We’ve Got an App for That! Asset Management Efficiencies at Penn Station

One of the country’s busiest transit hubs and the gateway to the city for people from all over the world, Penn Station is undergoing a massive transformation from its easternmost edge at 7th Avenue with East End Gateway to its westernmost edge at 9th Avenue with Moynihan Train Hall.

In the midst of this transformation, the MTA is committed to keeping stairs, elevators and other Penn Station conveyances safe and reliable for thousands and thousands of passengers and visitors. This once required mountains of paperwork but now, thanks to the LIRR’s new Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) application, inspectors now have better tools to get the job done.

We’re all used to barcodes on store products and show tickets, but why would anyone put a barcode on a staircase? Why? Efficiency, of course! Every day around a quarter-million LIRR customers pass through Penn Station, moving to and from their trains by means of 63 separate staircases, elevators and escalators within the station. To move these folks safely and efficiently, the LIRR must maintain all 63 station conveyances in excellent working order.

This used to require endless on-site inspections and back-office recordkeeping and all the of the back and forth with clipboards, ink, paper forms…but no more! Thanks to a new program developed by the Railroad’s Enterprise Asset Management team, one quick scan of a barcode syncs up field personnel with office databases for fast, accurate, paperless inspections of station assets.

“This is really a first for us,” says Lakshmin Sai, the LIRR’s chief EAM officer. “This is the first time we’ve used barcoding of our assets to perform work in the field directly through our Infor for Transit mobile EAM application. The whole team worked diligently to implement these inspections and ensure the continued safety of our passengers.”

The Infor software is the backbone of hundreds of EAM projects now rolling out at all MTA agencies. It provides agency operations with a unified, customizable system for tracking asset data, along with the analytical tools to make better, data-driven decisions. The result? Immensely improved asset maintenance and cost-efficiency, which means elevators, escalators and staircases throughout the system are safer and more reliable.

At Penn Station, MTA personnel scan the barcodes on elevators, escalators and staircases are scanned with a smartphone, which instantly brings up that asset’s daily inspection checklist. Field personnel can pull up asset histories, click through inspection checklists and zap electronic forms right back to the Infor system, along with photos and/or notes.

“It’s saved time and paper, since we no longer need to pull up Work Orders, print them, and then disperse them to the work force,” says Anthony Siegler, LIRR’s assistant manager of facility maintenance at Penn Station. The EAM application also eliminates extra legwork, missing data, and human error. Best of all, it provides a basis for more customized applications in the future, including better analysis of maintenance schedules, more accurate inventory and direct parts ordering.

“This kind of application will be advancing to other assets and across the whole LIRR system,” Sai explains. “We’re barcoding over 400 pieces of station cleaning equipment over the next couple of months.”

The overall Penn Station redevelopment master plan, which includes the creation of the Moynihan Train Hall, continues to move forward and will fully transform Penn Station into a modern, world-class transportation hub. The focal point of this new project will be the East End Gateway – a gleaming new entrance at 7th Avenue and 33rd Street: this improvement will result in a significant decrease in crowding, greater entry/egress capacity and wider concourses. The project will also include notably higher ceilings – providing bright lighting, new wayfinding signage, ticketing and informational systems. A new temporary ticketing window opened in the LIRR concourse on December 11th. For more information and construction photos, please visit the East End Gateway and LIRR Concourse project page on AModernLI.com.