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Ultra-wideband Brings Security to Grand Paris Express

Approximately 400 workers are wearing Litum IoT UWB RFID tags to transmit their locations to underground receivers so that FS Tunnel software can identify where they are, while UWB emergency sensors enable personnel in tunnels to signal for help.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 24, 2019

Paris Metro is tracking the security of hundreds of construction workers in tunnels as it expands its underground rail line. The current tunnel project was launched in March 2018, with another phase beginning in March of this year.

The safety system that accompanies the construction project consists of UWB RFID-based sensors worn by personnel, which are read by a network of receivers, as well as sensors mounted throughout the tunnel for emergency reporting. The solution is provided by FS Tunnel, using UWB RFID technology from Litum IoT.

Paris Metro is tracking hundreds of construction workers in its underground tunnels.
The project, known as the Grand Paris Express, commenced in 2017, is overseen by public enterprise Société du Grand Paris and consists of multiple new rapid-transit lines in the Paris region. The latest rail line comprises five stretches of tunnel, totaling 33 kilometers (20 miles) of tunnel; it requires approximately 400 workers and relies on equipment such as a tunnel boring machine (TBM) to drill out the tunnel. UWB technology is being used on three stretches.

The organization sought a system that would ensure worker safety throughout the multi-year project. The project had to meet strict safety regulations related to ensuring only authorized workers were in restricted areas, and to tracking the real-time locations and activities of workers to ensure they followed directions and avoided unsafe behaviors. Additionally, the group needed the system to minimize collision risks between employees and the TBM, as well as equipment moving on rails.

As employees move around underground, anchors mounted on tunnel walls capture their tag transmissions.
Litum designs and manufactures the technology provided by FS Tunnel, including the RTLS UWB "anchors [readers], tags, firmware and software," says Alp Ulku, Lıtum IoT's director of business development. FS Tunnel, meanwhile, is a specialist supplier of construction equipment for tunneling projects. "We provide tunnel cabinets [for alarms, communications and power supplies], LED lighting, telephone systems and steel pipes," explains Erik Merkez, FS Tunnel's CEO.

When it comes to an RFID deployment, Merkez says, the company not only sells the solution but also provides installation and ongoing support. For the Paris Metro safety implementation, he adds, tags were provided for all workers. In the tunnel itself, FS Tunnel installed 48 anchors (readers) that capture transmissions from the badges. Each anchor has a read distance of 150 meters (492 feet) aboveground, Ulku says, and about 100 meters (328 feet) in the tunnels.

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