European Space Agency funds Tended project to improve track worker safety
UK technology company Tended has secured a 1.6 million euro project with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Business Applications for a project on geofencing for rail and track workers’ safety. ESA is funding 50 per cent of the project, which is a collaboration with Siemens Mobility, Story Contracting, RSS Infrastructure, and Morgan Sindall Infrastructure.
Traditional methods of possession management, such as paper-based processes, diagrams, and magnetised markers, are inefficient and prone to error, which can significantly compromise safety and project efficiency, says Tended. Possession planning refers to when a section of track is required to undergo maintenance and trains cannot run on it, so it is handed over by the operators to the engineers, who take “possession” of the track section.
Tended’s product combines geofencing technology, wearables, and behavioural science to enhance worker safety. Through an online dashboard, Tended will provide organisations with a digital representation of their work site. With high-resolution imagery, site managers can safely navigate people and plants around large and complex work sites with multiple lines and hazards. It can position workers with centimetre-level accuracy, says the company. Audible, visual and vibration alerts notify workers if they cross a geofence zone boundary.
The aim is to prevent safety incidents in trackside environments such as the incorrect placement of protection equipment, plant, assets operating in the wrong location, and collisions with moving trains, which can result in near misses and fatalities.
“It’s really exciting to have the backing of the European Space Agency and concerted effort from our partners”, said Leo Scott Smith, CEO and Founder of Tended. “Since 2017, there have been 15 workforce fatalities on the rail network, which have had a truly devastating impact on all involved. These tragedies are what motivate us to keep innovating and develop cutting-edge solutions to help protect people on the railway. Through innovation, we can create safer rail environments and ensure that no one else loses their life on the tracks.”
Over the next 12 months, Tended will work alongside Siemens Mobility, Story Contracting, RSS Infrastructure, and Morgan Sindall Infrastructure to design and pilot the new possession management technology. With the support of the European and UK Space Agencies, Tended will “leverage space-based assets to build on its existing solution and deliver the next stage of their product development”.
“The geofencing technology has been trialled on a number of our projects to ensure our people do not lose situational awareness. Based on the positive results from the trials, we wish to help further develop the products to reduce the risk of plant-related events across our industry”, says Pieter Esbach, Operations Director-Rail from Morgan Sindall Infrastructure.
Jason Fidoe, Technical Manager at RSS Infrastructure of the project, comments: “Our collective aim is to deliver an innovative solution centred around the end-user that is intuitive and simple to use, ensuring that safety remains uncompromised at all times”.