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At the London Underground, RFID Keeps Escalators Moving

To expedite maintenance, each step on every escalator is getting an EPC Gen 2 passive tag.
By Rhea Wessel
Torbjörn Andersson, Confidex's VP of worldwide sales and development, says the company's Ironside tags were chosen because of their durability and ability to withstand an escalator's rugged, industrial and metallic environment. The tags are impact-resistant and built so that the inlays are unable to move around within their casing. Each tag stores specific information regarding the corresponding step, including the name of the manufacturer, the part number, the step type, the year of manufacture, the step ID number and the tag's unique ID number.

Confidex is presently working with escalator manufacturers to enable the tag to be riveted onto the escalator steps when new steps are ordered. To date, the system has been implemented on the steps of two escalators at the Moorgate station, as well as on one escalator at the Victoria station. Two additional escalators at the Victoria station will soon be outfitted as well.

The company that maintains the Underground's escalator declined to be interviewed or identified for this article. According to Andersson, the system's main benefits are improved passenger safety and a more efficient maintenance process. Once all of the steps are tagged, the maintenance company will be able to track which are removed and re-installed elsewhere, and which are out of service more often than others. Such asset-management information can help the firm save time and money.

The maintenance company also declined to reveal how much money it invested in the system, or the return on investment it expects to achieve.

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