Home Availability Digital Transformation in Transportation Reopens the Mont Blanc Tunnel

Digital Transformation in Transportation Reopens the Mont Blanc Tunnel

by Jay David

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, rising to over fifteen thousand feet above sea level. Its location is somewhere in the middle of the border between Italy and France. A popular tourist destination, it is well known for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. 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 recognized 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: “Localize, Organize, and Manage Security Operations”).

The Results: Stratus Technologies and AVEVA’s Wonderware

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.

Digital Transformation for Transportation from AVEVA and Stratus Technologies

Stratus Technologies and AVEVA help transportation customers navigate their Digital Transformation journey, as in the case of the Mont Blanc Tunnel and in many other successful case studies.

First, we help customers visualize across silos, and identify problems and opportunities.

“Rather than each department looking at it and then handing it off to the other department – we are helping them to see it together at the same time, whatever the job function.”

– Stan DeVries, Senior Director of Solution Architecture, AVEVA
Second, we help teams anticipate opportunities or problems reliably and as early as possible, hopefully before the problem or opportunity occurs.
Third, we help customers respond consistently and correctly to the opportunity and the problem.
Fourth, we’re transforming how people get trained.

“We break the old idea of an operator trained to respond correctly to an upset and prevent stoppage, or how a field worker trains correctly to perform their outdoor procedures. It is all good and necessary, but now they’re trained to participate in operating their part of the business. Consequently, you’re not just operating reliably, but you’re operating profitably.”

– Stan DeVries


There’s also the fact that to create a working and reliable solution, you must think of the overall picture: everything you’re trying to do in your high value software is only as available and trustworthy as the hardware that it’s running on.

“A lot of people don’t know the long history between Stratus Technologies and AVEVA – we have been working together on important customers like pipelines in Russia, Mont Blanc tunnel, or St. Louis Lambert International Airport for a long time.”

– Stan DeVries

The combination of Stratus Technologies and AVEVA to create a Digital Transformation solution becomes essential, especially in the case of transportation, and especially when it’s cross-organization. Everything matters if we’re all working together, and we are highly dependent upon operations excellence. Now, the reliability and availability of everything becomes critical, not optional.

“To reach towards Digital Transformation, you need a flexible underlying infrastructure to rapidly deploy applications and change, update, and have multiple people use them. This is where virtualization comes in. It’s important to keep everything running. That’s where we’ve evolved to the solution that is simple, protected, and autonomous.”

– John Fryer, Senior Director, Industry Solutions, Stratus Technologies

The computer infrastructure needs to be simple to operate, because it may be in a remote location where you don’t have IT expertise available. Protection comes in terms of tamper-proofing or tamper detection features. In addition, it’s got to have built-in cybersecurity capabilities. Similarly, it must run autonomously and take care of itself. This means you will have a redundant architecture that is self-monitoring. One that will let you know if it thinks there’s a problem. But in the meantime, it will be reliably running.

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Elegant Solutions that Work and are Extremely Reliable

This is what we provide at Stratus Technologies and AVEVA – solutions that are easy to use, compared to our incredibly complex competitors. For more than ten years, Stratus and AVEVA have offered an ecosystem of hardware and software platforms for transportation customers going through Digital Transformation. Today, the two companies are working together to bring AVEVA’s Edge to Enterprise initiative and the benefits of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and advanced analytics to industrial companies worldwide.

“We are excited to continue to work closely with AVEVA to deliver operational advantages at the edge for industrial companies. Building on our work with AVEVA for more than a decade, we are developing unique solutions for specific needs in industrial environments. Together, we are providing edge solutions that make the journey towards digitization seamless for end-users.”

– Jason Dietrich, Chief Revenue Officer at Stratus

The alignment of trustworthiness and sustainable high performance are the two common value points between AVEVA and Stratus Technologies – and this is the unique advantage we provide our customers.

Please attend the AVEVA World Conference North America this coming November 11-14, 2019. Visit us at the EXPO and find out how we can accelerate your technical innovation and transform your team’s future by helping you in your Digital Transformation journey.

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