The provider of infra-red (IR) based toll collection system, EFKON Asia Sdn Bhd, has stated that IR technology can help speed up the implementation of a multi-lane free flow (MLFF) toll system and reduce congestion at toll plazas. EFKON Asia is a subsidiary of EFKON GmbH, Austria, which specialises in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), enforcement and traffic telematic solutions. EFKON has over 20 years of experience in electronic tolling and electronic transportation systems, having implemented systems in Europe, South Africa, India, Ireland and Malaysia. You would have used their technology if you are a SmartTAG user.
According to EFKON Asia director Helmuth Blasch, our current toll system, which uses the Touch ‘n Go card system, and complemented by the SmartTAG module, has a combined user base of 5 million. Blasch also mentioned that in this year alone, around 75% of the 270,000 new passenger cars and commercial vehicles registered in Peninsular Malaysia (until September 2021) were delivered with either a SmartTAG compatible built-in toll reader or portable device.
“Coupled with continuous product upgrades that has significantly improved the system’s reliability and user experience, it is the ideal and much more advanced staging point to achieve the congestion-free highway objective outlined in the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Blueprint compared to the fledgling Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) payment system,” he added. “This is a clear indication that the IR system continues to enjoy the confidence of top vehicle manufacturers, retailers and owners and has proven its worth as an efficient, convenient and cost-effective cashless toll collection system”. The SmartTAG IR toll collection system has been around since 2005.
EFKON is sharing its opinion following the recent announcement by the Works Ministry of Malaysia (KKM) of the implementation of RFID on highways. Obviously, highway users would prefer convenience, reliability and good user experience. Thus, Blasch is of the opinion that the authorities and highway concessionaires should look at increasing rather than reducing SmartTAG lanes if the objective was to reduce congestion at toll plazas.
“In Germany, the Nationwide Truck Tolling System installed on all highways in a Multi-Lane Free Flow (MLFF) configuration has proven to be highly effective, catering to more than 2 million trucks travelling at up to 100 km/h. It uses a similar IR technology, like in Malaysia, to validate payment. We have also successfully replicated this test in Malaysia. Our SmartTAG compatible units comply with DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communication) standards and are ECE R10 certified. They operate in the 400 THz band and, therefore, able to transfer data 10,000 times faster than RFID. Being battery-powered, every unit is active with a wake-up time of just 2 milliseconds compared to the passive RFID’s 45 milliseconds,” he explained.
EFKON Asia has been working closely with local manufacturers of SmartTAG compatible devices to continuously introduce upgrades and improve user experience.
“For consumers, SmartTAG compatible built-in toll readers are directly powered by car batteries while portable units such as the MaxTAG now come with a powerful and long-lasting rechargeable 1,000 mAh battery and USB port for easy charging in the car to ensure availability at all times. For highway concessionaires, we are now offering new lane side antennas at subsidised cost to upgrade the performance of SmartTAG lanes to ensure smoother traffic flow,” he added. “In Q1/2022, we will be moving towards digitalisation by enabling Bluetooth connection between our devices and smartphones and car media systems. Connection to an e-wallet for easy top-ups will also be possible”.
For more information on the IR system, visit www.efkon.com.