Tagging for Track Components and Artificial Vision Inventory Systems


Project information

  • Acronym: RFID-AVRIS
  • Tagging for Track Components and Artificial Vision Inventory Systems
  • Project start date: 13/01/2022
  • Project duration: 36 months
  • Project director: Christian Chavanel
  • Project manager: Marcos Conceição
  • Status: ongoing project
  • Project code: 2021/RSF/704

Project description

RFID tagging in Rail is becoming a standard for railway vehicles, applied more and more each day by freight operators in many national cases. The technology is mostly applied for intermodal freight traffic, following the ISO 18000 series and GS1 standards and the corresponding codes, data and identifying features, characteristics. It will be covered also in performance and mounting by the soon to be published EN 17230, providing useful information for location as a passive transponder on the vehicle by identification at reading stations and detectors at the side of the track.

RFID technology for track assets shall provide not only information on the positioning of components in the track but also detailed information of the component itself (type, date of installation, quality testing done by the producer (QM-system), maintenance issues (number of detected failures, number of disturbances since installation), date of change of single components (e.g., S&C frogs), density of traffic). In the near future, the track inspector will go outside on the track with a smart phone or tablet and would be able to receive all necessary asset data from this RFID tag joining it to the information regarding all inspections, repair works, or minor problems detected by sensor systems. It will help to get a better overview on the component performance and how to improve its availability.
RFID has many advantages such as open format, cost-effectiveness, with immediate return on investment in the form of valuable information; smooth rollout; interoperability on all railway networks; weatherproof functional characteristics in the railway environment; electromagnetic compatibility or easy maintenance… These reasons make the tags also very useful to be applied to the infrastructure and track assets. However, this use remains in a very prototypical condition and is not yet standardized.

Systematic definition of frequencies, data structure, code, identifiers, integrity or recommended mounting per component and performance for RFID in infrastructure assets still remain obstacles/obstructions on the way to provide a harmonised approach to its use. Also, data governance and cybersecurity aspects shall be taken into account to protect valuable information.

To identify assets, it’s been also very useful the appliance of automatic visual inventory systems. This monitoring devices carry out processes involving the use of inspection trains with onboard digital video systems with linear cameras, to capture information of the track and its surroundings. An analytical part using pattern recognition tools in real-time and also during post-processing enables in most of the cases not only to identify the asset but also to capture surface defects on it.

This technique can be applied to assets that can be visually recognized/perceived and this not only for plain track components (rail, sleepers, ballast, joints, welds, fishplates…) but also for other assets in other technical subsystems (i.e., catenary masts or cantilevers). About the S&Cs the automatic visual inventory and the inspection of these ones can be performed with this method too, but it is an even more specific part of the surveillance of the track and of its surroundings.

In the future with the help of video inspection systems mounted on vehicles, manual inspection of certain infrastructure assets (track components like sleeper, fastenings…) can be optimized and reduced. This measure will be accompanied by a decrease of track possession time needed to perform activities but also by an increase of defect detection rate. Additionally, failures will be clearly documented and can be found much easier and faster in case of trouble shooting.

With proper development, on defect detection (an aspect that will not be covered yet by this project), there won’t be so much need for track inspectors to move along the track by foot to identify superstructure conditions, thus increasing safety for workers. When substituting manual inspection devices, the inspection time will decrease (e.g., much more turnouts can be measured in a short-term track possession than before) and the shortening of inspection time will increase track availability, and therefore total daily capacity.

Project objectives

The objective of this project proposal is to reinforce and facilitate the current inventory of track assets by:

  • Objective A: Progressing on the proper use of RFID tagging to identify and register infrastructure and track assets, thus becoming fully available and operational for the Railway Operating Community (ROC),
  • Objective B: Providing guidelines of use for Automated Video Railway Inventory Systems which can be used to identify assets but also to assess condition complementarily to visual surface examination.

Project structure

WP1 RFID infrastructure tagging:

  • Benchmarking on the current use of the RFID in infrastructure assets
  • Definition of the ideal RFID tagging solution per asset (position, mounting, passive/active)
  • Definition of frequencies of communication and spectra available, checking electromagnetic and radio compatibility
  • Draft of functional specification for on-board antennas/readers requirements
  • Definition of coding, location and IDs features per component
  • Development of prototype experiences
  • Assessment of performance, lifetime, authentication and security

WP2 Automated Video Railway Inventory Systems (AVRIS):

  • Benchmarking of components to be detected
  • Recommendation of frequencies and speeds of monitoring required
  • Definition of localisation requirements
  • Definition of analysis and post-analysis requirements
  • Drafting of application guide for use

WP3 Guidelines of Use of RFID tagging and AVRIS:

  • Best practices and guidelines of use for RFID tagging
  • Best practices and guidelines for Automated Video Railway Inventory Systems (AVRIS)
  • Drafting of a recommendation for combined guidelines of use and procedures of inventory of track assets

Project members

UIC contact

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  • D1.1 - Benchmarking RFID and definitions for RFID solutions for track assets
  • D1.2 – Functional specifications for RFID and antenna readers
  • D1.3 – Preparations for RFID prototype section testing
  • D2.1 - Benchmarking AVRIS and definitions for AVRIS solutions for track assets
  • D2.2 - Application guide for use for AVRIS
  • D3.1 - Prototype Section Return of Experience (REX)
  • D3.2 Recommendation for combined guidelines of use and procedures of inventory of track assets
  • D3.3 Dissemination Workshop for RFID and AVRIS in Inventory Tasks
  • Future IRS “Inventory Track Assets with RFID and AVRIS”
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Wednesday 6 December 2023