The world is an ever-smaller place, and the rail industry is increasingly being dominated by international companies and global players.

However, there is still room for specialist companies with particular skills, and it was to one of these that an Australian company recently turned.

Yarra Trams, operators of Melbourne’s light rail network, recently awarded a major consultancy contract to Unipart Rail to support passenger vehicle operations in its depot facilities.

The operator has engaged a team of expert practitioners for the next 12 months to develop and implement new ways of working, drawing on experience gained from similar projects in the UK and Australia where Unipart Rail has been operating for over seven years.

The aim of the project is to support Yarra Trams operational teams to learn lean tools and embed these skills into their working practices to ensure that the enhancements gained through the redeveloped facilities are fully realised to deliver a ‘best in class’ tram maintenance facility.

Yarra Trams is keen to adopt its own ‘Lean Way’, developing its own lean capability in the deployment of the principles, tools and techniques of the lean methodology and to support the development of the other members of staff. The process of establishing this lean capability embeds the lean skills and approach into the organisation to ensure sustainable benefits in the long term which is central to the consultancy approach utilised by Unipart Rail.

Global reach

As a global supply company of products and services for the rail industry, Unipart Rail has unique expertise in providing comprehensive supply chain management, engineering support and consultancy services that improves the effectiveness of the complete supply chain from a wide range of over 700 global suppliers through to specific points of delivery, exactly when required.

The Yarra Trams contract that was won in Australia shows how the company can provide support to train and tram depots on a worldwide basis. Veronique Lajoie, general manager of Yarra Trams, commented: “One of the benefits of using Unipart is their experience in engaging with the teams and bringing them to change their culture step by step. Their approach of building our internal capability by different levels of training among the teams will allow us to get ownership of the Lean approach.”

By working closely with customers and suppliers, Unipart Rail organises and delivers a logistics solution that is designed to make the partners’ operations as effective as possible. This is achieved through exceptionally high levels of material availability and a fully aligned supply chain.

Aware that every client has its own individual requirements, the company ensures satisfaction through a holistic approach to the railway industry. By integrating the skills of its 800 employees, the specifically tailored services and experience in the industry with its desire to offer the best solution, the company finds new innovations that not only benefit the customer, but the industry as a whole.

This collaborative approach has been a major driver in the company and lead to Unipart Rail being one of the first companies in the rail industry to gain certification to the BS11000 Standard for Collaborative Business Relationships.

The achievement of the 2015 UKRIA national rail award for Collaborative Working by Unipart Rail recognises this commitment toworkingwithitspartnersto deliver superior solutions at excellent value.

Scheduled deliveries

Unipart Rail is also a leading stockist and distributor of an extensive range of rail industry products with over 70,000 material stock-heads to support industry peaks and troughs and shipped to over 100 delivery points in the UK every day of the year. Many products are available on a Next Day delivery service to provide a fast re-supply capability to handle unplanned maintenance issues.

Stock can be supplied as total component packages, in kitting solutions and scheduling for complex material packages to achieve overhaul and maintenance milestones. By understanding the requirements of the depot’s activities materials can be delivered at the right time, in the right place to ensure C4 and C6 exam work is completed to schedule, for example.

From a customer’s point of view Unipart Rail provides cost effective transactional processes with a single supplier that reduces inventory costs and stockholding.

Engineering and technical support

In addition to supply chain management and consultancy services, Unipart Rail offers a complete package of technical and engineering-based solutions to identify and resolve operational problems and concerns encountered by train operators worldwide.

The full range of engineering product support, obsolescence management, quality and risk management, safety and incident management and warranty and reliability management and is deployed via dedicated fleet engineers who work closely with depot staff to identify issues and develop long term, cost effective solutions.

Remember that next time you’re on a Yarra tram.