Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Wagon tracking project: Rlys may appoint consultant
Keeping track CRIS plans to float tender for pilot project involving 1,000 open wagons. It will be implemented either on Talcher-Paradip route or on Vizag-KK line.
New Delhi , May 23
The Railways is considering appointing a consultant for advising it on the specific standard that should be adopted for its project that envisages using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track wagons.
This is required since the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), which plans to float a tender for implementing a pilot project for wagon tracking system, needs to first decide on the particular RFID technology to be adopted.
The pilot project will involve tracking about 1,000 open wagons. The project would be implemented either on Talcher-Paradip route or on Vizag-KK (Kotthavalasa-Kirandul) line, which is a feeder route for iron ore.
The technology includes a microchip and an antenna. The tag's antenna picks up signals from a reader and then returns the signal, usually with some additional customised information.
"Within RFID, there are several choices of technology standards. There are active and passive RFID tags," said a senior official stressing that the system chosen has to suit Indian conditions.
The Railways would need to select a tag that is not suspect to vandalism, is economically viable and ensures optimal returns on investment.
"The cost of an RFID tag varies between $5 and $45," he said, adding that the tag should be as functional as possible without costs shooting up.
Active tags are equipped with batteries and can be read at distances of 100 feet or more. However, they are usually larger in size and relatively more expensive. They can initiate communications and can have intelligence built into them.
Passive tags, meanwhile, can be read at relatively much shorter distances, though they are usually small in size and are relatively cheaper. They do not contain a battery and usually have a longer life than active tags.
CRIS proposes to have an RFID tag embedded in all wagons, so that the wagon's data can be captured through readers at stations when the train is in motion and through hand-held devices at stationary locations.
The data can then be fed into the Railways' Freight Operating Information System to help track wagons accurately and on a real time basis.
RFID tags attached to the rolling stock can provide accurate in-transit information about its fleet of equipment, resulting in improved tracking and in reduced manual errors.
Freight customers of Railways can also track the movement of their consignment and plan their inventory management accordingly.
If the pilot project, for which Rs 2 crore has been sanctioned, is successful, the scheme will be implemented on a much larger scale.
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