Operating machines, also known as “yellow machines“, are used for the maintenance of the railway infrastructure. Although there is no regulatory reference that imposes this color scheme, these machines must be visible and recognizable from a long distance; hence, the yellow.

Traditionally, this color is believed to be the best for this purpose and is associated, in other sectors as well, with a warning signal. Red, on the other hand, is associated with a danger sign (for example, just think that in the past there was an Italian technical prescription that required the presence of a red panel on the front of the vehicle for all locomotives circulating in Italy).

Paddington Station – Elisabeth Line – London. Source: Costain.com

Historically, for example, even the trains of the Elisabeth Line in London had to be equipped with a yellow front panel to increase the visibility of the vehicle. In fact, starting from the 50s of the last century, the first electric and diesel trains were born and they were much more quieter than their steam predecessors. This standard has recently been superseded thanks to the development of new technologies in the field of lighting and, therefore, of the increasingly advanced headlights of the train. It is therefore the direct railway operators  who are currently responsible for making vehicles safe and must ensure that these are sufficiently visible.

Yellow machines are therefore vehicles that, like trains, travel on tracks and are used in many different applications; by way of example: grass cutting, construction of the catenary, tamping of the tracks, construction of new lines or renewal of existing ones; This last operation consists in the replacement of worn rails, an activity that, until the last century, was done by hand! (as you can see in numerous westerns).

Workers involved in the construction of a railway. Source: Farwest.it

Although they are little known, even among fans of the sector, they are essential and, like industrious bees, they work silently to ensure the efficiency and safety of railway lines.

Often these machines operate concurrently with other vehicles in service, in an almost totally automated way, and are subjected to stringent criteria of environmental respect (minimization of noise, dust and vibrations). It happens that they find themselves operating in the city center, in the presence of historic buildings, or in tunnels, with consequent logistical difficulties in the handling of machines and materials.

These are very complex vehicles. Suffice it to say that a renovating train, whose function is to replace worn rails and sleepers with new parts, is made up of: 1 locomotive, 10 transporter wagons, 1 renovating train, 1 pandrol clipping machine, cranes. And if this was not enough, following the renovating train there are profiling machines, tamping machines and a welder.

Plasser&Theurer tamping machine. Source: Ferrovie.it

The fleet of operating vehicles is very numerous: the machines authorized by RFI are currently more than 9,000 but further upgrades and investments are planned for new ones such as trailers, wagons / carriages, positioning machines, re-laying trains, locomotives and weeder trains.

And for this multitude of yellow cars, there are as many operators in the sector who have to interface with these trains every day.


Our mission is in fact to create the best conditions for interaction between person and machine, of any kind.

We design and manufacture driver desks around the driver, to facilitate driving operations and require minimal effort of the operator. The design and layout of the driving position are therefore conceived to “embrace” the human, who every day has to interact with a machine that combines the complexity of a railway vehicle with that of an operating machine.

We use cutting-edge technologies in order to meet high quality and reliability standards, in compliance with all the sector regulations, in order to create something innovative and that really improves the working conditions of train drivers around the world.

Discover more: http://www.spii.eu/our-solutions/intellicockpit-solutions/driver-desk/

See you next time,
Valentina Marrese


How many things can you do with your feet?

How many things can you do with your feet? 1000 600 Spii

The human foot is a work of art and an engineering masterpiece (Michelangelo Buonarroti)

How many actions do you perform with your feet, often even without thinking about it?

Don’t just consider common actions such as walking or running but for example when you drive your car, when you practice your favorite sport and, perhaps, even in the workplace.

The position of the legs, and of the feet in particular, plays a central role in the work and driving stations, especially in cases where there are pedals or other controls to be operated with the feet.

While driving a train, for example, the driver operates the pedals to activate various functions, including the confirmation of “person presence and altertness” (dead man function), the operation of the sandboxes, of the horn and the adjustment of the footrest height.


As a center of competence for human-machine devices, we design and manufacture pedals according to the specific requirements of the customer, as well as use them integrated in our footrests and driver desks, always making available our expertise in Technology, Ergonomics and Style.

The main feature that identifies a pedal is the number and type of positions it must have.


For workstations subject to more severe working conditions, we offer products available in the catalogue but, at the same time, we are always looking for new solutions developed according to the customer’s needs. Products with IP protection, designed to withstand the access of water, dust and foreign bodies, are essential in these circumstances.

Our high-quality pedals offer high performance, reliability in any environment and durability and are present on driver desks all over the world from Europe to Australia, passing through Russia and America.


The output interface is customizable and configurable, via electrical connections, and / or communication protocols (Can Open, ethernet, Profinet etc). It is also possible to define the most suitable degree of safety, even with SIL certification.

Would you like to learn more? Visit our website: http://www.spii.eu/our-solutions/intellicockpit-solutions/footrest/

See you on the next time,
Stefano Milani


Company processes at the service of products – SIL master controller

Company processes at the service of products – SIL master controller 1000 600 Spii

Company processes are the way to achieve the best possible quality for products designing, manufacturing and validation. In this article we will focus on the quality process applied to validation, especially the activities from the customer needs to the completion of the product SIL assessment.

SIL stands for Safety Integrity Level and it is intended as a risk reduction upon a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF). These risk levels, linked to customer defined safety functions, are identified through risk matrixes and other mathematical calculations function on how the total safety is allocated upon the entire train system. SIL lever are going from Basic Integrity Level (the lowest, less safe) to SIL4 (the highest and safest).
Achieving a certain SIL level means having a sufficient organization to guarantee existence and independence of the involved company functions. Moreover, a design, verification and validation process for both hardware and software able to manage requirement and to generate drawings, source codes, type tests and report is essential for this goal.

SPII is able to provide SIL products solutions for both hardware and software according to standards EN 50129 and EN 50657 and manage its own design process in quality according to standard ISO/TS 22163

Master controller functions such as dead-man device, operator presence control, analog and digital encoder outputs, even if developed with software assistance, can be SIL certified, fully embracing the fusion of technology, ergonomics and safety, at the basis of SPII working philosophy. 

Do you want to learn more? Click here: http://www.spii.eu/our-solutions/intellicockpit-solutions/master-controller/

See you next time,
Davide Rossi

sezionatore modulare

Let’s make safety a team goal!

Let’s make safety a team goal! 1004 602 Spii
Picture 1 – source: Verga Formazione – Electrical Risk Course

We speak more and more often about workplace safety referring to the set of measures and assessments that must be implemented to protect the health and integrity of workers from surrounding risks.
Each company, therefore, cannot exempt itself from giving the subject the attention it deserves by leveraging on two dimensions: prevention and protection.

Whether it is a construction site, an office or your home, risk factors, accidents and injuries, occupational diseases must be eliminated or, at least, reduced and controlled. This is certainly also reflected in the productivity and development of the company itself.
Certainly some types of work present greater dangers than others; for example, the maintenance of railway vehicles and exposure to high voltage electricity requires the presence of highly qualified and trained personnel in addition to the presence of safety devices, such as voltage detectors, earthing switches, insulation sticks.

The protection and safety of maintenance systems, on board trains or infrastructures, is therefore guaranteed by means of devices capable of ensuring maximum reliability for operators, even in the most severe environmental conditions (for example, in coastal or industrial areas or in presence of extreme temperatures …).

Picture 2 – manually operated earthing switch complete with safety locks.

Interrupting the power supply and then grounding a high voltage circuit efficiently before performing maintenance is essential for the safety of personnel.

The human factor is fundamental and our goal is to allow the operator to act easily and without the possibility of error, in complete safety and serenity.

In this context, our manually operated earthing switch is a valuable ally in the daily work of thousands of maintenance workers. Ergonomics, ease of operation and certainty of the result are essential features for these safety devices. At SPII we design solutions that want to make life easier: easy to define, configure, install, use and maintain.

Picture 3 – manually operated modular disconnector

The modular and multipole disconnector is used for applications from 600V to 3KV DC. It is highly configurable according to the specific application: it can vary in the number of poles, in the switching sequence and in the operating mode (manual, electric, pneumatic).

Picture 4 – earthing switch, front view (operating lever and safety lock)

The safety of our devices can be further increased by integrating diagnostic modules for sending information, for example temperature, position or contact wear, to CBM systems or they can be equipped with safety devices such as locks, exchangers or key holders.

Picture 5 – knife switch (1)

Our traditional knife switch is also used for grounding the HV circuits downstream of the traction converter. The blades, in this configuration, are operated directly by the maintenance operator by means of an insulation stick.
The range of application is very wide in terms of both voltage (from 600-750V DC to 3KV DC) and rated operating current. Also in this case, the solution is plug & play and can be supplied with an integrated box for all components, complete with wiring and pre-tested in the laboratory.

Our disconnectors are compact, flexible in use, reliable and require little maintenance.

Picture 6 – knife switch (2)

Technology, Safety and Ergonomics? These are the keywords.

Learn more: http://www.spii.eu/our-solutions/ac-dc-rail/

See you next time!
Valentina Marrese

Power is nothing without a (master) controller

Power is nothing without a (master) controller 1265 754 Spii

Italian technology

“Power is nothing without control” said a famous slogan of the Pirelli brand, for the first time 25 years ago. The company, global leader in the production of premium and prestige tires, is a worldwide symbol of innovation, Italian spirit and cutting-edge technology.

J.R. Moehringer, American writer and journalist, in the short story “The control of power” dedicated to sport, underlined: “Everyone happens to think, wrongly, that great athletes, actors, painters, doctors, entrepreneurs and so on are gifted with special powers. We all actually have special powers. Successful people are those who manage to keep these powers under control in a lasting and constant way “.

With Pirelli, we share the same inspiration: at the center of SPII’s work there is undoubtedly technology at the service of control, capable of guaranteeing high quality and safety standards in the transport sector. Furthermore, our determination, perseverance, passion and experience in the market mean that our customers can always rely on our competences.

And which product, in a train, best embodies these concepts of control, precision and reliability? The master controller.

The human at the center

Traction and braking controllers are designed to meet the needs, in terms of ergonomics and style, of drivers.  Through tactile feedback, they can enjoy a comfortable, reliable and safe driving experience. The human is at the center and the interaction with the vehicle through the interfaces, levers and buttons, is completely customizable and configurable. Electrical and pneumatic connections and / or communication protocols (Can Open, Ethernet, Profinet, etc …), SIL certification, are just some of the possibilities we offer.

Over the years we have developed a wide range of solutions and technologies and we have dealt with applications and standards all over the world, always attentive to the care of every little detail.

Although, in economic terms, the master controller only represents 0.02% of an entire railway vehicle, its intrinsic value is priceless. If it doesn’t work properly, the remaining 99.98% of the train’s value loses its utility.

So, don’t be deceived by its small size! Precision mechanics, electromechanical, pneumatic and electronic systems are perfectly integrated into a system that must be Reliable, Available, Maintainable and Safe.

It is difficult for science and technology, in their general lines, to surpass science fiction. But in many, small and unexpected details there will always be absolute surprises that science fiction writers have never thought of.

Isaac Asimov

Do you want to learn more? Click here! http://www.spii.eu/our-solutions/intellicockpit-solutions/master-controller/

See you next time!

Valentina Marrese

La potenza è nulla senza (master) controller

La potenza è nulla senza (master) controller 1265 754 Spii

Tecnologia all’italiana

“Il potere è nulla senza il controllo” recitava per la prima volta 25 anni fa un famoso slogan del brand Pirelli, azienda italiana leader nella produzione di pneumatici premium e prestige, simbolo in tutto il mondo di innovazione, italianità e tecnologia all’avanguardia.

J.R. Moehringer, scrittore e giornalista statunitense, nel racconto “Il controllo della potenza” dedicato allo sport, sottolineava: “A tutti capita di pensare, erroneamente, che i grandi atleti, attori, pittori, medici, imprenditori e così via siano dotati di poteri speciali. In realtà tutti abbiamo dei poteri speciali. Le persone di successo sono quelle che riescono a tenere sotto controllo questi poteri in maniera duratura e costante”.

Seguiamo la stessa ispirazione di Pirelli: al centro del lavoro di SPII vi è senza dubbio la tecnologia al servizio del controllo, in grado di garantire elevati standard qualitativi e di sicurezza nel settore dei trasporti.  Inoltre, la nostra determinazione, costanza, passione ed esperienza sul mercato fanno sì che i nostri clienti possano sempre fare affidamento sulle nostre competenze. 

E quale prodotto, in un treno, meglio incarna questi concetti di controllo, precisione ed affidabilità? Il master controller.

L’uomo al centro

I manipolatori di trazione e frenatura, sono progettati per soddisfare le esigenze, in termini di ergonomia e stile, dei macchinisti che, tramite feedback tattili possono godere di una esperienza di guida confortevole, affidabile e sicura. L’uomo è al centro e l’interazione con il veicolo attraverso le interfacce, leve e pulsanti, è completamente personalizzabile e configurabile. Connessioni elettriche, pneumatiche e/o protocolli di comunicazione (Can Open, Ethernet, Profinet, ecc…), certificazione SIL, sono solo alcune delle possibilità che offriamo.

Nel corso degli anni abbiamo sviluppato una vasta gamma di soluzioni e tecnologie e ci siamo confrontati con applicazioni e standard in tutto il mondo, sempre attenti alla cura di ogni più piccolo dettaglio.

Nonostante, in termini economici, il manipolatore rappresenti soltanto lo 0,02% di un intero veicolo ferroviario, il suo valore intrinseco è inestimabile. Se non funziona correttamente, il restante 99,98% del valore del treno perde di utilità.

Non fatevi dunque ingannare dalle sue dimensioni ridotte! Meccanica di precisione, sistemi elettromeccanici, pneumatici ed elettronici si integrano alla perfezione in un sistema che deve essere affidabile, disponibile, longevo e sicuro.

È difficile che la scienza e la tecnologia, nelle loro linee generali, superino la fantascienza. Ma in molti, piccoli e inattesi particolari vi saranno sempre delle sorprese assolute a cui, gli scrittori di fantascienza, non hanno mai pensato.
Isaac Asimov

Vuoi saperne di più? Clicca qui! http://www.spii.eu/le-nostre-soluzioni/intellicockpit-solutions-ita/master-controller-ita/

Alla prossima!

Valentina Marrese