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A case study from the UK train operator, Southeastern, of access management of vehicles and tools at its depots.
The company covers 1,000 miles of railway infrastructure and carries around 570,000 passengers every weekday in the south east of England. The company serves commuter-belt Britain with 1400 daily train journeys into London. To keep the trains operable, the company employs hundreds of staff at its rail depots.
Every depot contains vehicles, from vans to lorries bearing heavy equipment. The depots also hold expensive machinery, such as electrical drilling tools; and chemicals, that are classified as biohazards. To use some equipment, each employee must have the right training and approval. This is to ensure the security of tools and vehicles, and also safety of staff. However, ensuring that only the right staff are able to access the right equipment has historically been troublesome.
The key management product company Traka developed a bespoke access management system in which keys are permanently attached to an iFob. The fobs contain an electronic chip, giving each a unique identity. Thus the keys attached to each iFob locks into an automated key dispensing machine. Accompanying software allows Southeastern to upload user profiles for all staff. Linked to the key cabinet, each iFob is assigned a specific port within a Traka key cabinet and locked in place until released by an authorised user.
The system automatically records when a key is used and by whom on a central database. This information is available via the cabinet’s data display or on an administrator’s PC that means the train operator can produce a report for each key showing when it has been used, by whom, and when it was returned. It can also alert management if a key is not returned.
Southeastern reports benefits from the new system. Firstly, control over keys has been improved. Unauthorised staff simply cannot access keys to equipment they are not meant to be using. Managers now do not need to worry about untrained staff using tools that could risk their safety.
Key allocation is now quicker, as staff no longer need to manually sign out keys. Keys are rarely misplaced, because if an employee takes a key, it must be returned within a set time. If it is not, the employee is alerted to that fact, as is their manager. It has also encouraged more responsible use of vehicles and equipment by staff.
Sam Cook, Shift Production Manager at Southeastern said: “It’s all about accountability. Members of staff know that when they take a key, the system logs that to their employee record – so if they lose it, we’ll know. That encourages them to return keys on time and also to leave vehicles and tools in good condition. If a vehicle is damaged, we can look back at who last accessed the relevant key and speak to them about how the damage occurred. Not only does this help us manage the depot and our equipment, but this kind of auditing is a major benefit when it comes to issues such as insurance. When you are managing so many vehicles and various electrical tools, insurance is a major part of life and Traka has helped us ensure we are meeting standards.”