RailDocs for GE

Think about how to manage the risk of moving trains from causing harm to the general public, now think compliance. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) holds railroads and individuals personally liable for the oversight of millions and millions of assets across the United States. These assets consist of the equipment and mechanisms that control railroad crossings, signals, and switches. They need to be regularly tested, maintained and configured to the standards set by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

GE previously developed RailDocs as solution for railroad maintainers and inspectors to track assets, their statuses, and return that information to the FRA with the documentation required. However, increasing availability of mobile devices and the aging system forced a change in RailDocs platform.

RailDocs adopted Predix GO’s asset management capabilities to facilitate federal compliance of railroad assets and their attributes. The first module to overhaul was CMS, Configuration Management System. It was developed to validate configurations composed of a variety of assets as functional systems.

By observing how the inspectors and maintainers at different railroads completed work, our assumptions of how they used RailDocs became apparent. RailDocs as an entire system lacked ease of use. The expected documentation methods were misinterpreted, maintainers and inspectors, in fact, still used paper to record values then enter the data within RailDocs away from the site.

This feedback from maintainers and inspectors made it clear that the product as whole needed to overcome usability issues with the hope to change their behavior. To do just that, I created an information architecture to simplify the relationships between locations and configurations, parent child components and the required data for each asset within Predix Go’s UI.

To test this IA, I developed a quick usability test which walked a maintainer or inspector through various tasks to validate or de-validate the IA based on their completion. The tests validated the IA with some minor but expected changes to the UI. This same process will be used to gather feedback for the remaining RailDocs modules.

Prototype walkthrough, recommended viewing on a full screen. Please note the site player washes out some of the contrast.

User Experience Design
Information Architecture
Interaction Design
User Interface Design
Usability Testing