Around the World with COTS – Part 2

In the first article of this two-part series, we began a journey around the world to uncover some of the most successful examples of COTS safety systems. Now we go a little further afield and take a look at some other interesting applications for COTS technology.

COTS controllers are becoming the norm, and many European systems integrators are using them to quickly develop flexible and scalable rail safety solutions. But time to market is another important factor. This brings us to the next destination on our trip: Serbia, where the national railway is reaping the benefits of COTS components. The Serbian company Signalling & Control has used COTS components from HIMA to create its own electronic interlocking solution, and this has proven effective in multiple projects for Železnice Srbije (Serbian Railways). Here, scalability and pre-certification were decisive. Gaining approval for systems poses a huge challenge and involves a great deal of work. Certified COTS products provide a cost-effective and time-saving solution, which is especially important for smaller companies.

Logistics, Right on Schedule

Our next stop: Russia. The potential of logistics as an application for COTS is often underestimated – but not in the world’s largest country. According to experts, industrial railways make up around 50 percent of the total rail market in Russia. Russian rail company AT TRANS created an interlocking solution based on HIMatrix controllers, which not only maximizes safety, but also optimizes train scheduling. The HIMA technology is directly linked to axle counters so they can track the location of trains in real time. In addition to performing all relevant safety functions, the controllers convey valuable information to the company’s logistics management software. This enables AT TRANS to plan its trains much more efficiently.

Flexibility to Meet Highly Specific Requirements

COTS solutions have even established themselves on the other side of the world, as demonstrated by multiple projects in Australia. Rail Control Systems (RCS), an Australian systems integrator, has implemented several solutions based on COTS controllers for level crossings and signaling systems across the country. The key differentiator: flexibility. As function blocks only need to be designed, checked, and approved once, additional customer-specific functions can be added quickly and with no additional cost. This is a huge advantage in a country with complex approval procedures such as Australia.

As we can see, COTS technology is making an impact in many countries around the world. It is helping companies develop rail safety solutions that meet high demands at a fraction of the price of proprietary systems. The COTS journey is only just beginning, and it will be interesting to see where the trend will take us in coming years.