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Hong Kong Rail Company Tracks Components Via RFID

A solution from Hong Kong RFID Ltd. provides visibility into where and when parts, such as brakes, air conditioners or LCD screens, are being serviced, thereby boosting efficiency.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 12, 2013

A railway company that operates passenger and freight trains throughout Hong Kong has boosted the accuracy and efficiency of data capture related to the maintenance of its passenger cars and locomotives, thanks to the use of active RFID tags and readers provided by Hong Kong RFID Ltd. The technology automatically captures components' locations, as well as the servicing each part has received. By knowing this information, the company can better manage its fleet of passenger cars and locomotives, and be sure that all parts are in working order.

To ensure its rolling stock's safety and effectiveness, the rail operator must track the conditions of the components installed on its passenger cars and engines, to verify that they are in good working order. If an item requires repair or is due for maintenance, it is removed from the car or engine and sent to one of the firm's three maintenance centers, also known as depots. Because hundreds of such components are being serviced at each of maintenance center at any given time, tracking those parts and ensuring that they receive the appropriate servicing can be challenging, according to Hong Kong RFID Ltd.

The rail operator has attached Hong Kong RFID Ltd.'s Garrison HKRAT-RT02 active 2.4 GHz tags to about 1,000 pieces of its rail equipment.

For example, a part may be sent to one maintenance center for one type of repair, and then to another depot for additional servicing. For the rail company's management, the only way to track when and where each part was being serviced, and to know when it would be ready for reuse, had been to make telephone calls and conduct regular manual inventory checks of all components stored at each site.

Therefore, says Craig Jo, Hong Kong RFID's business development director, the rail operator contracted with his company in 2012 to provide the tags, as well as fixed and handheld readers, and its Capital Spares Tracking System software, which Hong Kong RFID Ltd. developed specifically for the application. The software collects data from the RFID reads at the three maintenance centers, interprets that information and presents details regarding where parts are in the maintenance process, and when they arrived at that point.

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