Industrial Automation

Choosing Industrial Ethernet Switches in Space-starved Transportation Systems

Richard Weatherburn
Demands on public transportation infrastructure continue to grow as cities expand and sprawl into suburbs. This shift ultimately affects capacity needs (i.e., more passengers) and physical needs (i.e., more roads and rails).


To meet these growing demands, a previously innovation-averse industry has shifted into an era of true pioneering. This has been exciting and rewarding to witness.


However, this escalating demand – coupled with growing expectations for safety and reliability – is creating challenges for the transportation industry. This is especially true for choosing the right networking equipment.


Urbanization is spreading, creating new demands on public transportation capacity.


The Future of Public Transportation Networking Infrastructure Relies on Maximizing Limited Space


Finding the space to fit the required networking equipment for public transit features can be difficult. Transportation vehicles only have so much room, and they weren’t designed with these future advancements in mind.


With the majority of applications now running on Ethernet-based networks, the current technology in place faces severe bandwidth stress. The stressors are at an all-time high right now – with no signs of letting-up.


Wherever you look, operators are adding applications to improve passengers’ experiences on many types of transport vehicles, from high speed rail and light rail, to buses and coaches. These applications include advancements such as:


  • Real-time passenger information systems – Passengers are beginning to expect access to information immediately. Real-time passenger information systems let passengers know if a train is delayed and provide immediate revised estimated times of arrival.
  • Ticket-less travel to aid in efficiency – Wireless technology allows seat reservation and ticketing systems to provide passengers with needed travel information on their smart phones. The ability to travel without print tickets makes traveling easier for the passenger and enhances efficiency when boarding.
  • Video surveillance for passenger safety – Video surveillance on-board rail vehicles is becoming more widespread for both operational reasons and to meet passenger expectations for safety and comfort. The increased security also makes employees feel safer, especially when working alone.


While these services are needed, vehicles simply run out of room and cannot house the additional hardware needed to make the applications a reality.

Growing expectations for safety and reliability, coupled with demands for additional applications that push capacity, cause challenges in the transportation industry.


Choose Transportation Technology that Saves Space


The problem is clear, so the solution should be too. Right? Well, it isn’t that simple. Many companies are designing smaller industrial networking products. However, size reduction often impacts the functional and environmental performance of the devices.


The best solution is to strategically choose products that are designed for space savings and functionality. But, how do you know you’re making the right choice?


Here are a few tips for what should you look for in your transportation infrastructure Ethernet networking products:

Capability #1: Reliable and rugged. Find products that are rugged enough to maintain performance without the need for protective cabinets. This means the products can be installed anywhere on a vehicle – whether on rails, at a station or anywhere in between, without occupying large amounts of space for cabinets. Not only that, but reliability and ruggedness can also help minimize downtime. To be used outside of cabinets, these products will need to have undergone extensive testing to prove they can withstand mechanical stress, humidity, dirt, dust, shock and vibrations.  


Capability #2: Easy to install and maintain. Transportation vehicles already come with the challenge of inherent space restrictions, making installation more difficult than it is for other applications. Therefore, products on transportation vehicles should come ready-to-use and be simple to install. Additionally, maintenance-free products are ideal for the transportation sector. Transportation maintenance, particularly on trains, is expensive. With easy installation, vehicles are up and running in no time, reducing downtime, streamlining schedule efficiency and saving money.


Capability #3: Equipped for the future. The best space-saving products are adaptable for use in the future, which is essential in the ever-evolving transportation sector. Highly configurable products can more easily fit your current requirements, while allowing you to increase capacity for additional data and applications as your needs evolve.


Reliable and Space-Saving Transportation Technology is Possible


Belden’s OCTOPUS product line was specifically designed for reliability in rugged settings and meets the highest IP ratings. These managed and unmanaged switches are perfectly suited for the transportation industry, with a small size and extensive benefits, making them easy to install, maintain and adapt for future use.


In fact, the OCTOPUS switch is so reliable it’s even been used in outer space! For years, Belden’s managed OCTOPUS switches have helped with data communication needs at the International Space Station.


To learn more about the evolving technology in the transportation industry, download the white paper available below.


How have you made room for new applications? What challenges have you faced adding new applications to your transportation vehicles? We look forward to hearing from you.

Related Links


Transportation Industry Resources


Belden Products for Transportation Sector