Smart technology for critical national infrastructure
ADComms specialises in providing end-to-end technology based systems integration services across a range of sectors with a focus on transportation and critical national infrastructure utilising fixed and mobile network systems. With extensive experience across these markets, it has demonstrated an ability to provide innovative engineering solutions backed by commitment, quality and value to deliver world-class solutions

There is a perpetual move towards the digitalisation of many traditional systems within the industry, utilising IP networks to transport and deliver the data. This enables a wider use of the data to achieve more efficiency, capacity, reliability and potentially improving safety. Big Data, IoT, M2M brings potential advantages to the industry utilising a network of sensors and data analytics to deliver valuable information to improve reliability and operations.

This digital revolution is at the core of ADComms capabilities, integrating legacy systems and enabling new applications to be delivered using a mix of fixed and mobile communications infrastructure across the rail sector. ADComms has a successful track record of delivering mission critical communications solutions for Network Rail, including the FTN/GSM-R and FTNx projects. Its committed, experienced team of field and project engineers carry out significant trackside installation and maintenance works on a daily basis, and takes pride in its excellent operational and safety record as a principle contractor.

As of June 2016 ADComms was acquired by Panasonic. Both companies have been engaged on addressing marked challenges for new technology implementations for some time, and have a strong collaborative approach to addressing the customer challenges across the rail sector. This new partnership will enable ADComms to take its business to the next level, something that Managing Director, Jason Pearce, discussed in more detail: “We will continue to trade as a separate business, wholly owned by Panasonic. This means we will retain our independence on both equipment and technology, but will gain access to the huge research and development capabilities at Panasonic – they have been in the top ten global companies for R&D spending over last 15 years, which is a real benefit as there is so much innovation needed in the transportation and rail sectors. On another key aspect it better enables us to scale, meaning we can take on bigger projects.” With such a positive and valuable relationship between ADComms and Panasonic, it will help ADComms advance even further in the future; the company will no doubt be positioned at the centre of the evolving rail sector.

ADComms and Panasonic have already started combining skills and expertise on a recent project for Network Rail, jointly developing a hybrid off grid power solution using the Panasonic range of Lithium-Ion batteries and solar panels. The hybrid power solution integrates renewable energy sources in the way of Solar panels, combined with energy storage and traditional generator back up, delivering a high availability site solution for a safety critical system, while reducing the need to visit the site on a regular basis for expensive refuelling activity. This innovative solution has been deployed on a trial basis in the North East of England. To support the critical nature of the site ADComms ensures all elements of the solution are monitored and remotely managed back to a network operations centre. The site has been designed for a single yearly maintenance and refuelling visit while still providing 99.999 per cent availability.

The railways are a core part of the UK critical national infrastructure delivering people and products that enable UK PLC to operate. The rail infrastructure is heavily relied upon to deliver this on time all the time and any delay or cancellation can cause great inconvenience and problems if not properly communicated. The solution to this will no doubt be related to the development of systems to monitor all aspects of trains, as was expanded on by Mark Weller, Business Development Director for ADComms: “An area which we are focused on with Panasonic is developing intelligent asset management which incorporates remote condition monitoring systems along with data analytics to provide real time insights to the status of critical systems and components. These assets effectively generate terabits of data and information on the rolling stock asset, which can be used for the asset owner or the consumer. Data analytics offers the ability to predict failure events, which can be actioned prior to failure improving the operation of the network, while passenger flow, and counting can improve the passenger experience through the station on board directing you to available seats during periods of congestion.”

Another issue that ADComms is addressing on the railways, is that of trespassing, something that is a constant nuisance and danger and risk to life. The company has been utilising leading edge CCTV analytics solutions to identify unauthorised access to core infrastructure. Steve Harris, Director for ADComms, elaborated on the solution: “We have been working closely with Panasonic on smart CCTV at Durham station taking an advanced CCTV analytics solution and marking areas where any unauthorised access needs to be alarmed and notified through an automated system.

“We are working to create a reliable system to automate the identification of events which have the potential to affect the safety and reliability of the rail network through trespass while minimising false alarm triggers to the satisfaction of Network Rail. This enables more cameras to be utilised across a wider section of the network to improve detection. ADComms is developing a system that can perform an intelligent analysis so that if there is a problem it can signal an alert to the human operator to look at the specific event. The system is intelligently processing images from many cameras and identifying whether those images should be looked at more closely by the human operator. We are creating a smart way of identifying issues.” This will have clear benefits for many sectors across the world, where a discrepancy can be detected by the system and brought to the attention of the operator, potentially removing the chance of something being missed.

ADComms has built a reputation working on theLondon Underground, and the systems it provides can help to increase capacity, improve reliability, and protect safety. Jason highlighted one aspect that the company has already worked on: “Our London Underground business is heavily focused on designing and installing CCTV systems at stations which allow the driver to see if the doors have closed correctly, that there aren’t people or objects trapped in closed doors, or still trying to get on the train. A key focus for Panasonic is taking the analytics solutions to improve the reliability and safety related to issues of this type, making the system smart.” ADComms is developing this technology that will no doubt shape the future of rail industry improving safety and reliability, as well as many other sectors. It will enable useful information to be separated from the vast amounts of captured data providing the right information to the right place at the right time, the benefits of which could be extensive.

Within the ADComms Group, Rail Order, has expanded from its traditional supply & logistics offering, to building on core technology strengths of the group to bring innovative products for the rolling stock businesses. Rob Illsley, Managing Director for Rail Order, states that: “Rail Order’s Darwin fed Real-Time on train Passenger Information Systems have now been successfully deployed with a number of Train Operating Companies. With a vision of the intelligent train combining – high speed data offload, onboard reliable WiFi systems, onboard infotainment, and improved travel experience, and data analytics on train performance have been well received by passengers and train operating companies. Other enhancements including improved carriage air quality, and USB Seat charging points have been well received. As a Panasonic Company, we benefit from the latest CCTV security technologies which lend themselves well to safety systems, forward facing and internal style camera solutions.”

The future for ADComms seems stronger than ever, not only is it a successful business providing technology solutions to long held problems in the rail industry, it now has the resources and investment by one of the world’s leading and most trusted brands to bring improvements to the industry. Its future will be that of continuing innovative advancements as well as offering maintenance and upgrades to existing systems. The positivity and ambition at ADComms is palpable, all of which points to a growing business with an expanding client list.