Every motorist knows the frustration of delays when traffic lights fail – or are being re-configured – at even the simplest of road junctions. Now, an ingenious ‘plug and play’ solution enables installers to set up a complete new set of lights – including posts and control cabinets – at complex junctions with minimal disruption.
With all the hardware and software components factory assembled and tested before delivery to site, it is now possible to halve installation time, with benefits in terms of costs – and motorists’ tempers.
Proof of the system comes in the Transport for London (TfL) project to switch existing installations in West London from incandescent lamps to LED lights – for better energy efficiency, visibility and reliability. Production can readily be upscaled for pedestrianisation projects with significant traffic resignalling requirements in surrounding areas.
The new approach begins in the Multipulse Electronics factory in Woking, Surrey, where fully-fitted traffic light poles and control cabinets and cabling are assembled and tested. They are shipped to site, ready for contractors to fix in position, connect and switch on.
Multipulse Managing Director John Fitzsimons says installation engineers no longer have the time-consuming tasks of fitting the lamp ‘heads’ to the poles and testing the system prior to final commissioning.
He says: “Rather than configuring systems at the roadside, we have developed a pre-assembly and test solution for each complete signalling system.
“We have used our 34 years’ experience in industrial electronics manufacturing to ensure we can overcome any trouble-shooting issues prior to delivery to the site. This results in reduced installation and commissioning timescales – and systems that are produced in a professional manufacturing environment.”
He says the switch to more efficient lights is a good opportunity to refresh operating systems, too.
“There are many variables in the design of the traffic light system for each individual site, so we start with a detailed analysis of the layout of a junction or crossing, and the typical traffic and pedestrian movements. Depending on the site, we either replicate the existing installation or work with traffic engineers to improve the design or develop one from scratch.
“We obtain all the necessary components from various sources and assemble each major element, with testing at every stage. We program and test every ‘plug and play’ tray so that it’s ready to operate the lights as soon as the engineers power it up.”
John Fitzsimons says: “Everything is produced on a ‘just-in-time’ basis, which ensures that system components are delivered to each site precisely when the engineers need them.”