Lean implementation for rail substation processes

Patrick Lindsay Croucamp, Arnesh Telukdarie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Traction substations are an integral part of the railway infrastructure. In order to ensure that machinery and equipment is available and utilised at full capacity, intelligent maintenance methods should be implemented. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the development of lean maintenance strategies implemented on traction substations and offer the maintenance manager an alternative maintenance method to be utilised during optimisation initiatives. Design/methodology/approach: The rail company under consideration has various improvement options, the maintenance supply chain is a priority. The existing maintenance process of 3 kVDC traction substations is examined and all operations and activities directly and indirectly associated with maintenance are analysed with lean methodologies. The analysis of maintenance operations and activities reveals that some of these operations and activities are non-value-adding and, therefore, regarded as waste. These activities only prolong the maintenance process without adding value to the process. Alternative operations and activities are suggested and simulated. Findings: The application of lean indicates that the maintenance process could be optimised to deliver on a more efficient process, which would improve the quality of maintenance by ensuring that maintenance is timeously carried out. Through reducing the downtime caused by maintenance, the availability of the system is preserved and the railway lines could be used to capacity. Research limitations/implications: The research is limited to 3 kVDC traction substations and the associated maintenance process, as this was the area of opportunity for the company. The track and overhead traction equipment maintenance is not included. Practical implications: The practical application of this research is in optimisation of the value chain for maintenance, specifically in the rail industry. Originality/value: This research could be applied by maintenance managers to effectively implement if a run-to-failure (RTF) maintenance philosophy is being utilised. The research offers maintenance techniques within the RTF maintenance scope which reduces the maintenance cycle and equipment downtime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-487
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2018


  • Lean maintenance
  • Problem definition tree
  • Traction Substation
  • Value stream map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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