Imagine you are on the road, on your way to spend a relaxing day at the beach or in the mountains when all traffic slowly stops, and the electronic highway signage displays a message about reduced speed limits and road construction ahead. Such complex display systems are known as Variable Message Signs (VMS), and while they are extremely useful in providing information, their accuracy and their consequently safe functioning is crucial in ensuring a safe flow of traffic, so that everyone can get to their destination safe and sound.
Variable Message Signs (VMS) are used for managing traffic and providing timely information in a variety of scenarios. They are observed from a great distance on highways where they provide lane or tunnel information, or they are implemented to assist with maintaining safe traffic conditions in urban areas. They can also be found at tollgates, customs checkpoints, or inside large parking facilities.
These complex display systems are built with high quality, high luminosity, energy efficient LEDs, which ensure their legibility from long and short distances, and in various lighting conditions such as bright, cloudy or rainy days, as well as at night time. Most VMS also have a built-in operating system which enables data exchange capabilities and a connection to traffic management systems – this is how the signs can be controlled remotely. Operating systems can/may also facilitate the VMS’ functioning status reporting capacity, diagnosis and error messaging.
It is exceptionally important for the general population that the messages being displayed are correct and well-timed, otherwise drivers and their passengers might be wrongly redirected, unnecessarily delayed - or worse - accidents could occur because of unmarked construction areas or incorrect speed limits being shown.
Testing the light at the end of the tunnel
In the EU, governments are ensuring that construction products like VMS systems are safe for the public, by enforcing compliance with Regulation 305/2011 (CPR). For VMS systems this is further specified in the European Standard EN 12966-1 Vertical road signs—Part 1: Variable message signs.
According to the scope of these regulations, VMS systems need to undergo rigorous testing procedures to ensure the integrity of their visual, structural and environmental performance. The process covers two ranges of tests: optical performance, which includes testing for luminance ratio, colour, uniformity; and physical to check correct functioning after exposure to water/dust ingress, vibration, impact, and temperature cycling.
Because of the high costs involved in purchasing (CAPEX), installing and maintaining such systems (OPEX), it is important that they are built with eco-design methods, and that their longevity is taken into account starting from the design phase.
To ensure that people on the road and in environments that use VMSs are safe and bankable globally, manufacturers and employers of VMS systems need to confirm that the systems themselves, data links and control centres have been thoroughly tested and function as intended.
Independent expertise for yours VMS systems
SGS’s team of experts in VMS can assist both manufacturers and VMS clients with planning and carrying out validation testing and certification for variable message signs. SGS can also offer guidance with product development to ensure VMS systems are correctly designed right from the start.
For more information on VMS-related services please contact:
Business Development Manager
SGS INTRON B.V.
t: +31 622 497 196