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ZTR Control Systems Perspective: Industrial Internet of Things, system integration and more

By Viktor Gvelesiani, director of product development

The fast approaching deadline for PTC implementation has everyone feeling the stress. Implementation is not just another incremental change in the technology of a modern locomotive. All locomotives operating on the property of other railroads have to seamlessly integrate into, and work with, other PTC systems, whether they are mixed in the same context with locomotives from other railways or not.

The only solution to these challenges is the implementation and integration of advanced new technology with a partner who has experience in integration, Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and system engineering design. ZTR has a 27-plus year history of providing just what the industry needs for today and beyond.

Although Locomotive Electronic Systems Architecture (LESA) specifies the building blocks of the architecture, it also allows for localized adaptations, such as the integration of some of the functionality of one block into another block. This allows railroads to deploy this common architecture while re-using as many pieces of their existing electronics as possible. While beneficial in flexibility and implementation to the railways, this strategy could also bring additional hurdles for technology manufacturers, as they will need to design systems that can be functionally and physically scaled to the specific implementation.

The ZTR Locomotive Interface Gateway (LIG) can be deployed as a stand-alone unit, fully compatible with other standard hardware and software elements specified in the LESA. The ZTR LIG effortlessly collects, translates and distributes data from the NEXSYS™ III-i control system to the PTC network in accordance with the American Association of Railroads (AAR) standard. It broadcasts faults to the PTC system to help ensure critical safety management. The ZTR expert engineering team is consistently looking for ways to collect from more data points in the architecture.

The ZTR Ancillary Card Cage is designed to meet the AAR S-9365 standard, but also to allow other manufacturers to add their hardware and software modules to the system. Understanding that other manufacturers may not be developing their software for the same operating system, ZTR architecture allows multiple operating systems and multiple CPUs in the system, to operate and seamlessly exchange information in practically real-time. As a stand-alone device, it has additional ports to ensure that customers have future expandability options to meet the challenging, and potentially changing, PTC requirements.

ZTR can assist in PTC compliance now and can ready fleets for future regulation requirements.