COTS Controllers: The Route to Independence

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) controllers are making big waves right across the rail industry. Not only are they keeping integrators safe, they are also giving them independence.
For a long time, integrators have depended on automated safety technology from a handful of large corporations. But in the last few years, expensive offerings from the major players have been facing competition from more cost-efficient products: open commercial off-the-shelf controllers. These products put integrators on track to offer their customers an even more attractive portfolio. 

Demand Is Rising

The concept of standardized safety technology is, in itself, nothing new. So why is it just now starting to become prominent? “In the past, end customers barely contemplated the topic because they had doubts about it,” says Sedat Sezgün, Head of Rail at HIMA. The concern was that safety requirements in the rail industry are extremely high and very specific – so how could standard hardware fulfill them? “HIMA controllers – thanks to SIL 4 certification in accordance with CENELEC – are in fact ideally suited for the rail sector. Now, as the pressure on rail operators increases, more and more of them are considering COTS products, leading to a steep rise in demand.”

Running Safe in the Long Term

Indeed, the pressure is coming from several directions. Passenger numbers are increasing, there is a need to implement digital transformation, and infrastructure must be maintained and modernized. At the same time, safety requirements continue to rise. Operators now want their integrators to provide solutions that are not only cost-efficient and comply with all regulations, but that can also be flexibly configured and used in the long term – without costly upgrades.
With HIMA as their partner, integrators can now offer exactly this kind of solution. As HIMA safety controllers are mass-produced, they are relatively cost-effective and readily available, and replacement parts can be obtained quickly. Moreover, the controllers can be used in a wide range of applications without the need for extensive customization. 

Strengthening Market Position

The integrator retains control of the solution throughout. They sell it under their name and simply fit it with HIMA hardware that can be easily configured using the software supplied. “At HIMA, we help integrators strengthen the market position of their solution and their brand,” says Sezgün. “Our statement is very clear: In the rail sector, we sell controllers, not solutions.”  

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