|2012 - July - Blaauboer - SIL 4 Interlocking based on COTS hardware|
Michiel Blaauboer MSc Technical Manager
Nowadays, the majority of proprietary electronic interlocking systems are built with dedicated hardware. The interlocking industry is a relatively small market compared to other fields of industry; innovation is expensive, and therefore sometimes 'slow'. Besides that, after installation the manufacturer must be contracted for maintenance and especially alterations, creating a 'vendor lock'. The Movares Eurolocking system has the goal to eliminate these issues by using standard PLC's (commonly used in the process industry).
Eurolocking is a SIL 4 PLC interlocking completely based on Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) hardware components. Any (SIL 4) PLC can be used in this concept to engineer an open system. Only the logic inside the system is dedicated to the railway environment.
The (COTS) components are applied worldwide in many industries. The scale of quantity for these components is bigger than the one for dedicated interlocking hardware. As a result this has an effect on the final price and R&D is going at a faster pace. Another improvement is the decoupling of hardware and engineering. In principle the application is based on open code.
As modern PLC's support many open interfaces, modules can be created to directly interface with a wide range of other systems. However, the use of dedicated protocols is still possible.