I May 2012

Infrastructure under control thanks to Maintenance Engineering

The Struttura Operativa Armamento ed Opere Civili (Civil Works and Superstructure Operating Department) has normative, directive, and inspection duties as well as the responsibility of monitoring activities. Organizing the maintenance of a rail network which is as large and complex as the one run by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (Italian Rail Network) is an operation which is as intricate as it is fundamental in providing rail operations with a safe infrastructure which is always in the best possible condition, both in terms of regularity (which in the rail sector as in the aeronautic sector, preconditions any kind of activity) and in terms of productivity.

Over the last few years Rete Ferroviaria Italiana has engineered maintenance activities by creating a structured organization specially dedicated to this aspect.

We met up with the engineer Giuseppe Arcoleo, the person in charge of the Struttura Operativa Armamento ed Opere Civili, who gave us an accurate description of the activities it performs.

“The specialized department I am in charge of,” explains Giuseppe Arcoleo, “is part of the Production-Maintenance Engineering Department. We take care of designing, controlling, monitoring and engineering the maintenance activities aimed at guaranteeing the safety, reliability, availability and maintainability of the rail infrastructure in terms of superstructure and civil works; basically everything to do with the track, from the rail bed to the rails themselves, as well as engineering structures such as bridges, viaducts, tunnels and works for safeguarding and protecting the track”. Defining the activities of the Struttura Operativa is no simple matter, also because it covers some very varied areas of expertise, from defining maintenance programs to the production of technical standards, maintenance criteria and operating procedures, right through to monitoring all the executed activities, without mentioning all the analyses and studies for re-engineering maintenance and logistic processes aimed at improving the quality, reliability and maintainability of the infrastructure while sticking to the assigned costs and objectives.

“We have the responsibility of defining the maintenance programs, drawing up and updating the criteria by which these maintenance operations are carried out based on the relative laws, regulations and adopted standards”, Arcoleo underlines, “furthermore we monitor the maintenance plans for the sector and their application by Regional Directorates. To this already demanding activity we must also add the constant activity involved in the production of technical standards and updates to the rule-making procedures. We identify the need to modify the railway systems and check the resolutions which the Regional Directorates produce in the case of urgent interventions.  Last but not least, our department draws up the technical standards on the basis of which new machinery, work vehicles and personal protective equipment typical for the railways are purchased and it develops analyses and studies to improve the engineering of maintenance operations.”

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