Last month the NEC in Birmingham was host to the 13th iteration of Railtex, the largest rail exhibition in the UK, with well over 400 exhibitors from across the globe and from every aspect of the industry in attendance. With such expansive coverage of the latest technologies and ideas, Railtex can offer the perfect opportunity to identify current trends and areas of interest.
The most noticeable topic of interest at this year’s event was the numerous applications of the Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) systems, with multiple companies demonstrating their capabilities in this field. RCM systems, traditionally, are used to determine the condition of infrastructure and as a result pre-emptively identify point of potential failure, however in recent years additional applications in passenger and public protection have been realised.
With the demand for rail services in the UK growing at a rapid pace, and traditional solutions (such as the addition of new tracks and platforms) being exceedingly expensive and disruptive, industry and government bodies have developed the Digital Railway initiative to increase the capacity of trains able to safely run on the network. In order to do this the plan is to bring together systems such as, European Train Control, Connected Driver Advisory, Automatic Train Operation and Traffic management, in order to automate and smooth the flow of all rail traffic.
And finally what would an article on industry trends be without mentioning the number one buzzword of the moment ‘the Internet of Things’. As legacy infrastructure is gradually being replaced by Train Management Systems (TMS), and wireless condition monitoring systems are installed, trains have essentially become interconnected communication hubs transmitting data between themselves and to network centres. With this level of interconnectivity it is no surprise that there are a significant number of companies investigating IoT solutions.
Here at Zircon we have had the opportunity to work with each of these technologies on various applications, ranging from track circuit and bridge monitoring systems through to mainline and metro control systems. Those of you who were able to pay a visit to our stand at Railtex this year would have seen scaled down demonstrations of some of the machine vision and monitoring system technologies we have worked with and hope to continue to develop over the forth coming years.