While there is a wide variety of cables available today, single to multi-core copper conductors are used for railway signaling and telecommunications purposes. This is because they are robust enough to withstand extreme physical conditions and are rated fairly to carry the required voltages, current, and frequencies. However, the theft of metal for their resale value increases when worldwide prices for scrap metal rise and the railways, world over, are a favorite target for the copper in their cables.
Experts suggest that cable theft is one of the biggest challenges faced by the railway industry after terrorism. A rough estimate by Indian Railways reveal that, every month in the last three years, train timings have been affected at least 16 times, owing to theft of cables along the tracks. Hence, there is a dire need to detect, alert, and reduce theft-related delays and costs.
At Cyient, we envisaged a solution using Internet of Things (IoT) and translated our thinking to create a functional prototype that could non-invasively detect the location and time of a cable cut, alert the authorities immediately, provide an approximate length of the cable cut, and show the live status of junction boxes on a web application. A noninvasive solution is also expected to eliminate all certification-related issues.
Through this paper, we discuss the challenges that cable theft poses and present our solution.