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Digital transformation in transportation reopens the Mont Blanc Tunnel

14 May 2020

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, rising to over fifteen thousand feet above sea level on the border between Italy and France. Beneath Mont Blanc is the Mont Blanc Tunnel, linking France to Italy via the E25 highway.

It is a strategic roadway as it is a major trade route, especially for Italy, which uses it to transport 1/3 of its freight to Northern Europe. In 2018, a total of 1,956,179 vehicles crossed through the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

The Mont Blanc Tunnel Fire of 1999

In March of 1999, 39 people died when a truck carrying flour and margarine caught fire inside the tunnel. It closed for three years for renovation and improvement. It could not open for business again using the same technologies and way of operating. The tunnel operators had to show they could prevent accidents, but if an accident was to occur, that the response would be quick and effective.

What were the challenges at Mont Blanc Tunnel?

There were two key challenges: first, neither the French nor Italian side could reliably identify when there was an actual problem. Second, even when they recognised the problem, they couldn’t effectively and adequately respond.
The Mont Blanc Tunnel EEIG (European Economic Interest Grouping) commissioned Giordano & C, a system integrator based in Italy, to create a Unified Operations Center at the Mont Blanc Tunnel. The solution is called “LOGOS” (an acronym meaning “Localiser Organiser et Gérer les Opérations de Sécurité”, translated into English, it means: “Localise, Organise, and Manage Security Operations”).

The Results

There are over 200,000 points in the LOGOS solution. Based on Wonderware System Platform from AVEVA and Stratus Technologies everRun, it is the first SCADA system in the world to achieve EN 61508-standard SIL (Safety Integrity Level) 2. The Unified Operations Center monitors and controls the entire 7.2-mile tunnel. It can automatically react when there are tunnel fires by creating a vortex of currents strong enough to suffocate the flames. It is an elegant solution that not only works, but is fully redundant.

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