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Thinking ahead with HARTING: RFID Improves the Railway Market

Artikel | von Harting Technologiegruppe | 18. Januar 2016
Imagine a train and all its important components (such as the axles of the train and the wagons) will be identified automatically when a train is approaching the maintenance hall. Imagine a train and all its important components (such as the axles of the train and the wagons) will be identified automatically when a train is approaching the maintenance hall. BILD: HARTING

All over the world, every day, hundreds of trains and trams are carrying millions of people and tonnes of goods

This is everyday business! But have you ever had a closer look at such trains? Have you ever spent a minute thinking of how the equipment is maintained, or how the train position and location system works? Something automatic, for sure. But could you imagine that UHF RFID is more and more important improving this everyday business?

Olaf Wilmsmeier, Product Manager Software, HARTING IT Software Development

A train is approaching a train service and maintenance centre. Now the clock is ticking, because a train which is in maintenance is not available for customers, and due to this every hour costs a lot of money. There is no need for further discussion: to make sure that a train or a tram is working reliably and safely, regular maintenance intervals are required and mandatory.

Different Components have different maintenance cycles

The different components of a train have different maintenance cycles, needing maintainence by specialised technicians, and of course the maintenance work has to be scheduled to make sure that the train is available in time for its next journey.

Imagine, to speed up this kind of work, a train and all its important components (such as the axles of the train and the wagons) will be identified automatically when a train is approaching the maintenance hall. Because of this, the maintenance crew knows the train configuration exactly and what kind of work needs to be done. In addition, critical parts can inform the technicians or the train driver if they need to be maintained, based on the information of their actual condition. With these benefits, expensive time could be saved, because the technicians can concentrate on the parts of the train which need really to be maintained.

Olaf WilmsmeierOlaf Wilmsmeier This is not a kind of fiction. With specialised and robust HARTING transponders (IP69K) for instance, different train parts can be uniquely identified. Due to the combination of an excellent knowledge of the railway market and of UHF RFID, individual and specialised solutions can be realized. Reading distances of up to several meters at a train speed of more than 200 km/h can be handled.

Specialised Products for the right application

With specialised antennas in combination with a reliable EN50155 tested UHF reader, the overall RFID system can be adjusted as needed. For instance, with a UHF RFID antenna newly available on the market which is flexible as a coax cable, the creation of reading zones is revolutionized. With this so-called LOCFIELD® antenna, smart shelves can be realized easily and cost effectively. This could help to track spare parts in maintenance centres for instance. But such a RFID system only makes sense if we could build a connection to a backend system like the maintenance database. The combination of identification and information such as related maintenance instructions coming from the backend system is improving the whole maintenance procedure. In the end, you can strip it down to two major points: increasing the maintenance quality while reducing the time which is needed to do the overall maintenance job.

The connection is the key

The question is how to realize such a connectivity between the backend system and the RFID identification? The independent GS1® EPCglobal ® standard ALE 1.1 offers a very flexible, reliable and vendor-independent solution for this. The standard is defining how to manage the RFID raw data handling, and how to build up a hardware- independent interface to backend systems. The HARTING Ha-VIS Middleware is 100% compliant to this independent standard. HARTING is the only European company who is able to offer this kind of certified solution. With this software, several hundreds of reading points can be easily handled and monitored simultaneously.

RFID can help finding power supplies for buses and trams

Let’s hop to another scenario. Modern trams or electronic buses are reducing the pollution in cities and are an environmental friendly way to move from one location to another. But the electronic power supply required by the engine is not available everywhere in the cities. To overcome this special challenge, the vehicles have the ability to charge a battery. If needed, the vehicles can be powered via these batteries. Because of this, the vehicle needs to know if an external power supply is available – to charge the internal batteries and to power up the engine. But how to detect if power cables are available or not?

Once again, UHF RFID helps to solve this challenge. A UHF RFID Reader in combination with an antenna mounted on a tram is able to detect transponders which are fixed e.g. at each station with a power supply. The RFID system is interacting directly with the power control system of the tram. Whenever a transponder is detected, the system knows that an external power supply is available. With this information, the power control system knows whether it has to drive via battery power or if external power is available to recharge the system. As this information is more precise – independent from external conditions like bad weather, dust or fog - the tram or bus can drive through the city more efficiently.

UHF RFID helps to make our environment more comfortable!

These are just two examples. UHF RFID is more and more affecting our everyday live – even if we are not aware of it. The next automation revolution is in process and is getting more and more precise. UHF RFID is one of the enabling technologies for the philosophy of integrated industry. Its capabilities of identification, reprogrammable additional information and combination with external sensors are key features you will need to fulfil these kinds of projects.

HARTING is prepared to overcome new upcoming challenges and is improving its portfolio and service capabilities every day, as well to making our everyday live more comfortable.

Letzte Änderung am Montag, 18 Januar 2016 09:52
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