Condition-Based Maintenance Program Management

Case Study:

Condition-Based Maintenance Program Management

Project Mission and Background

Our client is the largest freight railroad company in North America, with 32,500 miles of rail across the United States. In addition to its vast rail network, our client operates eight maintenance facilities that perform preventive maintenance, repairs and servicing of locomotives and railcar equipment.


To reduce operation costs and prevent railcar derailments (i.e. service interruptions), our client has contracted with Lewis Fowler to manage the Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) Implementation. The CBM Program’s goal is to:


  • Implement a centralized information technology platform to receive incoming track-based detection messages from a passing train to ascertain the conditions of the railcar equipment.
  • Configure a rule-based solution to generate alarms to alert the Mechanical Support Desk and Field personnel regarding potential issues or failures on the railcar equipment.
  • Develop a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to ascertain the relevance of each alarm in order to appropriately take actions (i.e. Inspect the railcar at the next station or immediately stop the train).


Over the past two years, our client made several attempts, with limited success, to develop, test and deploy a technology-based business solution capable of receiving millions of daily track-based detection records from passing train cars and then generating alarms to warn of potential issues with the railcar equipment. During this two year period, our client had hired several firms, including a big-four consulting firm, to develop this technical solution as well as implementing a project management governance and framework model within the company.


After significant monetary investment in technology, people, and processes, executive management recognized that the root cause of the client’s project failures (i.e. uncontrolled scope and poor product quality) was a project management deficiency across the entire Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) Program. To challenge the status quo and deploy this critical business solution with unprecedented value to the organization, our client contracted with Lewis Fowler to realign the Program Management Office (PMO) and steer the CBM Program back on track.

Our Approach

Lewis Fowler began by assessing the current CBM Program Management Office (PMO) and identifying areas for improvement by conducting organizational surveys, performing interviews and managing by walking around (MBWA) activities. We then proceeded to organize these improvement areas by priority and impact to the project (i.e., cost benefit analysis) as well as categorizing the opportunities based on resource allocation, skills development, and PMO governance action items (e.g., implement a Change Request Board and improve financial forecasting tools). This list of PMO improvements became the corrective action plan that drove the transformation within the CBM program.


In addition to the corrective action plan, Lewis Fowler partnered with the CBM leadership team to define a list of critical success factors for FY 2015 which would be used at year-end to measure the team’s performance. For instance, the CBM team was charged with deploying 8 out of 15 track-based detectors by the end of the year while reducing product defects by 20%.

Direct Benefits

By choosing Lewis Fowler, our client successfully deployed 6 track-based detectors before November 2015 and they are within reach of delivering the remaining two track detectors before the end of 2015. Furthermore, Lewis Fowler helped our client to decrease overall CBM Program costs by 11.5% by implementing a new set of financial controls.

 Results of Condition-Based PM


The partnership between Lewis Fowler and our client has likely prevented several railcar derailments since the implementation of the 6 track-based detectors, thus protecting the lives of railcar crews and residents living along the railroad tracks, as wells millions of dollars in cargo.


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