Best Practices - Asset Management: Going Beyond a State of Good Repair through Digitalization

June 8, 2020
A going digital strategy that includes deploying digital twins to reflect the real-world state of assets at all times is becoming a necessity for rail and transit organizations.

With limited resources and an ever-present demand for reliability, U.S. transit agencies face challenging times. Rail and transit networks are an essential source of mobility, as passengers depend on safe and efficient service. As such, transit agencies are maintaining and improving current systems and processes to comply with the federal State of Good Repair (SGR) requirements.

When assets do not meet SGR requirements, they pose a risk to travelers’ safety and can damage the reputation of transit organizations and their personnel. Should problems occur and travelers are unable to reach their destination, the hard-earned respect for the agencies working to meet timetabled commitments diminishes, and restoring confidence can take time and resources. The most significant concern for transit asset management (TAM) is the risk of a major incident, which can lead to severe consequences and reduce stakeholder confidence in the asset management budget.

SGR requires public transportation providers to develop and implement TAM plans that include an asset inventory, condition assessments and a list of investments intended to improve the state of capital assets. This rule also establishes an SGR standard and performance measures, including rolling stock, facilities, infrastructure and equipment. Transit agencies can comply by collecting data and instituting reporting requirements as per the TAM guidelines. Furthermore, the MAP-21 and FAST Act legislation requires transit agencies to regularly collect and report facility conditions to the National Transit Database (NTD). But, does collecting and reporting raw data satisfy the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) requirements and advance your TAM Plan?

Condition assessments must be clarified by assessing the state of assets and assigning a rating for each using the FTA’s Transit Economic Requirements Model scale. Additionally, the rule requires assessments to be detailed enough to monitor and predict the future performance of assets to prioritize investments within the agency’s TAM plan. But agencies still face the challenge of overcoming aging infrastructure, historical underinvestment and a lack of consistent measurement of asset condition. As a result, agencies have limited visibility into asset deterioration, making SGR maintenance difficult. However, asset performance solutions can increase the value of data and optimize maintenance strategies by moving away from preventative maintenance to proactive condition-based maintenance.

Therefore, a going digital strategy that includes deploying digital twins to reflect the real-world state of assets at all times is becoming a necessity for rail and transit organizations. With advances in technology, regulations and available funding, implementing a going digital strategy can help agencies optimize costs, reduce risks and increase performance. With the addition of data management, TAM plans can perform as a cross-functional communication pathway enabling organizations to encourage cultural change and break down data silos to help make better and more informed decisions. Data-driven solutions that include digital twins help to collect, create, visualize and analyze asset-related data, enabling agencies to go beyond complying with federal SGR requirements and ensure the future success of the organization.

Emerging factors such as big data, 5G, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the ability to leverage digital twins provide significant value to transit agencies. This empowers agencies with the capability to optimize operations and streamline capital programs to achieve and maintain a State of Good Repair.


Narinder Manku, is Bentley Systems' solution marketing manager for Rail Asset Performance.