A Winona company is launching itself into uncharted territories and hoping to take over the market with a new, state-of-the-art product.
After more than two years of designing, engineers at Miller Ingenuity are debuting Zone Guard, a system designed to protect railroad workers.
"About a dozen people get killed every year because they're working on the track and they don't see the train and it kills them," Steve Blue, CEO of Miller Ingenuity said. "There's one person who is in charge of watching for a train, that in all reality, shouldn't even be coming down the track."
That person, according to Blue, is the most likely to be killed by a passing train. His company is looking to change that.
"It has a 100 percent detection rate," he said. "It does not miss a train, ever."
The system uses lasers, cameras, radar and neuro-networks to detect train movement and alert workers farther down the track.
"Workers will put a wearable on their hard hat or belts and if a train is detected, it will vibrate," he said. "That is the first warning to get off the track and out of the way."
The "wearable" also can keep track of data, including the actions of the workers wearing them, circadian rhythm, and if the worker falls down or has a medical emergency.
"All of that data is then sent to the Cloud, where we interpret it and then sell it to the company that has purchased Zone Guard," Blue said.
Blue said the many fail-safes and the ability to send the workers data to the cloud makes Zone Guard the first of its kind in the country.
"By November of this year, California will have a mandate on all passenger rail lines that require systems like Zone Guard," he said."The feds are really close to mandating it on freight train lines as well."
Blue said he has several patents pending on the technology and expects to take over the market.
"We're really the only ones who have invested in this emerging technology," he said. "Some competitors have dabbled in it, but we're far ahead."