Bus operator futureproofs business with power backup solution

Eaton Industries Pty Ltd

Friday, 01 November, 2019



Bus operator futureproofs business with power backup solution

The public transport sector has transformed over the past couple of years, with customer demands increasingly focused on real-time data and high-quality reliable services.

Starting as a local school bus service in Logan City in 1979, Clarks Logan City Buses has grown to a fleet of 127 buses operating 76 school routes and 28 urban routes in Brisbane under contract to the Queensland Government, amounting to 220,000 trips per year.

Throughout the years, the company has expanded its provision of vital transport services across Logan City and into the Brisbane CBD, which has increased its reliance on information technology (IT) infrastructure and systems including telematics.

When a simple power outage caused systems to go down during a peak operation time in early 2019, Clarks Logan City Buses decided it was essential to secure the hardware in order to continue meeting customer demands, contractual compliance and operational effectiveness.

Real-time needs

In the past few years, Clarks Logan City Buses has been operating in a real-time environment to stay abreast of customer needs and expectations. Operating for 21 hours per day means staff rely heavily on real-time data. Telematics, real-time driver dispatch and roster systems rely on web-based programs to reallocate drivers as things happen.

Another benefit of the real-time telematics system is that it alerts drivers and office staff to crucial information such as bus engine temperature and the level of engine coolant — essential maintenance information for passenger and driver safety.

These technologies support the delivery of essential customer requirements such as reliability, location data, on-time scheduling and safety.

The company is reliant on these processes now to ensure the business runs smoothly and buses are running on time and in roadworthy condition. The telematics also lets them know if buses are running behind schedule so they can intervene and make appropriate operational decisions.

“If the infrastructure went down for half a day three years ago, it wasn’t a big deal. But the reliance of real-time data now means that any downtime would cause huge disruptions to customers and have further cost implications to our business,” said Graham Davis, CEO of Clarks Logan City Buses.

Single integrated solution

At the peak of Queensland summer in 2019, Clarks Logan City Buses consulted with their 18 year-long managed services provider, BES Information Technology Systems in Brisbane, on the best solution for them.

“They needed protection against notifiable data breaches, as well as hardware protection and housing of the equipment, given the sweltering temperatures of a Queensland summer and the challenging physical environment of a bus depot,” said Dylan Mapp, BES Managed Services Director.

BES recommended Eaton’s Micro Data Centre (MDC), an integrated power backup solution that houses servers at the core of the network, right through to switching and other key operational systems.

When Clarks Logan City Buses built a new depot in 2006, consideration given to where IT communications and power would be housed was confined to existing systems and hardware. Due to limited space, the company presumed it would eventually have to build a dedicated server room to house systems which meant additional construction costs.

“A huge benefit for us was the fact that we could house the MDC in the corner of our utility room. This allowed us to consolidate all IT and backup solutions without having to build a dedicated space. Not having to invest in a purpose-built room was a winner for us,” Davis said.

Air conditioning was another key advantage, as the only place a server could be housed was difficult to get cooling and power to. The self-contained data centre meant that BES could put the MDC near an external wall close to the main power board, which greatly simplified the installation process.

BES provides round-the-clock remote support as well as on-site support. They can now conduct part of the maintenance offsite, with the MDC allowing them to remotely grant people access, rather than having to be onsite. This has resulted in quicker response times and increased efficiency.

The remote access capability of the MDC enhances operational protection of the IT environment to ensure systems such as security can be maintained through appropriate policies and controlled access.

“The MDC removed the need for in-room cooling, enhanced physical security with robust environmental controls and maximised network uptime, which were all key priorities for Clarks Logan City Buses,” Mapp said.

Looking ahead

Logan City is a fast-growing city, residentially and commercially. Bus routes will need to be extended to facilitate growth, which means further opportunities for Clarks Logan City Buses to grow their fleet and meet demand.

“We have a reputation for running on time and not dropping trips, which is essential to keeping customers happy. Additionally, we have contract obligations to meet, such as compliance against notifiable data breaches and key performance criteria, such as on-time running, or we may face penalties,” Davis said.

“Ensuring our business is protected and our IT equipment is robust is of critical importance for us.

Knowing that all of our equipment is protected from hazards and outages gives us peace of mind and confidence to grow our business well into the future,” he concluded.

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