London's underground network will benefit from 30,000 RFID tags - one attached to each escalator step - by the end of 2010. This will reduce the time taken to find a specific step from five hours to 45 minutes. Two escalators in Moorgate, as well as one in Victoria station, have already had an RFID tag glued on to the back of …
Finally a useful application for RFID! Someone with a bit of nous, using a technology in sensible way, to solve a problem. Can't quite get my head around it....
I am truly shocked about his....need a lie down I think...
Now I can get to the platform quicker and stand there longer waiting for the train that will never show..
Isn't this a stupidly elaborate solution to a really simple problem? Can't they just paint one of the steps yellow and count along from that one of something?
I for one...
.. plan to be puzzled by the forthcoming tribe of escalator-step-spotters, each one carrying their portable rfid reader.
But just think if I had an rfid reader in my shoes! The escalator journey tracking info I could automatically collect!
Or paint a number on each one.
Simply painting the step is insufficient since EACH step must be recorded. And these serial numbers MUST be placed away from the general public (lest they be tampered). So the only solution is to put the numbers on the UNDERSIDES where only techs can reach. What RFID allows is for the tech to read the serial number of the thing without having to physically pick up the thing and turn it over, again and again. And data leakage is a non-issue--who's going to care about the unique serial number of the step one is standing upon?
Why would they ever have to log the serial number every step more than once? Do they imagine that someone might sneak in and change one without their knowledge? Log them all once then simply log the changes as steps are replaced or swapped. Give the technicians a cheap laptop and a copy of Excel (or Notepad!) and the problem is solved. Jeez. Some problems don't require a high-tech solution.
A go slow?
Have they only got one team doing it? 300 escalators. At one a night, that's a year. The end of 2010 is 19 months away. Five teams and they could do it by the end of 2009.
Welcome to the real future
Not quite the seamless factory-to-home package level tracking beloved of large retailers.
A limited fixed deployment that delivers actual measurable benefits which are greater than the costs.
A 5:1 reduction in carrying out a tedious, uncomfortable and ( I suspect) potentially dangerous job.
How many more tasks are out there for which RFID is a real potential solution? Of course that will require actual effort on behalf of suppliers. Proper systems integration and decent testing. Not quite the get rich scheme hoped for by some suppliers.
why they even need to know the serial numbers of the steps?
if they are wondering which step to replace - it's the broken one, there i just worked it out even quicker and without waiting for a laptop to boot up!
Finally a RFID solution that found its problem. Now it can be rigourously implemented. Relevance? Eh... this is an IT solution right?
Excuse for a use
So the whole idea of this is so that an "enigneer" (greese monkey with 2.5 GCSEs) can find out which steps are fitted to an escalator. Worse still, someone was paid a lot of money for this "solution".
Here's my solution, but I just patented it first, so you'll have to license it from me:
When you put the steps in, WRITE DOWN THE SERIAL NUMBERS! Then your greese monkey can find out what the serial numbers are in only 5 mins, and without having to do it on overtime!
Admittedly, it will take the aforementioned 3 hours per escalator to populate the lists, but glueing RFIDs to each step probaly takes longer (you still need the 3 hours to get the serial numbers to cross reference to RFIDs) plus there is the cost of the RFIDs and readers.
Why should it take a whole 45 freakin' minutes to complete the RFID tag inventory of a single Escalator -- is this portal-to-portal time or onsite time?
Why not slap a barcode on the bottom of each step, and read 'em all in one circuit of the steps. What would that take -- 5 minutes, tops? And regardless of whether you use RFID or barcode technology, a reader can be permanently installed and queried from the shop over TCP/IP with no truck roll.
Wait a minute -- they're all serial-number-tagged already, right? How about installing a camera to read the existing labels and OCR them. If they work for reading car license plates in conjunction with toll booths, speed cameras and red lights, they should work on an Escalator step license plate, no?
What's next -- installing an accelerometer-equipped transponder in each step to detect bad bearings based on the increased vibration level?