Case Study TasRail - Tamper

Situation / Driver:

  • The project commenced with emphasis on reliability of the Tamper to increase performance
  • There was no consistent output of the Tamper
  • Different strategies have been trialled regarding ownership and responsibility for the Tamper
  • Expectations were not being met and this was creating pressure to the point of considering double shifting; money, hours and time to address productivity
  • Machine had been damaged through machine design and operator error
  • Some repairs to the machine were not to original equipment manufacturing (OEM) standard
  • There were many assumptions that existed with what the issues were with the Tamper
  • Crew morale was low; culminating with derailment of the machine at Penguin. An investigation was undertaken. There were repetitive issues that were simmering under the surface and the derailment brought them to light. The report from the investigation was the driver for change, buy in around the desired outcomes was sought and agreed and was signed off by the GM Asset Management
  • Components of the machine were faulty causing disruptive operation
  • Engineering support was not integrated within the team



  • A documented tamping procedure has been developed
  • Work instructions have been developed, reviewed and are being implemented in conjunction with the Operators
  • Minimum safe operating procedures have been developed for the team
  • Pre-preparation for each job has been implemented by the Crew


  • Competencies as per the EA were assessed, completed and signed off for each Operator
  • Tamping crew have been reassessed in Certificate II and III in
  • Infrastructure Maintenance
  • A structured Machine Specific Training program for Operators is being developed
  • Identified a need to expand safe working and training for this is being undertaken
  • Sessions held with the Tamping Crew to involve them in getting their ideas to identify issues and implementing initiatives to improve tamper performance
  • Meetings have been held in the field
  • Weekly meetings have been implemented involving the operators and Supervisor to discuss and analyse the past week’ s performance and plan the week ahead. These serve as ideal forums to identify and address potential improvement initiatives and celebrate success and imbed ownership of the equipment.
  • Targets have been set and are being monitored


  • Roster for the Crew and Daily Sheet developed and is being used
  • Monthly Plan that the Tamper Crew use and gives them structure


  • Shifted the focus from reactive maintenance to more of a planned approach to maintenance
  • Identified intermittent equipment reliability i.e. projector and receivers
  • Concentrated effort to get the machine geometry configuration to OEM specifications
  • Specialist from the manufacturing company did fine tuning to get the machine flying
  • Review of amenities to ensure operator comfort i.e. machine cleaned up and organised inside i.e. shelf, tea and coffee containers, water


Reliability     November ‘15   66%           July ‘16 88%

Availability    November ‘15   71%           July ‘16 82%

Rate             November ‘15   425m/ph    July ‘16 610 m/ph

Note: MTBF is Mean Time Between Failures and is measured in minutes operating time.
Note: Tamping rate is calculated on maximum
rate/min x 60 to get rate/hour and based on single tamp single pass, machine has been double tamp single pass since April and currently average rate is around 250 / hour which includes plot time

Benefits Achieved

  • A consistent tamping performance has been achieved so tamping can be planned and monitored with targets
  • The skills of Chris and Peter have enabled detailed analysis of root causes of issues
  • Improved morale – lower stress and improved confidence within the Crew
  • There is now a single point of contact if there are issues, suggestions or the Crew want to raise ideas
  • Improved knowledge about the Tamper and its use

Weekly Availability

Reliability (Cumulative)

Metres Tamped

The Future:

  • There needs to be continued focus and resources that continue the work that has “picked the low hanging fruit) and eliminate waste i.e.. Move to 4 x 10 hour days as the rate increases, set up time
  • Review and improve the indicators to further understand quality, rate, reliability i.e. $’s per km tamped
  • Continue to automate tamper measurement and reporting
  • Service Truck approval and implementation
  • Use technology to give the Tamping Crew live access to measures and performance
  • Continue to develop the Operator/Maintainer role
  • Target of 2km per day has been set
  • Tamper Performance Summary to be prepared and sent out each week