Product innovation, safety and liability

Ansaldo STS has always devoted ongoing attention to research and development, in order to identify and create innovative technical solutions and develop products of the very highest quality to operate internationally in markets that are undergoing rapid technological evolution.

Ansaldo STS’ innovation governance model involves all its companies and combines strategies, technologies, products, resources and markets so that research and development arises out of the excellent, distinctive expertise found within the company and the needs of its customers.

Main products conceived and undergoing development

Over the years, Ansaldo STS has conceived and developed products that have pushed it to a leadership position in the Signalling Systems and Railway and Urban Rail Transportation Sectors.

OTP - Optimizing Traffic Planner™
OTP is an innovative traffic management and railway handling system that redirects traffic in real time to increase speed and optimise vehicle movement, identifying the shortest and most efficient paths for trains. The OTP system can substantially increase network capacity, reducing operating costs at the same time. 

ATC (Automatic Train Control) and ATP (Automatic Train Protection) systems
These are automatic train speed control systems in line with ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) standards. They enable operators to control the safe movement of trains on railway lines, while continuously monitoring their position, maintaining safe distances and compliance with speed limits. The ATC system also includes a driverless function with various degrees of automation.

CBTC – Communication-Based Train Control
CBTC is a two-directional, radio-based train distancing communications system between land and train. It is in line with international standards (IEEE 1474.1.2.3) and offers the utmost operating flexibility, complete interoperability on metro lines managed by different systems/technology operators. 

The control systems installed on board find the vehicle’s position and adjust vehicle movement within the authorised limits (MAL = Movement Authority Limit). Each vehicle’s position is updated and reported continuously to the Area Controller on land. The Area Controller can update each vehicle’s MAL, knowing the position of the previous vehicle going in the same direction. This tool makes it possible to set a “mobile block”, which safely and significantly shortens the amount of time between two consecutive trains on the same platform, increasing the transportation system’s overall capacity. Communications between the control systems located in an adjacent area where the vehicles are sorted and on board the vehicles, makes it possible to safely manage time between vehicles and line capacity.

Ansaldo STS has already installed and fully rolled out this technology on the Paris metro line 3 and, in China, on lines 1 and 2 of the Chengdu metro and on line 1 on the Zhengzhou metro. It is currently designing and, in some cases, installing this technology on projects including the Ankara metro, the Stockholm metro’s Red Line, the Taipei metro’s Circular Line, the Milan metro’s Line 4, the Copenhagen metro’s CityRingen and the Riyadh metro (the last two will be driverless), along with another six metro lines in China, in the cities of Shenyang, X’ian, HangZhou and Dalian.

Wayside platform
Since the late nineties, Ansaldo STS has implemented requirements for a platform open to standard protocols, including on the following lines: TVM Lyon-Marseilles (1999), ERTMS Rome-Naples (2005), Turin-Milan (2006), Milan-Bologna (2008), Zheng-Xi (2010), Madrid-Lleida (2011), Cambrian (2011), Poříčany-Kolin (2011), Haparandabanan (2013), the CBTC lines in Chengdu (2011), Shenyang (2012), the Ankara metro (2014) and the conventional Turin-Padu lines (2014).

Ansaldo STS has implemented the interlocking system known as WSP (Wayside Standard Platform), which is capable of managing a greater number of terminal operations and train connections using a smaller number of basic parts and integrating safety, diagnostics and traffic management functions in one central control station, poised to become the best response to the increasingly sophisticated demands of the railway and metro market.

This is a power system for trams that run on ground lines, powered only in a specific segment under the vehicle. 

The system promotes the protection of historic city centres, as it eliminates conventional overhead electric lines.

The concept behind this innovative tram system and the excellent results achieved in the wake of testing have generated enormous interest among urban planners in countries looking for safe, ecological and low-environmental impact public transit solutions. In November 2013, a contract was signed with the Chinese company CNR Z for the supply of 17 km of TramWave® lines to build a new tram system in the city of Zhuhai in southeast China. The contract also provides for the installation of the related systems for the reception, diagnostics and power. This contract has made it possible for Ansaldo STS to build the first catenary free tramway and begin the technology transfer process.

Satellite signalling
For the first time in railway history, Ansaldo STS has used satellites to manage safe train travel. In March 2012, Ansaldo STS signed the 3InSat contract with ESA (European Space Agency) to develop and validate new safe geo-localisation and satellite telecommunications platforms to be used for ERTMS-ETCS railway signalling systems. Ansaldo STS is the head of an industrial consortium that includes the participation of, inter alia, RFI and DLR (Germany’s space agency), which, together with ASI (Italy’s space agency) are the greatest contributors to the European satellite localisation system, GALILEO.

Ansaldo STS’ solution constitutes a technological innovation of global importance. It will use geo-localisation satellite technology instead of conventional train localisation systems, which require electronic devices installed along the railway line, thereby reducing costs and environmental impact.

Products and solutions safety and environmental friendliness

Ansaldo STS’ unwavering commitment to providing its customers and end users (passengers and freight) with the best products and system solutions, the use of the best design methodologies and procedures and the best existing construction methods and processes contributes to increasing safety and reducing direct and indirect impact on the environment.

Reducing energy consumption
Two important innovations introduced by Ansaldo STS in signalling systems for train control relate to the use of public telecommunications networks and GPS - Global Positioning Satellite - technology. The use of these new control systems replaces track equipment, which required greater energy consumption. These systems will be especially used on low-traffic lines in Europe, which make up about 50% of the total network length. The use of public telecommunications networks will reduce energy consumption by roughly 72 KW per day per km, while the introduction of GPS technologies will entail savings of 5 KW per day per km. Based on these estimates, total COsavings will be approximately 60 kg per day per km on the line.

Reducing raw materials consumption
The use of powerful technological platforms integrating several functions in the same subsystem enable Ansaldo STS to reduce the size of equipment and their connectors, using simple and effective systems for scheduling, testing and roll-out.

In addition, the search for increasingly standardised design associates innovation with reduced use of parts.

Partly in response to certain new contracts (the MPM-10 train control system project in Montreal), Ansaldo STS is paying greater attention to studying ecodesign aspects, including to meet customers’ environmental standards, such as:

  • Analysis of conformity with REACH – Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (an integrated registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction system for chemicals established in the EU);
  • Analysis of the re-usability and recyclability of materials;
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)8.

The methodological approach entails a comparison of processes, materials and products in order to evaluate whether choices are ecologically compatible. The design stage, along with an analysis of costs and quality level, makes it possible to identify critical points in the life cycle. The analysis process is carried out using software and considering the applicable legislative requirements and UNI ISO 14040 standards.

LED technology
For the past few years, Ansaldo STS has been producing LED-based traffic lights at the Tito Scalo and Batesburg sites. This innovation has a positive impact on energy consumption, the management of maintenance and the disposal of maintenance material.

Reliable and efficient hourly traffic
The tools that Ansaldo STS has designed and produced enable operators to create more efficient timetables for trains running on railway infrastructures, establishing, in particular, which places are the best for stops, junctions and passing, and determining travel times to minimise waiting times and fuel consumption. These tools make it possible to prevent and supply pro-active measures to combat traffic caused by train delays, scheduled and non-scheduled maintenance, natural disasters and personnel shifts. This support technology is also used to significantly cut down on fuel by increasing the average speed of trains, concurrently reducing the waste of fuel for acceleration closely followed by braking due to temporary slowdowns or signals to stop.

Reliability of solutions
The reliability of solutions is also due to the use of redundant platforms that provide fault tolerant configurations, i.e., those that can continue to function even when certain sections present faults. This type of approach was successfully applied in Italian high speed railways, where specific systems have been developed for the diagnostics and control of electrical substations. These tools make it possible to plan “preventive maintenance” on lines, i.e., to monitor all substations and report when one of them is at risk of faults. In this way, greater environmental sustainability is assured, with the resulting reduced consumption of spare parts and lower risk of service interruptions on the line due to faults.

Safer spaces for customers and end users
Ansaldo STS offers passengers safe and controlled areas by equipping network vehicles with sensors that constantly monitor railway areas, and operate around the clock. 

Product liability
Ansaldo STS has implemented RAMS activities to ensure that the products, applications and systems that it develops and delivers are:

  • safe, in accordance with domestic and international standards applicable to railway systems;
  • reliable, in accordance with customers’ requirements and its own internal quality standards.

These activities are performed on all Ansaldo STS projects in which safety and reliability are relevant, which constitute over 90% of total company activities.

Safety and reliability are achieved through hazard analysis, a structured process in line with sector standards. It begins with the identification of hazards based on previous experience, the assessment of specifications for the process stages and hazard workshops during which experts from Ansaldo STS and customers discuss the various issues. Potential hazards are then included in a hazard log, which is constantly updated during the life cycle of the project. For each hazard mapped, the log also includes the mitigation measures, activities to check that they were effectively implemented and an assessment of the residual hazard. The residual hazard level is assessed and accepted only if it is below the limits established by standards and customer requirements. 

The main safety standards are those issued by CENELEC - European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation. Specifically, relevant standards are:

  • CEI 50126 on RAMS applicable to rail transportation;
  • CEI 50128 on software security;
  • CEI 50129 on electronic device safety;
  • CEI 50159 on railway communications security.

Recording and assessment of non-conformances and accidents to improve safety Any non-conformances with safety specifications during the development, testing and roll-out, is carefully analysed and recorded. In general, no conduct of this type is tolerated and requires a review and change (hardware or software) in the element that does not meet the technical specifications provided for.

In general, Ansaldo STS gathers two types of data to assess the reliability of its products: data on parts (fault charts), beginning with the assistance requests sent to the Service unit and data on systems affecting the key service parameters (frequency of trains, skipped runs, delays, etc.). Data on parts are analysed to identify the most defective parts and alternative solutions are sought to improve performance, while for data on systems, the delay logs are analysed to determine the causes.

Investments in research and development and intellectual property rights

In 2013, total expenditure for research and development by the Signalling and Transportation Solutions business units was Euro 34.8 million (31 December 2012: Euro 35.3 million), with income generated from grants and services of approximately Euro 2.8 million (2012: Euro 3.0 million).

Ansaldo STS carefully safeguards its intellectual property, requiring, inter alia, the filing of patents and the registration of trademarks. At year end, it held 76 patents and 43 registered trademarks. It has filed applications for an additional 19 patents which are currently under evaluation.

8. Life Cycle Assessment (“LCA”) is a methodology that evaluates a series of interactions that a product or service has with the environment, considering its entire life cycle, which includes pre-production (including the extraction and production of materials), production, distribution, use (including reuse and maintenance), recycling and final disposal. The LCA procedure is standardised at international level by ISO 14040 and 14044 (International Organization for Standardization).