HomeTechUK tech firms test rail safety at BCIMO

UK tech firms test rail safety at BCIMO


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Black box technology. Chris Woodhams, Managing Director at Argenta (BCIMO) Image BCIMO

West Midlands software developer Argenta, and Oxfordshire-based partner, Cyth Systems, have been testing their enhancing rail freight safety system. They used facilities at the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation, in Dudley, near Birmingham. The BCIMO test track has allowed the partners to deploy their hardware in a controlled live situation.

Argenta and Cyth’s technology provides a self-generating, wireless power unit, which can be installed on freight rolling stock. When fitted alongside software to monitor systems, the unit can help highlight problems. If necessary, these issues can be addressed in situ, or alert operators to take vehicles in for maintenance before any further issues arise.

High priority on personal safety

Argenta and Cyth have studied injury statistics and say that passenger vehicles pose a higher risk overall. However, personal injuries and even fatalities can be caused by mechanical and technological faults in non-passenger settings, particularly with regard to crew. The BCIMO has given them the opportunity to progress their design concepts. The BCIMO test track was put together to provide exactly this sort of opportunity.

Prototype testing in a live rail situation is made possible for tech companies at the BCIMO

The design partners at Argenta and Cyth place a high priority on personal safety. However, they say the broader economic impact should be factored in as well. Damaged infrastructure, the time and cost incurred by disruption and repair, and even legal implications should all be considered. Furthermore, there is also the likelihood of damage to confidence and reputation.

Reducing freight accidents

Argenta and Cyth Systems are making their first venture into the rail sector. They say that their technology could have a wide variety of applications across the industry as a whole, but it is initially being developed with the aim of reducing accidents encountered by freight rolling stock. “For our project, we needed to acquire data from a train whilst travelling at speed”, said Chris Woodhams, Managing Director at Argenta. “For these requirements, the BCIMO facilities were perfect. The people that we worked with were knowledgeable and really supportive in getting our project activity completed.”

The rail technology building at the BCIMO

The initial 15,000 pounds (17,550 euro) grant funding was secured through the government’s Innovate UK Business Growth scheme. That helped Argenta and Cyth access the facilities at BCIMO to acquire data to support product development. It is still very much grassroots development, but Argenta and Cyth are now analysing the data, and are moving towards designing a range of concepts for the prototype.

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