ALTPRO is a high-tech company which develops and manufactures safety and signalling systems for railways. The Company is well-positioned in a highly specialized niche which makes it one of the world leaders in research, development and manufacturing of such systems. Currently, the Company is present in more than 50 countries worldwide through a wide network of partners and agents on 6 continents. Systems which are researched and developed by ALTPRO are highly innovative and made according to relevant norms and standards.

The company divides their products and services into two main segments – signalling systems for railway infrastructure and safety systems for railway vehicles. Main products in the segment of railway infrastructure are vital train detection systems and automatized level crossing protection systems. In the segment of safety systems for vehicles, ALTPRO produces “Automatic train protection” and complementary systems/components like “black boxes”, train driver registration and similar. With every product they offer services of education and training of staff, life-long maintenance as well as installation, implementation and testing anywhere in the world.

Interview with Tin Viduka, Board member, Head of Marketing at ALTPRO.

Easy Engineering: Who are your customers? In which markets are you most active?

Tin Viduka: Our customers are mainly national and private railways, railway operators and companies in the railway business. We cooperate with big multinational companies and construction integrators on big infrastructural projects where ALTPRO plays the role of sub-supplier.

Our main markets are in Southeast Europe and in Asia where ALTPRO gained a strong market position and where it has been doing business for many years. Train detection systems made by ALTPRO are implemented on all 6 continents making this product one of the very few high-tech products from Croatia that is spread so widely in the world.

E.E: How important is innovation and innovative products to your business?

T.V: We like to say that innovation is our way to survive and prosper in the global market. Therefore, it can be concluded that we have introduced innovation in every segment of our business and, of course, in our products. The process of innovation in our company and in the industry is long-lasting considering that we are in a fairly conservative environment. In the railways, there is a saying “If it works, don’t touch it”, and such an attitude is not in line with the implementation of innovations and the continuous introduction of something new. Nevertheless, we have found a way to take the innovation into the “equation” in spite of relatively slow changes in the railways.

One of the innovative products which has quickly found its application is the monorail detection system. It is a unique product in the world and fills a very narrow niche of reliable and safe detection of monorail multiple sets which are now the trend in the world and the future of urban passenger transport. The train position information serves many vital safety systems and therefore it is essential that this information is 100% accurate and reliable. This is a product created as a result of global cooperation because Croatia itself is unlikely to introduce and implement monorail technology in the foreseen future.

E.E: Can you describe example of one project?

T.V: We recently completed the delivery of the first large series of M sensors to China to the city of Wuhu with 3.7 million inhabitants, which is as far from Shanghai as Zagreb is from Split. For the purposes of the project construction of a new monorail route, which is being done jointly by the world’s largest companies Bombardier and CRRC, the first large quantity of our M sensors has been delivered. Monorail is not a classic railway, it’s the passenger railway of the future on a single concrete rail. The development of our M sensor took years in collaboration with potential users from France, Japan, USA and China. The initial plan was to produce a small series of 500 pieces of M sensors per year. But with the completion of development, testing and the first successful installations, the process for deliveries on 4 continents began.

E.E: Why did the client choose your solutions and what products were used?

T.V:  The M sensor series are the world’s first sensors for the train detection in light or urban railways. We developed them ourselves, and the development took almost 7 years, starting with the POC (Proof of Concept) project back in 2012 when we had the first concept idea. The sensor works on a similar principle of detection how the sensors for wheel detection on a classic railway work, where we have significantly improved the immunity and adaptability of the sensor to different designs – from monorail, metros, APM etc.. Precisely due to different designs, its specific installation, we have three versions of sensors: M, M1 and M3. Our sensors successfully meet the specifications required of train manufacturers, and is the only one to have passed all the tests in Paris, Macau and Hiroshima that were done in collaboration with Mitsubishi. No competing company has managed to meet all the requirements so far as our sensor, and our main competitors are mostly large multinational companies.

E.E: How do your products help improve safety for railway transport?

T.V: The products manufactured by ALTPRO are, from a safety point of view, critical to any railway infrastructure or for any railway traction vehicle. These devices do some of the hardest works on the railways, while at the same time they have to be highly reliable and have to guarantee full safety. Likewise, in the very unlikely event of a malfunction, our devices must be able to accurately identify the malfunction and continue to operate in safe mode.

An example which we can cite is our automatic train stop system (ATPS) mounted on railway traction vehicle driven by a driver. Its task is to stop the vehicle in the case of a breakdown, speeding, inattentive driver, passing through the stop signal, etc. There are innumerable instances where our device has saved the entire train set from the accident by recognizing one of these irregular actions and it safely decelerated and fully stopped the vehicle or train. Also, our device systematically monitors all technical actions on the railway traction vehicle as well as the actions of the driver, which can later serve in the investigation of a potential technical or human error that may be remedied.

The long service life of our devices, their reliability, state-of-the-art diagnostics and adaptability to old and new safety systems around the world bring great benefits to their users.

E.E: How do you think your systems will help develop the railway sector in the future?

T.V: Such systems make the railways faster, more efficient and easier to use, both for passengers and operators. This will result in railways being more attractive to transport both freight and people. This gives an extremely competitive form of transportation which can be used anywhere, anytime. Of course, it will take some time for the railways to be able to drive across the ocean or to stop in front of homes, but there is a large space that the railways will fill by the implementation of such and similar systems in their regular functioning.

Quality systems such as ALTPRO ones increase the safety of rail transport, increase the volume of transport of goods and passengers and reduce the costs. This increases the competitiveness of railways as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. Full electrification of railways will mean a lot in the struggle for the protection of the environment and the climate.