Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology began appearing on railcars in the mid-1980s. It only took approximately a decade for this technology to become a convenient option to a standard used today in various forms. For a long time, technology was only connected to retail. Now, you can find RFID technology in nearly all facets of life. In particular, the uses for RFID in the transportation sector are skyrocketing, and this technology has made life easier and safer. When it comes to managing railways, RFID technology helps inefficient asset management, increased customer service, reduced human error, and decreased operational costs. The simple and inexpensive addition of RFID technology allows today’s rails to be more dependable than ever.
RFID Railway Management
There are many different applications for RFID technology when it comes to railways. They all can increase productivity and safety for both the rolling stocks and the people in and around each train. Each application gives a deeper understanding of what the rolling stock and other assets have endured during its time on the rails and allows people to understand when it may need to be refurbished or removed from service. Here are some of the most commonly used railway management applications. 
- Laundry monitoring: Provisioning of RFID on blankets for identification and tracking for better management and accountability of linens, thus enabling better customer service.
- Protecting cargo: RFID technology is an efficient method of keeping track of shipment, and a detailed scan can provide access to cargo information such as item type, supplier and consignee details, loading, and unloading data, etc. This can deter product theft and add an extra layer of protection to both the railyard and the rolling stocks themselves.
- Providing safety checks: RFID technology allows for safety checks for people both on and near the rails. This can help track people on the trains while in transport, those working in the railyards, and service people working beside the tracks.
- Real-time updates: One of the best ways to use RFID technology is to provide real-time updates on where people or consignments are and the estimated arrival time. This can keep travelers aware of what time they will reach their destination and employees aware of when the consignments will arrive at their stop.
- Rolling stock monitoring: Tagging individual rolling stocks with RFID tags, the data of each stock like vehicle ID and type, vehicle OEM details, owning railway, user area, and maintenance records of each rolling stock can be tracked and kept up to date. As maintenance is performed, maintenance data of individual stocks can be added to the report quickly and brought up for reference.
- Intelligent yard monitoring: RFID is a critical component of intelligent yard monitoring for online fault detection and monitoring of individual rolling stocks with minimum human interference. RFID reader set-up and fault detection sensors will help correlate critical components, such as fault and abnormality with respective rolling stores, and thus helps in online condition monitoring, reporting for better asset management, and increasing operational efficiency at workshops railways.
Whenever RFID technology is placed into a railway system, it provides greater transparency about what is going on. This offers several benefits to the people using the railways and those managing them. It allows everyone to ensure that each rolling stock is where it should be, holding what it should have and going where needed. The technology helps provide an extra layer of protection for all people involved with this process.
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