Case studies

On the right track: the railway geofencing wearables that save lives

Tended, UK wearables company is redefining worker safety with centimeter-level accuracy GNSS.

A bird's eye view of railway construction workers wearing high-visibility jackets walking next to an open rail track

The fast-paced environment of rail construction and maintenance poses unique hazards for workers. When operating in close proximity to open train tracks, with trains hurtling at 125mph, misinterpretation or miscommunication of safety instructions can cost lives. 

Recognizing the urgent need for a technological intervention, wearable technology experts, Tended, have joined forces with u-blox to revolutionize safety protocols in the rail industry. 

Powered by centimeter-level accuracy GNSS, Tended’s solution isn’t just about safety - it's about making railway projects and maintenance more efficient, cost-effective, and ultimately, saving both lives and resources. 

Connect with us today to find out more about this case study and our high precision GNSS product range.

Challenge #1: Keeping workers safe by eliminating miscommunication and human error 

Loss of situational awareness is often cited as a leading cause of near misses and fatalities in the railway industry. 

Traditional safety management relies on paper-based diagrams and physical barriers, which can be expensive, time-consuming to set up, and ultimately, unreliable. 

Marker boards are commonly used to signify workers on a track, but human error, fatigue, and distraction can lead to their placement in the wrong location, potentially placing workers on the wrong rail line or an open track.  

This puts them at an alarming risk of being struck by or having to hastily evade an oncoming train, traveling at high speeds. 

Challenge #2: Reliable, fast and accurate asset tracking  

The current approach to asset management and tracking in the rail industry is still largely manual. You can find worksite representation plans outlined on whiteboards in a nearby cabin, with magnets attached to track asset locations.  

This current manual system poses a substantial risk of human error, as critical information on the board can be lost or misplaced. In instances where assets need to be located, workers resort to physically walking around the site with handheld radios, an arduous and time-consuming process, susceptible to miscommunication and incorrect location feedback. 

Delays and communication breakdowns often occur when vehicles and plant reach set locations and must wait for permission to proceed. Historically, this has led to radio exchanges between supervisors and workers managing asset positions, introducing unnecessary complexities and potential inaccuracies.  

Examples from the past highlight the severe consequences of assets being in the wrong location or line, resulting in accidents, injuries, and even fatalities due to premature line openings. 

The solution: Creating virtual safety boundaries for real-life occupational hazards   

Tended's flagship product is their geofencing wearable. The device has introduced streamlined communication and precise asset tracking capabilities.  

Leveraging u-blox's ZED-F9P module, Tended’s wearables provide a real-time geofencing solution that not only protects track workers during construction and maintenance, but also safeguards valuable assets. 

The solution creates highly accurate virtual boundaries over safe work zones with an accompanying wearable that alerts workers in real time if they cross these boundaries, thereby preventing accidents and ensuring the safety of both workers and assets. 

A close-up of Tended's geofencing wearable device attached to a railway worker's sleeve

The ZED-F9P module's presence in every Tended device ensures a low-power and affordable geofencing solution demonstrating centimeter-level accuracy. By incorporating this technology into their wearables, Tended has effectively addressed the challenges of maintaining situational awareness in a dynamic and potentially hazardous work environment.

Tended's decision to use u-blox's ZED-F9P module was driven by its unparalleled accuracy, quick setup times, and minimal infrastructure requirements.

“The ZED-F9P is best in class in terms of positioning accuracy. We’ve seen a median reported accuracy in the region of about 20 millimeters. It’s working fantastically.”  

- Alex Ford, Head of Engineering, Tended


Unlike alternative technologies such as UWB, RF, or Bluetooth, which would necessitate extensive on-site infrastructure, the GNSS-based solution offered by u-blox enables rapid deployment. The ZED-F9P module provides a unique balance between time and positioning accuracy, with quick recovery times in challenging environments, such as under bridges or in noisy, heavily obstructed areas. 

While Tended initially focused on the rail industry, the company recognizes the broader applications of its geofencing solution. The technology is not limited to railways but can be extended to other high-risk industries such as construction sites and utility management.

Outcome #1: Cost and lifesaving benefits 

  • Minimal workers’ suffering, stress, and trauma related to occupational injuries. 

  • Substantial cost savings for clients and national health services due to improved safety and accident prevention measures. 

Outcome #2: Elevating worker safety and efficiency 

  • Significant reduction in workplace incidents and near misses due to heightened safety and efficiency in rail projects. 

  • Real-time visibility and control of assets, including marker boards and vehicles, ensuring correct placement of protective equipment. 

  • Reduced reliance on two-way communication for operator locations, contributing to more reliable project planning. 

  • Fast convergence time enables swift deployment on-site and in new locations, enhancing efficiency. 

“It’s the easiest module that we have on board to work with, even though it has to be one of the most complex.”  

- Alex Ford, Head of Engineering, Tended

Outcome #3: Effortless set-up and safety standard compliance 

  • Tangible real-life results: wearables were implemented during a 96-hour blockade from 23rd – 26th December in Hertfordshire, England. Tended’s client Siemens utilized 70 wearables to help ensure track worker safety, with a further 25 devices used to provide complete visibility of their onsite RRVs. 

  • ZED-F9P's fast navigation update rates provide versatility for diverse applications in pedestrian and automotive contexts. 

  • Broad range of supported protocols and interfaces, offering flexibility for rapid iteration and enhancement of geofencing wearables. 

  • Worksite compliance with UK’s Network Rail safety standards.  

  • A centralized platform for supervisors to validate asset positioning. 

“The reason we’re staying with u-blox is that the ZED-F9P is exceptionally reliable. There’s a community thanks to your network that supports the development and the creation of the product.”  

- Alex Ford, Head of Engineering, Tended

Connect with us today to find out more about this case study and our high precision GNSS product range.

Moving forward 

Tended's partnership with u-blox represents a milestone in enhancing safety and efficiency in the rail industry.  

The geofencing solution not only meets the specific needs of the rail industry but also lays the foundation for expansion into other high-risk sectors in the future. 

As Tended continues to evolve their product offerings, the collaboration with u-blox reaffirms their commitment to innovation and the pursuit of safer work environments across industries. 

“We found that u-blox was much further ahead than their competition in terms of availability of documentation, support, and of course, the maturity of the technology itself.” 

- Alex Ford, Head of Engineering, Tended