer of railway rolling stock engaged ORBIZ to facilitate the stabilisation and acceleration of the most extensive tram refurbishment project in the world. 

The $230m baseline contract involved a series of refurbishment works to 450 trams that constitute 85% of the entire fleet that carries 200 million passengers a year on the world’s largest tram network.  

The works include carriage body remediation, upgrade and overhaul of critical subsystems, drivers cab and lighting upgrades, and an internal and external aesthetic refresh.  

The project was particularly challenging since the contractor was not the OEM and lacked prior experience with these fleets.


ORBIZ were engaged in facilitating a performance turnaround activity to help resolve several critical issues. These issues included lack of engineering scope clarity, material shortages, workforce capacity and capability constraints, and a lack of production controls and effective reporting.  

The ORBIZ consultant facilitated the development of a series of cross-functional improvement plans to align the departmental teams on shared objectives, priorities and timelines. These plans aligned to critical project KPIs linked back to the contract.  

The project delivery team managed the execution and governance of the improvement plans through a project Visual Management Centre (VMC).


Phase 1 of the activity focused on stabilising the production program by addressing the problems causing significant delays. A series of critical issues were identified and addressed following a comprehensive operational review. 

  • Lineside VMCs were developed and introduced to improve production control and create forums for team planning and problem-solving activity. 
  • A VMC to improve communication between production and supply through increased material delivery control and reporting was designed and implemented. 
  • DIFOT KPIs were introduced at each production station to measure the availability of materials and increase supply team accountability. 

Phase 2 involved developing and introducing a VMC to improve communication and governance at the leadership level to improve overall project delivery.  

An existing VMC was revised to include new KPIs and functional improvement plans owned by each department leader. Governance meetings were held twice weekly to create accountability and provide an opportunity for escalation and support.  

Phase 3 concentrated on removing waste from the production process by applying lean manufacturing principles. 

ORBIZ facilitated a series of process observations and data analysis to identify and quantify opportunities for improvement. The team prioritised opportunities based on cost and ease of implementation vs impact, then developed a program for the production teams to deliver.


  • 42% improvement in tram refurbishment TAT (66-days to 38)
  • 100% increase production throughput (3.5-trams/month to 7)
  • $350k pa saving in labour costs on B-Class fleet