Eurotunnel selects Arbor’s fanless Box PCs to improve check-in efficiency


One of Europe’s busiest border crossing facilities has upgraded the computer system that operates toll-styled check-in systems with new rugged industrial fanless Box PCs that have been chosen for their reliability and configuration flexibility.

The Channel Tunnel between the UK and France was built in 1994. It is a key connection for the European high-speed transport network and plays an important role for regional economic development. The Channel Tunnel is used by 2.5 million cars, 1.5 million trucks and 21 million people every year. High-speed passenger trains and rail freight trains also run through the tunnel. All vehicular traffic is transported through the tunnel aboard specially designed rail cars. The majority of traffic is pre-booked, with automatic self check-in and manned ‘toll booths’ allowing access to the boarding areas.

Taiwan-based Arbor Technology, a leading provider of embedded computing systems, has announced that Eurotunnel, the Channel Tunnel operator, has selected its FPC-7701 fanless Box PC for both its manned and fully automated toll booths, which require reliable ruggedized embedded computing systems to maximize check-in efficiency. Processes such as automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), access barrier control, and ticket printing are controlled through this PC interface.

Originally the Industrial Box PC was specified as a fan cooled system, however, Arbor’s UK division proposed a more reliable fanless solution. Selecting the FPC-7701 from the company’s extensive range of ruggedized Industrial Box PC products gave the ideal base platform; additional I/O (input/output) was then added using the PCI and PCIe expansion ports. This, coupled with the Intel Core i5 CPU and an extended operating temperature range of -20 ~ +55°C, meant that the fanless Box PC FPC-7701 exceeded the required specifications. A demo system was delivered within one week of request, allowing Eurotunnel to evaluate the proposed hardware, check compatibility with their custom software, and conduct the extensive testing required to ensure that the long term reliability would be achieved.

The FPC-7701 units feature: wide-range DC power input (9-36V); various video interfaces (DVI-I + DVI-D) supported; optional wi-fi or HSUPA wireless connectivity; rugged design for shock/vibration protection; memory support up to 16GB (DDR3); 4 x RS-232 ports via one DB-44 female connector; 6 x USB 2.0 ports and 4 x USB 3.0/ 2.0 ports; and 2 x DVI-I/D female connectors for digital/analog video output. Custom metalwork was designed by Arbor UK to enable the Fanless Box PC to fit onto the existing mounting points. By using in-house CAD modeling, the design concepts could be evaluated without the need for prototyping. Industrial PC manufacturing by Arbor in Taiwan, with configuration and testing at the company’s UK facility, allows Arbor to achieve cost effective pricing, while offering customers the local UK sales, technical and aftersales support that they require.

Eurotunnel’s UK support manager, Nigel Hales, said, “Arbor Technology UK offered the local technical and manufacturing support we wanted, meaning the fanless Box PCs could be configured to our specification and meet our exact expectations.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).