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Engine Engine Number 9: Unified Communications Increase Railroad Efficiency

April 30, 2015 by

Rail transport has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece. While they might not have been as high-tech as their future counterparts, railroads were still used to bring supplies from one location to another. As the decades go by, the need for more advanced communication between train cars grows. Today's hauling trains can extend for miles, only increasing the necessity for direct contact between cars. Luckily, unified communications solutions can solve this problem.

Interference-Free Communication From Engine to Caboose

While there aren't many employees on each freight train, it's still important to keep the lines of communication open. However, the old standard system was afflicted with low transmission rates and narrow bandwidths, according to Forbes. They could only be used for audio conferencing and low-speed data services. A more reliable, wide-range program was needed to ensure that communication was possible between all parts of the train.

Unified communications, through an enterprise LTE system, increases the contact range while providing more dependable service. High-speed Internet allows for faster transmission of all exchanges, from audio and video conferencing to data sharing, Telecom Ramblings explained. The new system creates secure, seamless communication between crew members, as well as provides a stronger computer program to manage electronic controls throughout the locomotive. The updated structure allows freight trains to increase their loads, creating a more efficient railway system.

"With its low-latency wireless solution for multi-locomotive synchronous control, we have the assurance necessary to increase carriage and loading capacity, which in turn will benefit our return on investment," Cao Yanping, deputy general manager for Shuohuang Railway, which implemented the system, told Forbes.

Improved Conductor-Dispatch Discussion

While a train is on the move, the engineer needs to be able to communicate with those on the ground as well as his crew members. After all, they are the ones who are informing the driver about upcoming stops, other trains in the area, and signaling problems. UC solutions improve contact between everyone involved while giving those in the station an inside view of the train.

Those on the locomotive can share data via the program, as well as through IP telephony, Railway-Technology explained. There is constant communication between crew members and dispatchers, which provides information for maintaining an efficient transport system. Real-time video surveillance also increases safety and allows for those on the ground to monitor the inner and outer workings of the train.

"The broadband trunking platform enables a diversified package of business services in a single network, including dispatching and wireless video transmission for real-time monitoring of the track and checking the cargo drop-off from the carriages - a step that prior to eLTE deployment had to manually (sic), at great risk to operator safety," Yanping said to Forbes.

By implementing UC solutions, rail transport increases communication among train cars as well as between conductors and dispatchers. Not only will this provide for a more productive system, it will also strengthen safety protocols.

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