Bettina Bernhard

Why Excel doesn't fit on the rail

Post from 22. March 2024

The maintenance of rail vehicles is facing a phase of transformation, driven by the integration of advanced technologies and novel approaches aimed at significantly enhancing the efficiency, reliability, and safety of maintenance processes. Despite this promising outlook, many companies still rely on programs such as Access databases and Excel sheets, which do not meet the requirements of modern maintenance today. While they may be useful for some general administrative tasks, they often reach their limits when it comes to the complex requirements of rail vehicle maintenance.

Why Excel falls short

Critical aspects in choosing maintenance tools for rail vehicles and rail infrastructure

There are many reasons why Excel or other traditional programs are not suitable for maintaining rail vehicles and rail infrastructure. Often, when selecting a suitable tool for maintenance, companies primarily consider the investment costs. However, there are other, far more important aspects that should be considered when making the decision.


Complexity of Data

Maintaining a fleet of rail vehicles requires managing a variety of complex data, including technical specifications, maintenance histories, inspection reports, and much more. In spreadsheet programs like Excel, it is not possible to process and manage this data in a structured and efficient manner. The result is confusing tables and a significant manual effort in data maintenance.


Limited Data Processing Capacity

Excel spreadsheets and Access databases have limited capacities for data processing. Large amounts of data, including information on vehicles, maintenance histories, spare parts, inspections, employees, and more, required in rail vehicle maintenance, can lead to performance issues with these tools, making them slower and less efficient – which in turn hinders work performance or processes.


Difficulty in Relationship Management

Another problem with using Access and Excel in rail vehicle maintenance is the difficulty in managing relationships between different data. In maintenance, it is crucial to understand, manage, and document the relationships between vehicles, components, spare parts, maintenance histories, employees, and other factors. Traditional data management systems may not provide the necessary functions to efficiently represent and manage these relationships, leading to inconsistencies and data errors.


Missing real-time collaboration function

The disadvantage of Excel regarding collaboration and workflow optimization in rail vehicle maintenance is primarily due to the lack of a real-time collaboration function. Consequently, multiple users cannot work concurrently on an Excel file without encountering conflicts or risking data loss. This limitation can cause delays and hinder the efficiency of maintenance processes when multiple team members require simultaneous access to maintenance data.


Lack of Security and Data Backup

Information security and data backup are also important aspects to consider when managing maintenance data. Maintenance management solutions should also meet state-of-the-art security standards, allowing control and monitoring of access to sensitive data. Specialized software solutions also enable regular data backups to avoid data loss. In contrast, Access and Excel do not have the same security and data backup features, which could pose a potential risk to the integrity of maintenance data.


Automation of Maintenance Processes

Maintenance management solutions are increasingly equipped with automated features that simplify and accelerate the planning and execution of maintenance work. This includes, for example, the automatic generation of work orders based on predictive analytics, automatic scheduling and allocation of resources, and automatic documentation of maintenance activities. Through this automation, companies can save time and resources while improving the accuracy and efficiency of maintenance processes.


Lack of Integration

Specific maintenance management solutions can be seamlessly integrated into existing enterprise systems, such as interfaces to commercial Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. This integration enables smooth data flow between different departments and processes, improving efficiency. In contrast, Excel or Access cannot provide this seamless integration, leading to isolated data silos, high manual administrative overhead, and inefficient processes.


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Rail-specific maintenance solutions in the fast lane

Modern maintenance solutions, specifically designed for the railway industry, effortlessly overcome all the challenges mentioned earlier. In addition, these solutions offer additional functionalities from which companies can benefit. This includes not only compliance with rail-specific standards and norms but also other aspects that make the use of these tools even more attractive.


Mobile support for maintenance technicians

IMaintenance management systems increasingly provide mobile applications and tools that allow maintenance technicians to perform maintenance tasks on-site and enter data directly into the system. Mobile applications offer features such as pre-made checklists or access to maintenance guidelines to improve the efficiency and accuracy of maintenance work. This allows maintenance technicians to work more flexibly, reduce errors, and increase productivity.


Integration of IoT and Predictive Maintenance

Maintenance solutions are increasingly enhanced with IoT and Predictive Maintenance features to enable comprehensive capture, analysis, and utilization of maintenance data. Thanks to the integration of sensors in rail vehicles, these solutions can capture and analyze real-time data about the condition of the vehicles to detect potential issues early, before they lead to costly breakdowns. This proactive approach can not only increase vehicle uptime but also reduce maintenance costs.


Continuous development and adaptation

Standard maintenance management software is continuously developed and adapted to changing requirements and technologies. Through regular updates and upgrades, companies can ensure that their maintenance solution is always up-to-date and provides the best possible support for their maintenance activities. This allows companies to flexibly respond to new challenges and opportunities and continuously improve their maintenance processes.


Discover Boom Rail Solutions

Maximized investment security: Success guarantee thanks to pilot workshop

Boom Software has introduced a proven method where the customer’s requirements are captured and documented in great detail during a joint workshop. At the end of this workshop, the customer receives a customized prototype tailored to their company, which they can test and evaluate internally to make a decision.

This approach not only enables Boom to precisely determine the scope of a project in advance but also gives prospective clients the opportunity to determine beforehand what specific solution they need and what solution they will receive from Boom before committing to anything further. This approach incurs no obligations for the customer for further development steps. Not only does this approach contribute to successful implementation, but it also strengthens the trust and satisfaction of the customers.

Are you interested in participating in a pilot workshop with Boom? Then don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you to gather your requirements and develop your prototype.



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