GILBERT, S.C., March 13, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Norfolk Southern Corporation began aggressively moving its communication control system toward a network-based architecture in January 2012, replacing its legacy consoles with Frontier-enabled Scout™ Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) consoles from Avtec, Inc. With this decision, Norfolk Southern becomes the first Avtec customer to deploy a pure Internet Protocol (IP) console solution that scales across 21 states, provides robust inter-divisional call routing for centralized business processes, meets narrow banding mandates, and provides a state-of-the-art platform for business continuity.
The ongoing deployment at Norfolk Southern, one of the nation's largest transporters of coal, steel, industrial products, and consumer goods, currently consists of 96 VoIP consoles at six divisional dispatch centers: Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, Dearborn, Mich., Fort Wayne, Ind., Decatur, IL, and Roanoke, VA. The Atlanta Center is for central dispatch operations and the Tucker, GA, Center is a dedicated disaster recovery site and can assume the role of any divisional center in an emergency. Once the entire Norfolk Southern main-line dispatching operation is fully migrated, approximately 300 dispatchers will use Avtec Scout consoles to monitor and direct the railway's traffic across 21 states, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
"Avtec offers the only proven IP-based console system that can scale and meet our requirements for WAN bandwidth efficiency. Scout is cost-effective and provides a digital solution end-to-end," said Norfolk Southern's Chief C&S Engineer, Brian Sykes.
Reliable Communications Keeps Workers Safe
Norfolk Southern selected the Scout console system to provide reliable voice communication from each distributed dispatch center to the furthest radio endpoint on its 20,000-mile railway system. "Keeping roadway workers safe is very important to us. Safety is one of our core values, so communications serve a mission-critical function in our operations," said Norfolk Southern's Manager of Communications Engineering, Will Danielsen. "One hundred percent radio coverage and superior sound quality are essential in our line of work. This helps us keep our roadway workers safe and allows the entire Norfolk Southern team to focus on providing superior service to our customers."
Simpler Network Configuration with Less Bandwidth
Norfolk Southern will significantly reduce network complexity and bandwidth demands with Scout's Frontier software, resulting in cost savings. "Avtec's Frontier technology allows us to segregate voice IP traffic from our central dispatch in Atlanta to just the specific sites the dispatchers need to communicate with," said Sykes. "With Frontier, we have instant access to any resource on demand, with minimal network bandwidth, and a much simplified network configuration."
Since Scout consoles are paired with Frontier technology, dispatchers at neighboring divisional centers have access to the endpoints along the boundaries between the divisions. It also allows dispatchers with system-wide functions in Atlanta to connect to any endpoint across all of the divisions. All of these connections are provided without the use of multicast across the WAN and are very bandwidth efficient. The Frontier-enabled Scout consoles will offer Norfolk Southern Any-to-Any™ capability.
Disaster Recovery and Ongoing Product Enhancements
Multi-layered disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities are part of the advanced technology built into the Avtec Scout console system architecture. "Legacy console systems don't provide sufficient disaster recovery options," said Danielsen. "New IP-based technology from Avtec offers multiple system design options that allows us to reduce legacy circuit costs and meet Norfolk Southern's business continuity requirements. Furthermore, Avtec has lived up to their promises by regularly enhancing the Scout software, and their product roadmap for the next two years includes a number of innovations that we are very excited about."
Using Scout consoles with Frontier technology, any site can be configured as a disaster recovery center for any other site. In June 2012, Norfolk Southern conducted an unplanned test of its dedicated disaster recovery center when the air conditioners in its Atlanta operations center stopped working. Due to the extremely high temperatures in the center, the dispatchers relocated to the recovery site to run their daily operations until HVAC operation was restored in Atlanta. "Everything worked seamlessly," remarked Danielsen.
Avtec President Michael Branning said, "Norfolk Southern has earned its reputation as the 'Thoroughbred of Transportation.' We're very proud of our 28-year association with this industry leader. Reliable voice communications via radio is a safety-critical part of the railroad business. Norfolk Southern was looking for a system that provides 24 x 365 availability and can be quickly reconfigured in extreme circumstances. With the addition of our new Frontier software to Scout, we are preparing for the advanced capabilities necessary for enterprise command and control centers."
Avtec's Frontier technology is an optional software license that connects multiple Scout dispatch systems using standard Ethernet networking infrastructure. Frontier reduces network configuration complexity and bandwidth by automatically providing a unicast path between the Frontier gateways across the WAN, and gating audio packets to only those consoles with active endpoints.
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
About Avtec, Inc.
Avtec, Inc. provides pure Internet Protocol (IP) dispatch console solutions for the transportation, public safety, utility, business, and government markets. For more than 30 years, customers have chosen Avtec's award-winning technology for their mission-critical dispatch centers. There are thousands of Scout ™ Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) consoles installed worldwide. Visit www.avtecinc.com
CarterTodd & Associates, Inc.
803-779-4005 (ext.) 2040
Avtec, Inc. provides pure Internet Protocol (IP) dispatch console solutions for the transportation, public safety, utility, business, and government markets. For more than 30 years, customers have chosen Avtec's award-winning technology for their mission-critical dispatch centers. There are thousands of Scout ™ Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) consoles installed worldwide. Visit www.avtecinc.com to learn more.
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