Utah Transit All Aboard with RFID Solution


July 30, 2015 –

The Utah Transit Authority is moving full steam ahead with deployment of an RFID-based automated data collection and asset management solution to track and conduct predictive maintenance on its revenue service vehicles.

The expansion follows a successful pilot project of the technology, which uses passive UHF RFID tags, antenna arrays, readers and software to capture information and generate reports about vehicle and equipment use. Its first phase will include all UTA TRAX light rail cars – a fleet expected to grow to 146 in 2015 – and their components.

Swiftsure’s Bruno Riegl tests read rates of RFID tags on passing UTA rail cars

Systems integrator Swiftsure Group helped UTA implement and manage the pilot, with four light rail cars passing through an RFID read zone at the agency’s Jordan River Service Center maintenance yard in Salt Lake City. Each Siemens S70 light rail car has at least 20 tagged components, from gear and pantograph controller boxes to couplers and traction motors.

RFID gets real for rail         

UTA next wants to tag its 75 commuter-rail vehicles – and up to 35 items on each – as well as its 700 buses and 400 vans. It expects to use about 2,500 tags by the end of this year.

The system enables UTA to conduct maintenance on vehicles and equipment based on actual use instead of preset schedules that unnecessarily remove equipment from revenue service. It also helps UTA meet federal mandates to monitor the condition of and make timely repairs to railcars and equipment components, reducing breakdowns and ensuring efficient, safe operations.

The solution provides UTA a platform to track the health of components by associating life miles, life hours and rebuild history throughout the useful life of equipment. By incorporating this previously unavailable data into its asset management model, UTA can perform asset lifecycle analytics.

RFID on a roll

UTA installed RFID read zones at the entrance to its main railcar service facility so the authority could identify specific vehicles and critical components to track usage cycles. Each zone has a

RFID antenna and reader array at UTA

RFID antenna and reader array at UTA

set of RFID antennas installed on a signal gantry to read roof-mounted equipment, and a set of between-the-rail antennas reading tags on equipment installed on the underside of vehicles. Data collected at each read zone is transmitted to a dedicated UTA server hosting resource management software, which records and links the information to event notification modules. (For more information, read the recent article about the UTA project in RFID Journal.

The pilot showed that passive RFID tags attached to equipment had a 100% read rate as they traveled at 15 mph through the read zone. It also demonstrated that the system boosted accuracy of asset auditing, reduced man hours, lowered labor costs and freed staff for other tasks. In addition, the system lets UTA optimize spare parts stocking by eliminating the need to overstock for unexpected repair and maintenance, and allowing parts to be ordered as needs are anticipated.

About the Swiftsure Group

Since 1998 the Swiftsure Group has provided an independent perspective on planning and implementation of operations process improvement. The company’s RFID and system integration experts combine best practices in inventory, asset and resource management to improve asset lifecycle and inventory management for clients worldwide.