Revolutionizing road safety with Automated Rapid Movable Barriers

Traffic Tech Automated Rapid Movable Barrier
Traffic Tech’s innovative Automated Rapid Movable Barrier, or ARMB, is a fully electric, remotely controlled barrier system. Images © Traffic Tech

Traffic Tech, a prominent name in civil engineering, traffic management, and parking solutions, has gained recognition for its innovation and high-quality products. Based in New South Wales, the company embarked on a mission to enhance the efficiency and safety of movable median barriers, typically used to reroute traffic along motorways and tunnel entrances during accidents or other hazards.

The traditional process for repositioning these barriers is time-consuming and risky, often requiring a person to manually handle the barriers under potentially dangerous conditions. Inspired by hydraulically operated systems, Traffic Tech aimed to create a fully electric and remotely controlled solution that is both resilient and intelligent.

Their Automated Rapid Movable Barrier (ARMB®) is a low-profile solution comprising 3.6m long modules, which form a rigid movable barrier that can extend up to 120m when linked using unique universal coupling joints. This barrier is used to divert traffic from tunnel entrances during accidents or scheduled maintenance.

Traffic Tech teamed up with Schneider Electric to enhance the ARMB’s performance by enabling it to meet the reliability, safety integrity levels, and redundancy requirements of main roads clients. The objective was to create a solution that increases safety for both vehicle occupants and road workers.

RFID technology, Modicon M580 Programmable Logic Control, Altivar 320 Variable Speed Drive, and EcoStruxure Control Expert software were employed to achieve this goal. Telemechanique RFID sensors were installed in the barrier, and the corresponding passive RFID tags were positioned in the road’s surface at each lane divide.

Traffic Tech Automated Rapid Movable Barrier RFID Tech
ARMB utilizes advanced RFID technology and Schneider Electric’s Programmable Logic Controller for precise positioning, ensuring robust road safety.

Once activated, the ARMB moves across the pavement until it encounters a tag, which provides the barrier’s current position to the Schneider Electric Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), and instructs the barrier whether to stop or continue. A redundant set of RFID sensors and tags has been installed to ensure the barrier functions correctly even in the case of a single-point failure.

The system is powered by a Schneider Electric Modicon M580 PLC, which controls the Altivar 320 Variable Speed Drive (VSD) to activate the barrier and move it across the lanes. The VSD is sensitive to additional load, such as when obstacles are blocking its path. In such a case, the drive will halt the motor and alert an operator instead of pushing against the blockage and risking equipment damage. The ARMB can move at a maximum speed of 0.4 m/s under ideal conditions, adjustable according to user requirements.

The PLC and VSD are housed within a control cabinet, or kiosk, positioned roadside on the highway. Underground cabling connects the power source to the barriers, while the VSDs are linked to the PLC using Modbus over TCP/IP protocol. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Control Expert software provides operators in the control center an interface to the solution.

Traffic Tech Automated Rapid Movable Barrier Control Center
Schneider Electric’s software empowers operators with a user-friendly interface, ensuring effective management and control of ARMB systems.

In an incident, an operator activates the barriers and diversion lights, monitoring the process on screens to ensure safe deployment. The ARMB can be moved into position in approximately 30 seconds. The software is configured to send alerts regarding any issues with the PLC or VSD.

Most of the equipment used for the project is rated IP67/68, making it capable of withstanding dust and water immersion. This is particularly important considering the variable nature of roadways and weather conditions.

The project has been a success, and the ARMBs are now installed throughout New South Wales, with more projects in the pipeline. Jim Morris, CEO of Traffic Tech, is rightfully proud of the ARMB solution. He mentioned the excellent support from Schneider Electric throughout the project, citing their prompt response in problem-solving and component integration.

Traffic Tech Automated Rapid Movable Barrier Road Safety
ARMB revolutionizes road safety, offering a remote-controlled, RFID-equipped solution that swiftly responds to emergencies and mitigates traffic hazards.

In conclusion, Traffic Tech’s collaboration with Schneider Electric has led to the creation of an innovative, intelligent solution in traffic management. This revolutionary development in automated movable barriers not only ensures a safer and more efficient traffic flow but also significantly mitigates risks for road workers, thus heralding a new era in traffic safety technology.

Source: Traffic Tech