Rail transportation is a fundamental part of our economic vitality.
Utilizing a variety of rolling stock and infrastructure—ranging from the comparatively older to the ultra modern, the Rail Industry serves a broad range of needs and continues to meet the growing demands on our transportation networks.
Whether freight or commuter trains, underground or high-speed and inter-city rail, modern rail systems incorporate an ever-increasing amount of electronics. Indeed, rail equipment lifecycles surpass the common life span of embedded computing parts.
In the end, delivering safe, secure, efficient and uninterrupted service depends on precise, on-time communications between stations, traffic control, dispatch centers and rolling stock.
The Problem of Obsolescence
Rail investment and expansion is commonly tied to changes in transportation policy and funding. Uncertainty makes it difficult to balance the ever-increasing cost of maintenance with the potential of rail expansion and modernization.
Traffic control management of rail systems requires electronics that run reliably 24/7, year after year. As legacy electronics age it is easy to see why product obsolescence is a problem. Even with the prospect of new investment, reduced inventories of these components and shifting standards have now transformed obsolescence from a risk to reality.
Indeed, long term support and availabity of the ever-aging legacy electronics equipment and infrastructure (often spanning decades) poses new threats to existing funding and service levels—most importantly to safety.
Beyond the largely straight-forward need to service aging mechanical parts, lack of clear-cut solutions for electronics parts constitutes a mission-critical risk.
In addition, long qualification lead-times and high unavailability costs mean obsolescence solutions must often be rapidly implemented and commonly represent an unexpected and significant drain on resources.
A practical obsolescence management plan can radically reduce the risk of unexpected costs and failures, and this is the primary reason the Rail Industry returns to GDCA year after year.
As technology has developed, so has GDCA—as both a manufacturer and service provider. Our longevity affords us a unique understanding of the full impact of obsolescence on our customers who manufacture and maintain rail systems and equipment.