I Jul 2012

Procurement of materials for infrastructure: a complex task, but a fundamental one for maintenance

How the Superstructure Materials and Work Vehicles Operating Department functions. What does it mean, having to guarantee an infrastructure of over 16 thousand kilometres in length, such as the Italian Railway Network (RFI), for 365 days of the year? This includes the procurement of all materials, from ballast to switches, rails and sleepers, as well as all the technological products that are used for maintenance interventions and investment works.

It is an extremely complex job in terms of organisation and logistics, and a huge responsibility because any problem that arises from materials procurement reflects on the works and therefore on the network’s availability. The network is at the top end of the technological and quality scale on the international scene, but every aspect of it must be dealt with each day with constant, obsessive precision. The railway infrastructure is like a large theatre stage on which megastars such as the Frecciarossa trains and honest character actors such as the Regional trains perform. And just as in the theatre, the play comes to a halt if there are no stagehands and scene shifters to keep it running, so in RFI there are these irreplaceable professionals who ensure that the essential materials for maintenance operations and for investment works are present every day.

We met Alessio Sammartino, manager of the Superstructure Materials and Work Vehicles Operating Department, working in Procurement and Logistics for RFI’s Production Directorate, in order to train the spotlight – continuing the theatrical metaphor – on this activity and the methods used to carry it out.

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