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Etteplan designing new light safety device for unattended level crossings

Press release – Published: 26.04.2018 8:47:00

Etteplan and Cautio are collaborating on developing a light safety device for unattended level crossings. The solution aims at reducing level crossing accidents using smart technology. Etteplan has been in charge of the overall development of Cautio’s solution from an idea into a finished product.

Multiple flaws in the current warning system

Current level crossing warning systems are based on track circuits connected to the rails and cables dug underground. When a train passes over a track circuit in the rails, the warning system in the level crossing is activated. At its initial stage, the warning system technology requires major excavation and civil engineering work and cabling. At the same time, electrical connections are made to equipment facilities. Warning systems use a significant amount of very old relay technology which is not cost-effective to repair and maintain. The existing warning system is in use in Finland at around 24 per cent of the country’s level crossings.

Cautio’s light safety device is safe, ecological and cheap to install

Cautio’s light safety device is based on mobile phone network and VHF radio technologies, which constantly relay GPS positioning data on the location of the train from the train’s engine to the cloud. Data on the location of nearby trains is relayed to the warning device at the level crossing. When a train is, for example, 30 seconds from the level crossing, the device is activated and begins flashing an LED light.

The light safety device developed by Etteplan and Cautio meets high safety standards, which is possible due to the use of both the mobile phone network and VHF radio technologies, which back each other up. The two channels ensure that the data is relayed to the pole even if one of the data transfer channels were to stop working. If both radio signals are disrupted, the train driver is informed and can, for example, use the train’s signal horn when approaching the crossing.

In addition to its high level of safety and reliability, the light safety device is quick and easy to install. It does not require external cabling and is fully autonomous of the rails and other railway systems. The light safety device does not require any external source of power; instead it gains its energy from solar panels and a battery pack.

– Etteplan has helped us develop a light safety device for unattended level crossings. Collaborative product development is important to us and Etteplan has provided us with all of the necessary expertise for developing the system. Etteplan understood our needs and was able to quickly and flexibly react to changes and additional needs that came up during the product development process. This made all the difference to the smoothness and flexibility of our product development process and, above all, for the end result, says Cautio’s Managing Director Henri Soininen .

– We are pleased to have been included in developing technology that will significantly improve traffic safety at level crossings. Based on Cautio’s idea, we started developing a solution, where the main goal is to guarantee the system’s safe functioning in all conditions. Another interesting aspect of the project is that we have been able to use existing technologies and our strong expertise in operational safety in an innovative way. The end result is an IoT application that includes a significant amount of device intelligence and safety-critical telecommunication and cloud solutions, says Kari Liuska , Etteplan’s Senior Vice President, Embedded Systems and IoT.

The system has received Trafi’s safety approval and has been piloted successfully at two locations as of 2014.

In Finland, sections of the railway network governed by the Finnish Transport Agency include some 1, 800 unattended level crossings, of a total of 2, 778 level crossings. There are additionally a few hundred unattended level crossings controlled by private parties, such as in factory areas and ports.

Etteplan in brief

Etteplan provides industrial equipment and plant engineering, embedded systems, IoT (Internet of Things), and technical documentation solutions to the world’s leading companies in the manufacturing industry. Our services are geared to improve the competitiveness of our customers' products and engineering processes throughout the product life cycle. The results of Etteplan’s innovative engineering can be seen in numerous industrial solutions and everyday products. In 2017, Etteplan had a turnover of approximately EUR 215 million. The company currently has over 2,800 professionals in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and China. Etteplan's shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd under the ETTE ticker. Cautio in brief Cautio Oy is an innovative and dynamic Finnish company whose mission is to improve safety of unattended level crossings.