Just a few days ago, a new, sophisticated security system made its debut in the Mont Blanc Tunnel—with an Italian company to thank for it. Thus concluded a process that began tragically on March 24th, 1999, when 39 people died in a horrific fire.
In late January, Giordano&C. software (a family firm founded in 1924, based in Boves, Cuneo, with 160 employees and €30 million in annual turnover) inaugurated one of the most sophisticated control mechanisms in the world, in an 11.6-kilometer-long (7.2 miles) road tunnel.
The Mont Blanc Tunnel’s European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) awarded the contract to Giordano (a roughly €4 million investment) for a job that has featured a staff of around ten specialists on site every day since 2012. Over these past few years, they have conducted more than a million tests and assembled both Italian and French security forces.
The monitoring system is called “LOGOS” (an acronym meaning “Localiser Organiser et Gérer les Opérations de Sécurité”, or rather, “Localize, Organize, and Manage Security Operations”). Everything is coordinated at the command center: from the road signs, to the provisions for eventual construction or accidents (of any nature), to ventilation equipment; from smoke/dust detection sensors to fire extinguisher management; from radio communications to thermographic sensors, to the ability to automatically send alarms calls once dangerous events are detected.
LOGOS compares more than 36,000 pieces of information 24/7, and automatically reacts in case of fire; for example, it can send out monorail shuttles to evacuate people, and create a vortex of currents strong enough to suffocate the flames.
Giordano has also hired actors and extras (when the tunnel has been closed to traffic) to simulate accidents and evaluate the system’s reactions.
“It has been quite an undertaking,” explains Luigi Giordano, the fourth generation at the helm of the firm (he manages it along with his father, Roberto, and their business partner Giorgio Meinardi), “We were able to successfully conduct the operation by ‘customizing’ software from giants—like Schneider Electric’s Wonderware, with whom we've established an excellent working relationship.”
“Even for us, since we normally create turnkey electromechanical installations and industrial production lines, this has been a real testing ground and an important specialization process. We were also successful due to our flexibility.”
Until June, Giordano’s technicians guarantee 24-hour assistance in the control bunkers on both the Italian and French sides of the mountain. On February 13th, LOGOS will be officially inaugurated at a public ceremony, and RINA will grant them their SIL2 (Safety Integrity Level) certification—which is only granted to extremely-secure nuclear centers. This serves as another guarantee for the users of the Mont Blanc Tunnel: the main objective is to avoid further tragedies.
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