Officially founded in 1919, Lithuanian Railways is the century-old State-owned railway company of Lithuania. It provides passenger and freight services on a network covering nearly 2 000 km of tracks. Its freight services account for half of all the goods transported within the country. More than 9 000 wagons and 100 stations are used to deliver precious cargoes such as oil, chemicals and automobiles between Belarus and Russia, providing Lithuania with a major source of revenue.
For any railway company, operational safety is the most important issue. Safety of personnel, equipment and cargo must be monitored via video surveillance. However, many locomotives do not have built-in surveillance systems. At the same time, operators require a more modern communication tool. A solution is needed to digitize the workflow with the end goal of enhancing safety and improving efficiency. The solution must be able to withstand the demanding, round-the-clock work environment onboard a freight train speeding cross country on a tight schedule.
In the early 2010s, Lithuanian Railways installed cameras in its trains. However, the cameras were not connected to a display within the cabin, so the operator could not benefit from live video feeds. Footage could only be downloaded from the cameras when the locomotive was sent to the shop for monthly maintenance. This did not fully achieve the goals of enhancing safety or improving efficiency, and so Lithuanian Railways sought out a newer, better solution.
Getac worked closely with Latvia-based partner ELKO Group and Lithuanian system integrator FIMA to create a rugged computing solution that provided real-time video monitoring. FIMA seamlessly combined a video package with Getac F110, the 11.6” fully rugged tablet that runs on the Windows 10 operating system.
For the first phase of the project, 83 locomotives were outfitted with the solution. Four cameras were installed on each locomotive: one on each end, one on the roof, and one in the driver’s compartment. Two vehicle docks were set up in the driver’s compartment, one facing each direction. The F110 is fitted into whichever dock is currently facing the direction the train is traveling. Video feed from the four cameras is transmitted through cables to the docks, and displayed simultaneously on the F110 via split screen, giving the operator complete awareness of the situation around the train.
The Getac F110 was chosen because its powerful Intel® Core™ i7 and i5 vPro™ processors allow it to relay information from all four cameras at the same time. The 11.6” display is large enough to show the video feeds clearly, and the sunlight readable screen enables operators to see the images even under bright daylight. The F110 can be used to write and transmit official documents such as cargo manifests via 4G. Its resistance to water and wide operating temperature range between -21° C and 60° C are crucial features, because the climate near the Baltic Sea is quite humid, and on cold days the temperature inside the cab can drop to -10°C.
The F110 is completely protected against the dust and constant vibration of railroad travel. Its powerful dual batteries have no trouble keeping up with round-the-clock work on busy freight trains, and the fully rugged chassis protects against bumps, drops and spills. Even if accidental damage puts the F110 out of commission, Getac’s ‘bumper-to-bumper’ warranty service guarantees the unit will be returned within days, keeping disruption to operations to a minimum.
The advantage of the new video surveillance system becomes immediately apparent when a locomotive is shunting, also known as switching—the process of connecting many wagons into a complete train, or vice versa. Real-time imaging on the F110 gives the operator much better visibility than was previously possible, ensuring greater work precision and drastically reducing the chance of accidents.
The F110 can transmit footage to the central server via 4G, or it can be detached from the vehicle dock and brought back to the office for quicker uploads. It can also replace pen and paper. Important documents are easily downloaded, completed, and then uploaded again. All in all, productivity is greatly improved by this multifunctional fully rugged tablet.
Lithuanian Railways is satisfied with the results. It sees digitalisation as the optimal way to improve efficiency and safety throughout the railway network. “We wanted to have the newest technology in these trains, so we chose Getac. We want to digitize the process because pen-and-paper is not for us anymore in the modern age,” says Lithuanian Railways chief specialist Grigory Zhukovsky.