Talk with Christian Pucher
Chief Markting Officer at Frauscher Sensor Technology

Efficient Use of Digitalization for New Sensing Solutions .

The ability to harness the full potential of digitalisation requires the willingness to think outside of the box. New approaches can help to update proven and develop new solutions. Christian Pucher, Chief Marketing Officer at Frauscher Sensor Technology explains how his company has implemented this conviction in its philosophy.

Digitalisation has become a frequently used term. Being responsible for these activities in your company – how would you describe this trend?

As an opportunity, that offers potential – which in turn has to be evaluated in detail. Here at Frauscher we do this on the solid base of expertise and with an open mind set. This combination allows for the identification of new approaches, which could be beneficial for our customers. We have done this ever since the foundation of our company. With the trend of digitalisation, the pace of new possibilities arising increases.


So this process of evaluating new ideas is not new for Frauscher?

Frauscher has always been a provider of very specific products. Our wheel sensors, wheel detection systems and axle counters have become essential components of railway applications all over the globe.

Constantly developing these products further has always been a main pillar of our philosophy. We have already enabled a range of innovative possibilities, for example the Frauscher Advanced Counter FAdC, which is equipped with an Ethernet interface.

That enables an integration of this axle counter via open networks. In parallel, our own software protocol, the Frauscher Safe Ethernet FSE protocol, has been developed specifically for the transfer of axle counting data. Of course, it also allows for the transmission of other data as well. What is more, updates of axle counters in the field can be done much more quickly and easily – as can the configuration.

These benefits arise from the will to identify and add capabilities to proven products, which are enabled by new technologies.

“We are convinced that these sensors will keep playing an important role when it comes to the reliable collection of data for various systems.”

Christian Pucher

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, Faucher Sensor Technology

As digitalisation opens up completely new possibilities – do you change your field of expertise?

Our expertise has been and will always be in the field of trackside sensors. We are convinced that these sensors will keep playing an important role when it comes to the reliable collection of data for various systems. However, they must be developed further to keep up with increasing requirements.

Therefore, we also consider technologies and solutions that have not previously been used for railway specific sensing solutions. The Frauscher Tracking Solutions FTS have been developed against that background.

They are based on Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), a technology which is completely new for the railway industry. As this technology allows for the collection of immense amounts of data, we had to increase our competence in dealing with both storing and processing these.

Today, an international team is working on various tasks, such as the development of intelligent algorithms and big data management solutions by using innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence.

This does not change our field of expertise, but it broadens our horizon of how to approach a wider field of requirements.

Does that affect other parts of your portfolio as well?

This is where the importance of networking and communication becomes obvious. New colleagues from various fields come up new ideas that can also be combined with existing products.

One of the latest results of this was the SENSiS system, which was presented at InnoTrans 2018. It consists of a completely new wheel sensor, the SENSiS Detection Point SDP. The concept behind this development was to combine proven capabilities with new possibilities.

They are based on Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), a technology which is completely new for the railway industry. As this technology allows for the collection of immense amounts of data, we had to increase our competence in dealing with both storing and processing these.

This sensor was created on the base of global experience regarding mechanical robustness, electromagnetic interference and more. Additionally, it takes over the digitisation and evaluation of the signal directly on track. Via its digital interface it provides the SENSiS Processing Unit SPU in the indoor electronics with information about train movements, temperature and vibrations.

The bus system, which forms the connection between the SPU and the SDP, enables a transfer of data in both directions. Thereby, software updates for the sensors in the field can be provided from the indoor electronics – without entering hazardous areas. And, there are many ideas for this new product pending, which are enabled by digital possibilities.

For example it is being discussed, whether the sensor could be equipped with other interfaces and send its GPS data to mobile devices, so maintenance teams can easily identify spots where the sensors are mounted.

This does not change our field of expertise, but it broadens our horizon of how to approach a wider field of requirements.

So, any idea can be discussed?

In principle, yes. Valuable inputs can arise in collaborations with development partners, customers or experts from areas which might not be connected to the railway industry at a first glance.

However, although it must be possible to consider any approach, the railway industry’s norms and standards form a certain framework. This has become more open during the last years, but still it is an important factor. To deal with promising inputs and to work on valuable ideas in a most efficient way, we have changed – and are still changing – some structures within our company.

All Frauscher locations are connected more closely, using a state-of-the-art communication infrastructure, which allows for real-time exchange of information. Some departments are working using agile models, such as SCRUM. Experiences from the last two years have shown that the sum of these measures supports our capability to make use of the potential of digitalisation.

Speaking about your locations: Are there markets that are more open for new ideas than others?

From our experience, all markets that we’re active in are interested in using new possibilities. Of course their requirements and focuses vary.

For example, they can be on advanced diagnostic possibilities, on wireless connection of remote areas or on the implementation of completely new applications. Some of these are met by our existing products, and some by new developments. Requirements can also differ from segment to segment. Based on our efforts in developing the FTS further, we also contacted new branches of the industry, which we have not been that familiar with so far.

The maintenance sector is an example for that. Based on the capability of FTS to monitor the condition of assets on tracks and trains, we are developing solutions with maintenance experts to provide them with a set of solutions that increases their efficiency.

Thereby, we are growing stronger in this sector – across a variety markets. It can’t be said that some markets are more open than others. Depending on the solution and requirements, there are possibilities all across the globe – and we’re ready to meet them.