Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TransCore offers new RFID rail products

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Harrisburg, Pa.-based TransCore said Tuesday it has readied “a next generation multiprotocol radio frequency identification (RFID) rail reader, and a field processor unit, the Train Recording Unit (TRU™).”  Both are designed to support the rail market’s transition to updated automatic equipment identification (AEI) technology, used throughout the industry to monitor rail car assets.

TransCore says railroads have been instrumental in driving all aspects of AEI product development since the original design in the early ’90s, including TransCore’s new products announced Tuesday. TransCore says it has a long-standing relationship with railroads around the world, with systems in place in 25 countries.

Says company Executive Vice President Operations George McGraw, “Railroads across North America move more than approximately 1.7 billion tons of freight a year and need the latest technology to enhance visibility and security for shipment tracking and providing chain of custody of shipments. More crucial is that this technology is interoperable with their current investment in AEI technology and can transition to newer technology without rendering the current systems obsolete.”

Transcore says the TRU captures AEI tag data and other data “to report an accurate standing order train consist to railroad management systems. It is the key component used to implement AEI reader systems at main line rail locations in North America. The TRU records detailed information about trains, uses the information to create ‘clean consists,’ and then transmits consist reports to one or more host computer systems. A train clean consist report is a train listing in standing order, where orientation of tagged equipment is provided, location of untagged equipment is provided, and car count is accurate. The TRU accommodates and accurately filters data from normal operating procedures such as changes in speed and direction. It also incorporates intelligence to handle both single and multi-track locations.”

TransCore's Multiprotocol Rail Reader (MPRR) interfaces directly to the TRU wayside AEI controller “to provide a complete railroad AEI reader system to the North American railroads,” Transcore says. ”MPRRsd are quickly and easily installed, tested, and maintained by TransCore personnel. The MPRR is a fully integrated, self-contained 902 to 928 MHz wireless RFID reader that is specifically designed for rail applications. It is a replacement for TransCore’s AI1200 Reader/AR2200 RF module systems, and can read current AAR format and the new SeGo protocol tags. The MPRR provides flexibility by offering a real-time clock; expanded tag read buffering; programmable RF output power; programmable frequency range from 860.00 to 930.00 MHz in 250-kHz programmable frequency steps; and system integrity checking. It employs advanced multiplexing techniques that improve reader performance at higher train speeds when compared to legacy products. In addition, this unique multiplexing mode provides the capability for one reader to manage up to four antennas.”

New features of the Train Recording Unit include the ability to update tags remotely without taking railcars out of service and to replace obsolete and unreliable systems that are no longer manufactured or supported. The technology is said to be more cost-effective, as a single TRU controller can handle train processing on two tracks vs. just one. The TRU is the first to comply with AAR Recommended Practice RP-9203, for improved train reporting accuracy in both single and multi-track environments. It offers accurate handling of high value, specialty cars, is easily updated with new car profiles for accurate standing order train consists, and provides S918A train and maintenance reporting. It offers reduced maintenance costs through automated integrated self diagnostics, automated maintenance reporting, and extensive remote access and support features. The TRU is a networkable device that allows existing sites to be easily upgraded to use today’s network IP communications strategies. Built rugged for high reliability in the rail environment, it complies with AREMA 11.5.1 Class C environmental specifications.