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How Tracking Solutions Benefit the Tunnel Industry

How Tracking Solutions Benefit the Tunnel Industry

This article shows possible applications of positioning and condition sensors in the tunnel industry.


Tunnels are used for subways, railway tracks, roads, canal systems and mining. Tunnel construction is a complex, lengthy and dangerous process. Also, maintenance and cleaning of tunnels can be complicated and risky. During works in tunnels, indoor tracking and condition monitoring can be implemented to increase workplace safety and to organize processes more efficiently.

Below, use cases and the resulting benefits for the tunnel industry are described.

Tunnel Workers

Tracking of workers: Safety increase

In the risky work environment of tunnel workers, severe accidents can occur. When this happens, it is essential to locate the injured worker as soon as possible to provide him with medical attention. Moreover, it can become necessary to evacuate the tunnel in case of fire or the emission of harmful gases. In such an event, it is important to determine who already left the tunnel and who is still in the danger zone. In emergencies like these, tracking solutions can be implemented to determine the exact location of the searched workers. This allows rapid and effective execution of rescue operations.

Tracking of workers: Efficient work processes

Tracking solutions can also facilitate the organization of work processes. Locating workers enables an effective and efficient deployment of personnel. It can be ensured that workers are deployed exactly where they are needed and only undertake tasks for which they have sufficient experience and training.

Indoor tracking of personnel can, for example, be realized using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons integrated in ISO cards that the workers carry. infsoft Locator Nodes, which are installed on the tunnel walls, register the beacons’ signals. The identified position of the workers can then be shown on a digital map.

Geofencing: Access to danger zones

Certain areas in tunnels are especially dangerous and the access should be monitored strictly. Depending on the situation, only authorized personnel or no worker at all should be granted access to the area. To ensure this, geofencing can be applied. As soon as a worker enters a previously defined danger zone, one or several actions will be triggered automatically. For example, the worker could receive an alert directly on his smartphone, the control center could be informed about the trespassing, or an alarm could be activated.

In order to warn the worker directly via smartphone, a client-based solution including a feedback channel is implemented. Therefore, an app is installed on the worker’s smartphone and Bluetooth is switched on. Furthermore, BLE beacons are positioned at the entrance to the danger zone. As soon as the smartphone app detects the beacons, an automatic alert is generated. To inform the control center or activate an alarm, a server-based solution using BLE beacons and infsoft Locator Nodes is implemented. As soon as the beacon carried by the worker is detected, the pre-defined action starts.

Asset tracking: Coordination of equipment

In addition to people, vehicles, machines and other assets can be located. In this way, needed equipment can be found fast and reliably. Furthermore, a more efficient allocation and coordination of equipment can be realized.

The implementation of asset tracking is similar to the one of tracking people. BLE beacons are attached to vehicles, machines and important tools. The Locator Nodes on the tunnel walls register the beacons in their vicinity.

Asset and Personnel Tracking in Tunneling

Condition sensors: Monitoring of air quality

The above-mentioned use cases focus on positioning sensors. Condition sensors, which collect and monitor condition related data, provide further benefits for the tunnel industry. The mostly poor ventilation in tunnels causes health risks for workers. To reduce these risks, sensors that detect certain gases and monitor the air quality can be installed. In case of an emission of dangerous cases or a critical change in air quality, the workers can be warned and rescue operations can be initiated.

In order to ensure a continuous monitoring of air quality, infsoft Sensor Tags are placed on the walls or ceilings of the tunnel. Wireless data communication from the Sensor Tags to the Locator Nodes is provided via Bluetooth Low Energy.

The position and condition data are sent to the infsoft LocAware platform® where they are collected, connected and intelligently processed.

You can find interesting use cases for the tunnel industry here.

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