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Rail Technology to be exported

The success of a multi-million Rand contract awarded by Spoornet to Murton System Technologies has prompted the company to market the technology overseas.

The contract called for the design, manufacture and supply of over 200 Telecontrol outstations nationally installed at substations for power reticulation and control purposes. The system had to be compatible with existing hardware in the field, Westinghouse and Siemens. This was done in terms of both protocol compatibility and hardware interchangeability.

Murton System Technologies MD Brent Maurer said the contract was challenging in two respects. "The S500 system had to be designed using the latest technology as well as providing an upgrade path beyond the year 2000 and be downwardly compatible with systems already in the field."

A DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and CODEC (Coder/Decoder) were used to implement the modem function as opposed to purchasing an off-the-shelf modem chip set. "This enabled us to reach both objectives in that the modem was now wholly software controlled.  Code could be written for the modem to implement existing software protocols and therefore be compatible with existing systems.

However, as a 40MHz DSP and full CD specification stereo CODEC were being used the upgrade path was well established for the communications protocol," said Maurer.

"Murton System Technologies has long been a respected designer and manufacturer of electronic products. With the advent of its own Telecontrol system to the local market a number of organizations including municipalities as well as local town councils have expressed a keen interest. This can only be good for the local economy as the traditional suppliers will now be faced with competition for the imported products from a local company," said Maurer.

The equipment has extensive lightning/surge protection to suite local conditions as well as being able to survive the harshest of South African environmental conditions. Production units are comfortable at ambient temperatures of 65 degrees C which is not that common in equivalent imported products.

"The system is as good and better than any equivalent imported product. Particularly of note is the cost of the system which is far below the imported equipment price," noted Maurer.

With full DTI support, Murton System Technologies has displayed the S500 Telecontrol System at an International fair in Slovakia. Much interest has been shown already from Eastern European countries in South African products.

Most local vendors of Telecontrol Systems offer only the outstations. "Murton System Technologies was able to offer both outstation as well as locally developed and designed master control station in conjunction with its sister Company FIMM. This gives the S500 system a huge advantage over other systems in that it can be locally adapted to suite almost any client specific requirement," noted Maurer

As with any equipment used out in the field, energy efficiency was of prime concern as batteries are mostly used for standby power applications. The S500 system uses switched mode, high efficiency power conversion techniques throughout the design as well as employing only the latest low power CMOS circuitry. An entire, fully equipped outstation consumes a mere 20W of power.

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