Case Study Wheel Change Operational Excellence


  • Late last year a project team of TasRail employees were engaged to look at the TR locomotive wheel change process.
  • This occurred during a Lean Kaizen (meaning continuous improvement) facilitated by an experienced, external Improvement Facilitator.

Impact this was having:

  • The wheel change task was known to be labour intensive and time consuming and the process was not documented.
  • With all TR wheel changes falling due within a short timeframe this task loomed as likely to have a significant detrimental impact on locomotive availability.

Desired Future State:

  • Engage with employees to make improvements to improve the process to ensure loco availability.
  • Reduction of labour hours to do wheel changes.
  • Documentation of the process to capture current knowledge and to enable continuous improvement of the process in the future.

The Approach Undertaken and Solutions Implemented:

During 2017 the team have worked to implement the identified improvements and this has resulted in some excellent outcomes.

Benefits Achieved:

The implemented improvements have resulted in:

  • A total of forty (40) hours being cut from the task taking the total labour hours from approx. 200hrs to 160hrs.
  • This is a substantial improvement!!!
  • Improved work methods that have eliminated hazardous tasks and manual handling;
  • Improved and new work instructions to capture the improved work methods, timeframes for tasks and therefore retention of knowledge for continuous improvement in the future;
  • A better understanding of job timeframes now allow for more accurate planning; and
  • Implementation of Lean 5S has also proven to be an invaluable tool for the work areas involved in this task and these improvements no doubt will have a roll-on effect for any other tasks storage.
  • Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are being generated through Power BI giving data and information to understand performance of the Tamper and drive continuous improvement.