Promoting Transportation Safety

7/11/2013

Transportation safety is on the minds of many this week. In light of plane crashes in San Francisco and Soldotna, Alaska, and a train derailment in Quebec, people are asking questions about how to improve procedures and promote safety. For both air and train travel, M2M technology is providing solutions that help in the fight for maximum protection from disaster.

In an airline emergency, efficiency is of the utmost importance. This was demonstrated during the recent Asiana Airlines crash when passengers and crew had little time to evacuate the plane. In situations like these, making sure safety equipment is properly installed is vital.

William Frick & Co., www.fricknet.com, provides identification products including RFID tags. The company supplies custom tags to Delta Air Lines, www.delta.com, for safety equipment. Delta uses to the SmartMark RFID tags to decrease inspection time and to maintain safety compliance.


Before the tags were in use, Delta employees needed to spend hours manually inspecting safety items to make sure they did not stay in service past their expiration date. Now, tags on equipment like oxygen generators and life vests allow flight attendants to check an entire plane in under a minute, says the company. Various data is also recorded, leading to better record keeping.

David Trebacz, marketing director for William Frick, says, “We’re definitely seeing more interest from the airlines on using RFID to monitor all types of equipment. … Over the past years RFID technology has allowed airlines to significantly improve reliability and processes using the technology. We are consistently getting requests from the airlines for innovative label designs that track all types of equipment like life vests, medical kits, oxygen generators, and other emergency equipment.”

RFID is also helping in the rail industry. Vilant Systems, www.vilant.com, provides RFID information systems for manufacturing and logistics companies. The company’s Rail Solution is designed to automate rail car tracking and rail yard operations. Individual cars are tagged with RFID chips. Reader units are installed at various spots along the railway to read the tags. The train car’s progress is tracked and monitored as it moves, and all of the data is visible in realtime via the Vilant server.

In addition to tracking, the tags can assist in making sure cars are repaired on time. This can cut down on accidents. Safety is also promoted because rail personnel have greater knowledge of trains’ locations at all times, making them aware of any errors.

A solution from Bombardier called TrackSafe, www.smartrailroad.com, has a somewhat different focus. It’s designed to promote track worker safety by providing alerts to oncoming trains. Track inspectors and repair people have dangerous jobs, and TrackSafe helps to keep them alert.

Workers wear a wristband with a tag that is read when they check in at a kiosk. The Control Center knows the worker’s plan for the day and displays relevant information about the section of track they will address. By checking in at various points, the worker creates an Alert Warning Zone. Equipped with LED lights, this zone warns train operators that workers are nearby. Workers receive audible and visual alerts when a train enters the zone, allowing them to get to safety in time.

While no technology can guarantee safety for transportation, M2M solutions are advancing the cause. Train and plane travel may never be accident free, but it can be safer through technology.

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