Cellular Connectivity for Transportation Control Systems

An Opengear Case Study


TMV Controls is a provider of next generation locomotive control systems and has been delivering innovative control systems for railway applications since 2005. Their Traction and Engine Control Unit (TECU) can manage hundreds of digital and analog inputs and outputs for a locomotive. The company wanted to expand the TECU solution by offering Cellular Remote Monitoring service to locomotives, and the Opengear Resilience Gateway product enabled them to achieve their objectives:

  • Deploy serial console access solutions to locomotives to automate the retrieval of data being sent by the TECU
  • Securely transmit that data using cellular connectivity
  • Provide customers with online access to health and location information of their locomotives

The Challenge

The goal was to provide customers immediate access to up-to-date locomotive data, alerts and logs via a secure web-based information hub. TMV needed a flexible but secure method to get the data from the locomotives back to the monitoring server. This required a solution that could:

  • Automate the process of manually gathering the data from each locomotive reducing the time required from hours to minutes
  • Securely transmit critical data on moving locomotives traveling across diverse geographies
  • Provide immediate access to critical data for maintenance and operational staff

Using Opengear’s cellular-enabled console servers has greatly increased TMV’s ability to provide near real-time locomotive monitoring regardless of location.

The Solution

TMV deployed Opengear’s Resilience Gateway product with built-in cellular connectivity to transmit the locomotive operational data and location data. Customers can access their data from anywhere via the TMV secure, web-based central information hub. Previously, technicians had to be dispatched to each locomotive to manually download the data within each TECU – a process that could take several hours.

Isaac Sutherland of TMV explains “Equipment owners and maintenance staff now have online access to data that is just minutes old. Problems can be identified and analyzed as they occur so that remote support staff can provide timely solutions. We at TMV Control Systems appreciate the secure and convenient remote connectivity that Opengear adds to our project.”

With TMV Cellular Remote Monitoring, customers have immediate access to data regardless of the location of the locomotive. Additional benefits include:

  • Improved operational efficiency and reduced downtime
  • Providing equipment managers off-site diagnostics and data analysis
  • GPS enabled tracking equipment
  • Data can be delivered to anyone regardless of where they are located
  • Fault logs keep staff informed about the health of all their equipment
  • Ability to generate reports about the overall health of the fleet
  • Management insight into the overall performance of different types of locomotives
  • Issues affecting locomotives can be recognized earlier, sometimes before operators are aware there is a concern
  • Field service staff also have remote access to remote monitoring data, so any parts can be ordered and brought on site before they visit the locomotive
  • Support staff are able to begin diagnosis and remediation before operators even report the issue

The Results

  • Fleets are now being monitored 24 hours a day
  • Location and operating conditions of locomotives are available regardless of the customer or equipment location
  • Equipment managers now have more data opening new possibilities for off-site diagnostics and data analysis
  • Support staff are able to begin diagnosis and remediation before operators even report the issue.
  • Remote monitoring allows staff to provide fast and seamless support to operators reducing downtime

Locomotive Control Systems

TMV Control Systems designs and produces next generation locomotive control systems. Their Traction and Engine Control Unit (TECU) provides customers with information about the health and location of locomotives. This data helps their customers track the efficiency and overall health of their fleets.