- Upgraded ticket vending machines improve transaction speed by 30 percent in South Korean metro stations, reducing lines and allowing for more efficient staff allocation
Urbanization refers to population shifts from rural to urban areas, resulting in oftentimes radical societal and cultural changes. In many countries, this process has been accelerating over the past several decades, creating or exacerbating a wide range of problems for local governments. Among the biggest, most-difficult issues to address is transportation, because most urban centers were not designed to handle the massive amounts of people who now commute to and from work.
Intercity and metropolitan railway systems have long been a popular solution for providing cost-effective transportation for large numbers of people. As the effects of climate change become increasingly evident, the importance of mass transit systems has grown due to their relatively small carbon footprint. In addition to building new networks, many local governments are looking to upgrade their existing infrastructure to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.
One often-overlooked area in rail systems is ticket vending machines (TVMs). These machines are frequently the first interaction a passenger has with the system, and they are important for revenue collection and ensuring the efficiency of operations. TVM failures lead to impeded traffic flow, long lines, missed trains, and additional work for station staff. As such, ensuring that these machines are fault-proof and easy-to-use is critical to enhancing customer satisfaction.
New TVMs aims to provide round-the-clock service and improve customer satisfaction
South Korean state-run railway operator Korea Railroad Corp. (Korail) understood the importance of high uptime for TVMs and decided those upgrades were necessary. As a nationwide improvement project would mean a massive outlay, Korail decided to undertake the initiative in stages. The first subject of upgrades is the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, which has the heaviest usage — 8 million passengers per day — and its machines require updates. Korail aims to boost TVM performance and transaction speed through more powerful and reliable hardware.
Meantime, conventional upgrades represent a complete set of hardware replacements and have to go through the pain again in the next life cycle. A viable strategy would be to deploy a more flexible architecture that cuts the modularization to a finer scope, allowing the implementation of a comprehensive plan to be more phasic and hierarchical.
After a thorough review of its product and services portfolio, Korail chose Taiwan-based DFI Inc. to supply the core hardware for the upgraded TVMs. DFI is a leading global provider of high-performance industrial computers and embedded systems. For nearly 40 years, DFI has provided highly effective solutions for customers in a variety of sectors — including industrial automation, edge computing, healthcare, gaming, intelligent transportation, smart energy, and smart retail — through total quality management from design to production.
As TVMs at the minimum require the integration of a coin acceptor and a ticket dispenser, the final product needed to be modular, expandable, and have multiple interfaces. Korail specified that the new TVMs must be reliable — capable of operating around-the-clock and requiring as little maintenance as possible — and cost-effective, as the firm was working with a limited budget. Also, the rail operator requires dedicated technical support throughout every stage of development and value-added services.
DFI’s COM Express systems provide the foundation for powerful, flexible TVMs
DFI proposed redeveloping the TVMs based on its line of COM Express-form factor industrial computers. These systems are based around Intel® Core central processing units for high performance while maintaining remarkably low power consumption.
Due to its inherent flexibility, the COM Express format provides many interfaces for ticket dispensers, printers, banknote and coin receivers, coin hoppers and sorters, and other equipment used in TVMs. A wide range of display interfaces provides users with a rich multimedia experience, and DFI’s industrial-grade design and testing have resulted in devices with a mean time before failure (MTBF) of more than 100,000 hours and defective parts per million (DPPM) of less than 200. Also, the ability to swap carrier boards simplifies hardware upgrades.
DFI’s field engineer and research and development teams have been providing technical consultations and debugging services since the project began. These services include device schematic and layout reviews, as well as BIOS customization to ensure the TVMs achieve the stated specifications and seamlessly integrate into Korail’s existing infrastructure. They have also provided invaluable resources such as design information and electronic application programming interface guides for seamless integration.
The solution also offers great extension in terms of performance and application, such as the interconnection of surveillance systems or cash flow devices, and further strikes a balance between new technology and cost when introducing IoT applications to public utilities.
Upgraded units resolve long-standing issues to improve service
Development is ongoing and DFI’s redesigned TVMs are to be deployed at major metro stations in Seoul, Incheon, Busan, Daegu, and Gwangju.
Installation of more than 300 units is scheduled to begin in 2021, with scores more projected over the subsequent three years — mostly equipped with seventh, eighth, and ninth-generation Intel® Core i5 processors. Seoul Station is expected to see the largest deployment.
Korail has seen a 30 percent improvement in the transaction speed of upgraded TVMs, resulting in shorter lines at stations and more efficient allocation of staff. Besides, the deployment of updated machines has improved connectivity with USB devices, solved unstable serial port communications, and provided a measure of future-proofing.
- COM Express form factor based on Intel® Core processors
- Interchangeable carrier boards facilitate future upgrades in scalability
- Numerous interfaces to connect various related devices
- A wide range of display interfaces provides rich multimedia experiences
- Over 100,000 hours for MTBF, 200 DPPM, 15-year warrenty, and 100% revision control