Tecsidel develops eGovernment System for Nicaragua

In collaboration with Centro de Laboratorios y Servicios Industriales de Madrid (CLM) Tecsidel has made an SW application that supports the Metrological Registry of Nicaragua. The SIRMEN is a information system that allows manufacturers, importers, service repair, testing laboratories, conformity agencies and metrological verifications be electronically linked with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Industry.


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Wheel and axle detection techniques

Author: Hector López García

Why should we continue using invasive techniques to detect the number of axles and size of the wheels of a vehicle? The short answer is simply, ‘We shouldn’t!’

The need to count vehicle axles and measure the size of the wheels has become an important feature for a number of traffic statistic applications and automatic vehicle classification (AVC) solutions.

The most common systems for detecting these characteristics are based on sensors installed in the roadway. The asphalt is cut to embed pressure sensors that every vehicle wheel touches. These sensors suffer much degradation and an increasingly lower performance in a relatively short time; more so on roads with heavy traffic. Nevertheless, it is easy to observe on motorways or city ring roads just how many of these sensors are in the roads, indicating their continued popularity.




A further step in wheel and axle detection technology is the integration of optical sensors in the AVC systems. Similar to a ‘laparoscopic intervention’ on the road, the optical sensors are introduced on the lateral side of the road lanes, avoiding a material intrusion on the road surface. Instead of having sensors crossing the road, in this new situation we find light beams, invisible to the human eye.

The benefits of this approach are soon apparent: there is no sensor degradation caused by the passage of the vehicles, so the road can get up-to-date with its periodic maintenance works of rebuilding, fixing or salt spreading without affecting the sensors.

The performance of the pressure sensors also improves as the optical sensors greatly help to eliminate false wheel or axle detection.

With these types of AVCs, a new functionality is provided: the ability to detect the raised axles found on heavy vehicles, such as trucks and big buses. With road pressure sensors, wheels and axles can only be detected when they are touching the ground. It is not possible to deploy systems that detect raised axles only using pressure sensors; other devices need to be added.

Although the weakest point of optical detection technology is traditionally considered its robustness against extreme environmental conditions such as heavy rain and mud, new developments in LEDs and lenses combined with photocell redundancy integration make an overall system more tolerant to all environmental conditions and improve the performance of AVCs. This is particularly true for roads with ice on them; pressure detectors can suffer from the freezing and from contact with salt, whereas the optical detectors perform better.

All of these points have encouraged several road operators to deploy AVC systems equipped with optical sensors, thereby increasing their degree of satisfaction in performance and long-term maintenance. These solutions have been successfully deployed in countries with vastly different weather conditions, such as Mexico, Brazil, Chile, India, Russia and Spain.

An AVC system performs best when it uses optical sensors with customized logic and algorithms for a particular country’s requirements. The technology to do this is available for most of the current AVC traffic applications.


What’s next?

At the moment, optical detectors are a good solution when detecting and counting wheels and axles. However, more wheel and axle features can be extracted if pattern recognition conducted on video cameras is also incorporated. This technology is still immature in the field, as the algorithms that need to recognize wheels and axles in all environmental conditions are not fully developed for each type of application. In any case, there is good progress happening and much more to come from this sector in the future.


Need to know?

Vehicle detection tools have already improved greatly; and there’s much more to come

Automatic detection and classification systems allow the identification of vehicles through the measurement of physical parameters, with no need for human intervention, for the purposes of auditing, revenue collection management, statistics generation, tolling, etc

Tecsidel provides a range of detection and classification systems, including AVC systems with optical sensors

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The next step for tolling: in-built redundancy

Author: Francisco Medina Abellán

The highest aspiration of any toll system is to ensure the detection (and associated payment recovery) of any vehicle moving under its sphere of influence. If, in addition to that, the system reliability and availability achieved is 100%, welcome to the perfect system!

When the goal is to guarantee 100% up-time (availability), it should be approached via the use of stable and well performing software, high-level hardware and what’s known as a ‘fully redundant’ solution.

Multi-lane free-flow (MLFF) tolling is popular because it eliminates the need for toll booths and keeps traffic flowing well, as users do not have to slow down to go through any charging points (CPs). But on the other hand, MLFF has a major disadvantage in the possible reduction of income if the system being deployed is not 100% reliable. In free-flowing traffic, there are no second chances to identify a vehicle.

In a fully redundant solution, every subsystem (detection and classification, OBU reading, video enforcement and system management) is designed to be 100% reliable, via the construction of new algorithms, software architectures and hardware developments.

In its standard configuration, an MLFF system already has sensible redundant aspects within the most critical elements used for recovering information. Why not apply this concept to all components then? Why not consider that a small investment in terms of technology and equipment may be recovered in just a few days of operation?

For a well-known tolling expert, Tecsidel, its modular architecture concept for standard MLFF helped it to find the best technological solution to create a fully redundant MLFF system.

It was obvious to Tecsidel that fully interchangeable equipment at all CPs within a tolling system was critical to achieving reliability.

The company’s main objective is to support the maximum feasible degree of system degradation. It does this in a variety of ways across numerous key parts of an overall system.


How to build in redundancy

Tecsidel has re-designed its electrical rack to power-isolate equipment during any potential power supply disruption or electrical surges.

The company has also built in fault-tolerant network connectivity using an automatically managed dual-balance connection point on every server.

Dual communication (wire as main, wireless as backup) channels between different levels from lanes to the back office is also a key part of Tecsidel’s system.

It is also important to ensure that vehicle detection and classification can still be done even if some detectors fail. Every vehicle not detected equals a loss of revenue. Likewise, for MLFF systems that rely on reading toll tags in vehicles, Tecsidel ensures that all of its OBU-reading technology is dual-concept.

To prevent the loss of images when a video processor fails, all cameras related to one direction of travel are connected to one image acquisition processing (IAP) unit, and additional units are introduced as hot back-up (also known as dynamic back­up) to replace any IAP unit that’s out of service. In addition, each lane features a double camera system (two front-shot and two rear-shot cameras for each lane) and double video switch to guarantee a fully redundant IAP system.

Every CP is equipped with a double fully redundant charging point controller (CPC) that serves as a stand-by module for the primary CPC, since this represents the heart of the toll collection system in terms of roadside equipment. The back­up CPC is the same kind of embedded system as the primary one and is equipped with the same peripherals.

Finally, in Tecsidel’s system, the software is designed and developed to support the hot back-up and load balancing of all subsystems.


Need to know?

System downtime is unacceptable in free­flow tolling, so complete redundancy is a must

>  In free-flow tolling
applications vehicles do
not have to stop at toll
booths, which means
they must be accurately
identified while traveling

- there is simply no margin for error

>  Creating a fully redundant solution involves tailoring software, hardware and the interaction between the two

Dual-concept tools play a key role in building fault-tolerant systems

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Big projects in Brasil in the last trimester!

The Invepar Group VIA 040 Concessionary, located in the province of Minas Gerais, manages the  administration, construction and operation of Ruta BR-040 (one of the longest highways in Brazil with a 936.8 km route). This consortium has recently entrusted to Tecsidel the supply of Hardware, Software, Installation and Integration services of the 119 lanes divided into 11 plazas, all managed by a Central Back Office.

Its second concessionary, Rio Teresópolis (CRT), administrator of BR-116 (142.5km in length and located in the province of Rio de Janeiro), has requested from Tecsidel the installation of all equipment necessary for a 18 lane project, divided into 3 plazas and administered by a Central Office.

The Rodovia do Aço Concessionary, from Acciona Infra-estructuras Group, responsible for the 200.4km highway between routes BR-393/RJ and BR-116 (Via Dutra) has ordered from Tecsidel the installation of 32 lanes divided into 2 plazas, administered by a Central Office.

In all of these projects, the lanes will be equipped with optical + laser non-intrusive vehicle classification. See the technical article Wheel and axle detection techniques.

Responsible for the management of numerous worldwide accounts

Thanks to the gained expertise in the following projects: Tamar UK, Easy Way Perú,  Senac Senegal,  and Ruta 160 Chile Tecsidel has developed its own system known as “MPE”, the Electronic Payment Method Manager, a 100% website platform. This tool is capable not only of handling one or more concessionaires but can also be integrated with other operator companies, resulting in a total integration with several concessionaries at the same time.

Tecsidel MEP comprises a series of functional & indispensable modules which handle over 2 million customers, managing: Configuration (system parameters relating to user and operator access), Services (fees and discounts), Contracts (account registration and maintenance), Transactions (financial management of the concessionaire companies and their invoices), TAGs inventory (follow-up of the TAG life cycle), List (up-to-date lists of approved TAGs).

In addition to the above modules, Tecsidel MEP has a portfolio of specific modules which will: manage collections and payments (post-paid); monitor overdue clients; produce clear and precise reports, share regular financial data with the corporative ERP, manage historical  transactions, and general accounts data.  All this can be implemented by a website platform for both users and corporate customers with specific visualization options available for all information, depending on access category. The platforms effectively enables these modules to interact fluidly with the operator through an online ticket system and phone.

Crossing Bolivia

Tecsidel and Vias Bolivia (State-owned company responsible of the administration and operation of all the toll stations around the country) is installed currently five toll plazas with the Tecsidel Toll Plus solution TT+. These 5 plazas are located in Cochabamba y Santa Cruz regions. This is the first time which is introduced the RFID technology  for toll payment (both prepaid and postpaid) at this country. In both regions will be installed operational control centers which allows centralization of  the toll plazas management and their respective areas.

The agreement with Vías Bolivia has been reached by tecsidel & C&M “Soluciones integrales Bolivia”, a partnership that will deploy the 'Tecsidel' solution i.e implementing latest technologies in toll collection systems with high quality components that will permit swift and economical future upgrades. With this latest endeavour, Tecsidel continues its expansion into Latin America, adding this project to those already deployed in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and México.

Time for Sweden

Tecsidel has been awarded with 'Free Flow Project' in Sundsvall, Sweden. This project consists in the supply, installation and development of two Free-flow gantries in a toll station that will be integrated on the new bridge of E4 highway. The client, Trafikverket (Swedish Transport Administration) has entrusted this project to Tecsidel thanks to its recognition in Free Flow installations. This TurnKey solution fullfills all client requirements and it will be delivered promptly.

Tecsidel expands to Central Asia

The Branch of Innovative Road Solutions in the Republic of Tajikistan has awarded to Tecsidel a contract for the design and supply of a new toll management system, located in Dushanbe – Chanak road which runs through a challenging mountain environment. The new Turnkey Toll+ system will integrate Weight-in-Motion solutions with manual and electronic toll collection systems.
Tecsidel's state-of-the-art solution, wide experience in similar projects and a world proven capacity to provide 24/7 support and maintenance service were decisive in the awarding of this contract.