Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

Automation of French motorway - 40 workstations on fibre optic network

April 2000 Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

A busy French motorway system is using Adroit scada MMI software for effective traffic control and streamlined toll management. The A14 motorway is the first urban toll motorway in France. Linking the Paris-La Defence business centre with the Normandy motorway, the A14 opened to traffic in November 1996. With two significant traffic peaks daily, SAPN (Société des Autoroutes Paris-Normandie), the motorway concessionaire, has adopted state-of-the-art techniques to ensure consistent safety and comfort for road users. The motorway is operated by VIA-GTI within the SCE A14 group.

G. le Roux, Director of Via Autoroute, explains, "These traffic peaks demand the full operational availability of the toll equipment and require excellent accident response capabilities." The system can also be subject to extra pressure at other times. M. Boutet, Toll Manager, adds, "An accident on the Normandy motorway causes an immediate build-up of traffic on the A14."

In addition to the need for traffic control, the system must also deal with the diverse requirements of the motorway users. The toll system must be able to accept a wide range of means of payment (credit card, cheque, cash, private cards, electronic toll collection, season tickets, shared car usage, etc.) while guaranteeing rapid transaction times. Le Roux stresses, "The final purpose of this type of motorway is to cut down daily journey times." The operators are determined to make the A14 motorway not just a 'motorway service' but a 'driver-oriented motorway service'. "With this in view, the adoption of multimodal toll lanes (offering manual, automatic or electronic toll collection) with virtually all lanes open on a permanent basis is part of our strategy to attain our goal of customer satisfaction," adds Boutet.

System integrator Cegelec-CGA chose a distributed architecture computer system based on Adroit 32 bit scada MMI software and an Oracle database, running on a combination of Windows NT and Windows 95. This system uses an optical fibre network connected to more than 40 computers running on Windows (NT and 95) for the lane equipment, server and workstations. These machines are installed in the toll-plaza computer buildings of the two half-plazas (one for each direction of travel). They are dedicated to the supervision of the toll systems and the management of transactions and takings.

The Cegelec-CGA concept of having a toll plaza computer that is compatible with all conventional or electronic toll collection equipment offers a modern and efficient management tool oriented in particular towards lane availability and vehicle throughput.

The Adroit and Oracle software and the Windows NT and 95 operating systems were chosen to provide an effective solution to the complexity caused by the mixing of industrial, mission-critical requirements with those of a traditional banking environment - a combination that inevitably occurs in the operation of a modern motorway toll system. These two aspects are contained in the architecture that incorporates the Oracle database and the Adroit scada MMI system.

With the combination of Oracle and Windows NT, the Cegelec-CGA system guarantees a high level of transaction security: "We haven't lost any financial data since motorway operation began and, if a problem should arise, we can always retrieve the data which will be stored in the payment chain," points out Boutet.

The Adroit 32 bit scada MMI software makes optimal use of the Windows NT functions. The speed and user-friendliness of the toll supervision application created in Adroit enables flexible monitoring of the two half plazas and gives wide-ranging options for interaction with the toll equipment.

"We can control all the equipment at this toll barrier from either of the two half lazas,"states Le Roux. "What's more," adds Boutet, "the system gives me supervisory functions and access to the database from my Windows NT office PC. This means I can have access to all the information needed for my work at any time."

The security solution adopted by Cegelec-CGA, which is based around Windows NT domains and within which Adroit seamlessly integrates, also guarantees security of access to the data processing functions. "Everybody has access to the screens they need according to their responsibilities," remarks Boutet.

The A14 toll system has built up to cruising speed without any hitches, and this has strengthened operator confidence in the system. Boutet sums up the solution as an "operational, functional and user-friendly system.

"We also appreciate the fact that the system architecture will readily lend itself to any future upgrades we might require," concludes Le Roux.


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