This article first appeared in the Railway-News Magazine Issue 3 2023.
Astronics Test Systems is a leader in subsystem testing in the rail sector.
We interviewed Jim Curtis, Engineering Fellow – Transit, about the company’s consolidated test system, its benefits to transit operators and the future of equipment testing in the sector.
Keri Allan, Railway-News: What’s unique about your consolidated test system?
Jim Curtis: It’s literally a single test station that can verify and troubleshoot almost every subsystem on a train. It’s unique in that this one platform can address systems from multiple vendors across multiple disciplines from communications subassemblies through to propulsion and electromechanical door systems. We have a consolidated test station that will test any boards or subassemblies powered by car body voltage. Then there’s our high-voltage test system for anything that uses third rail input voltage. Some customers require both and in these cases we’re able to turn them into one single platform.
KA: How has this been developed to support the mass transit industry?
JC: The latest system is the result of around 15 years of development. Our first exposure to the transit sector was developing a test system for New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA). Since then, we’ve delivered test equipment for just about everything in the industry. As a result, we understand what’s needed to support the entire range of products a test technician has to deal with on a daily basis.
We take feedback from customers and then tweak our design accordingly. Take interface test adaptors (ITAs). Any test system requires a connection to the unit you’re testing and technicians had difficulty maintaining large numbers of these ITAs.
In response we developed a ‘universal’ ITA utilising our custom switching matrix to greatly increase the number of units under test (UUTs) that can be tested on a single ITA.
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