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Maintenance should be holding railcar coatings responsible

A railcar faithfully serves for the length of its lease and then returns to the shop for inspection. The extent of necessary repairs is assessed. It’s repaired and then blasted with an abrasive. Next, the railcar is painted, followed by a curing period. Then quality control tests are run on the car to make sure the application measures up to standards. Finally, dry film readings are taken and some environmental measurements are recorded.

This process is repeated as a part of the railcar maintenance process thousands of times for thousands of railcars in shops all over the country. This leads to a lot of quality control-related paperwork building up. It gets damaged. It gets moved. Even if the measurements are diligently recorded in the first place, the paperwork may no longer be available when the railcar returns for maintenance after five or so years.

railcar inspections

This makes it difficult to determine the cause of damage to the owner’s railcars. Was the railcar coating or lining applied improperly? Or was the product deficient? Being able to determine the cause of the problem is essential to fixing it, and avoiding costly repairs in the future. Digitized, more objective, better-organized quality control is the key to making more informed decisions about the cause of breakdowns.

It’s also key to documenting damage. If you’re an owner that leases your railcars out, you expect normal wear and tear when your cars are returned. But in the case of extensive damage, the car needs to be repaired before it can be leased to another customer. Imagine contaminants or corrosive cargo have pitted the steel in a tank car. It must be cleaned, photographed, and then readings and measurements taken for documentation. The railcar maintenance process in many shops is time-consuming, and frankly, behind the times.

Take your QC digital

Railcar coatings documentation is in need of serious overhaul. Luckily, cloud-based storage already provides a smart alternative to stacks and stacks of paper records. Digitally stored accounts of quality control readings, inspection details and photographs and descriptions of damage can then be retrieved with a few swipes of the finger.

As tablets have become smaller, more durable and less expensive, their usefulness in industrial settings has increased dramatically. Software that’s compatible with paint thickness gauges has made quality control truly objective for the first time, while reducing errors from missed reading and sloppy transcription. And because quality control apps have the capability to sync in real-time, everyone involved in a project can stay on the same page.

For coatings manufacturers, this means it’s easier for customers to hold our products accountable. Better records make it easier to pinpoint the source of a problem. When you stand behind your products, this is a very good thing.

Let’s talk

In addition to supplying railcar coatings, we’re committed to modernizing the railcar inspection process. Get in touch and let’s discuss how the digital documentation software we provide is improving owners’ inspection experience and holding manufacturers accountable for their products’ performance.

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