Obsolescence Management for Commuter Train Monitoring and Diagnostics Systems
Passenger rail transit equipment is designed to provide a service life of twenty-five years or more. It goes without saying that the hardware and software that make up these solutions are developing rapidly. Eventually, obsolescence and compatibility issues make equipment maintenance and the integration of new components more difficult, particularly when computer and networking systems are taken into account.
A major manufacturer of rolling stock teamed up with Cysca as part of a major undertaking to upgrade the monitoring, control, and display systems for the commuter train system of a large American transit authority. Since they are mission-critical systems that ensure the operation, functionality, and safety of the train, upgrades must meet some of the strictest standards around, in terms of both hardware and software.
The question of evolution must be tackled from two angles – hardware and software. When parts are made obsolete or their procurement becomes difficult, replacement parts must function as similarly as possible, in terms of both physical shape and connectivity and the interaction with existing software systems. Conversely, updated software must remain compatible with both older and more recent components.
Limiting the scope of necessary replacements as much as possible is one of the most important aspects of such projects. That involves keeping the same form factor of parts and using the same connectors and mounting points. In terms of software, keeping the same look and feel of previous interfaces makes things easy for users and avoids further training costs.
Of course, documenting configuration and certification management thoroughly is a must when tracking developments, since managing obsolescence is an ongoing process.
Our direct client, the train manufacturer, now has possible alternate solutions available, not only for this particular client, but for any other prior project that uses the same components.
Its own client, the transit authority, is very satisfied, since its various work teams are benefitting from the upgrade: operations are reaping the benefits of technological advances and enhanced equipment maintainability. Spare parts logistics are easier thanks to greater accessibility. The familiar interface requires no training refreshers for train operators and other workers.
Ultimately, the entire population benefits, since the equipment can continue to provide safe, high-quality public transit services for years to come.
Project Services and Industries
Public Transit – Rail