Joining HUBER+SUHNER as an RF Application Engineer in 2015, Antonio has risen through the ranks of the company and now holds the title of Vice President MM S&BD Railway. He has previously worked as a Project Engineer at Alstom Power, and as a Test and Development Engineer at RUAG Space.
How did you get started in the industry?
My journey in the railway industry started in Portugal with a three years electro-mechanics apprenticeship from 1994 to 1997, together with the train operator CP Portugal. I then joined HUBER+SUHNER in February 2015.
How did you start at HUBER+SUHNER and what is your role within the company?
I started at HUBER+SUHNER in February 2015 as an application engineer for the Aerospace & Defence Market. Now I lead the railway market strategy and business development for North & South America. In my day-to-day business, I maintain a strong customer engagement, support our sales force, attend market related events and scout the industry for new technologies as well as new partners.
Tell us about your career before you joined HUBER+SUHNER
After completing my education in Portugal, I moved to England where I spent eight years in the electronics manufacturing industry as an assembly technician and test engineer. Prior to moving to Germany, I was working for Airbus Space UK as a test engineer working on communication satellites. While living in Germany and still with Airbus Space I held the A.I.T (Assembly, Integration, Testing) responsibility for scientific payloads for the Space Station. In 2009 my career path shifted to Switzerland where I spent a few more years in the aerospace industry until joining HUBER+SUHNER in February 2015.
What challenges have you faced in the industry?
Industrial competition is always tough but exciting at the same time. Presenting and pushing new disruptive technologies into the industry can be very challenging.
What success have you experienced in the last twelve months and how do you measure success?
My family and I moved to the US during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we’ve been able to watch our children flourish in their new home/environment. This also meant supporting my wife as she returned to work after being a stay-at-home mum for 14 years. I have made new friends in the industry, winning new projects, strengthening HUBER+SUHNER presence in the Americas and laying the path for future successes.
Success is not always measured with a $ sign: watching the industry adapting to new ways and technologies can also be considered as a success.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of later generations to meet their own in the future. In addition, we also need personal and professional social sustainability to maintain a healthy way of living.
How has technology developed since you started in the industry?
Technology in the railway industry has been growing steadily over the last ten years. From the implementation of the first generation of onboard passenger Wi-Fi systems to the integration of safety related and monitoring systems. Now, more than ever, the arrival of 5G in the industry is enabling further innovations and digitalisation, such as artificial intelligence and communication systems. These can now coexist within one digital ecosystem, and I look forward to seeing future developments in this industry going forward.
How long has your company been in business and what types of products and services do you offer?
HUBER+SUHNER has been in business since 1969. Our products deliver high performance, quality, reliability and a long service life – even under the toughest of conditions. We offer our customers around the globe outstanding products and services for their electrical and optical connectivity needs. We focus on the three main markets: industrial, communication and transportation. These are addressed with applications from crucial technologies such as radio frequency, fiber optics and low frequency.
What are some major projects you’re currently working on?
We are currently working on some projects devised to support the modernization and digitalisation of the railway industry in North America. We hope to share some of the details with you all soon!
What are some standout projects you’ve been involved in over the years?
There are far too many to mention! But I’m proud of the impact HUBER+SUHNER has had through our projects across the globe. Be it the implementation of passenger Wi-Fi on board the TGV high speed trains in France, onboard fiber optics to a CBTC System in Brazil or an onboard passenger entertainment system in the Czech Republic, our solutions are making a difference to both operators and commuters. I’d also like to mention the implementation of a passenger information system in Peru, which was another great success.
What types of companies do you collaborate on projects with?
HUBER+SUHNER is a trusted supplier and holds a strong engagement with international train builders, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators. As part of my day-to-day business, I tend to collaborate with any company that has a need for a specific application and where a HUBER+SUHNER product can facilitate the end result.
What would you say is the most exciting technology in the industry?
I’m not sure I can name just one, but 5G in particular is very exciting and is already proving to be a strong technology enabler for the ongoing industry revolution.
What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the rail industry?
There are always common issues regarding supply chains and funding, but there can also be hesitancy within the industry to accept new technologies. I would say retaining a strong workforce is essential in overcoming these, but maintaining one is a challenge within itself.
What are your hopes for the new regulatory bodies, such as Great British Railways?
For newer bodies, the goal should be to watch, learn, cooperate with the similar bodies around the world, then unify/ standardise. This will go some way to accelerating future developments within the rail industry.
What are your views on collaborative working?
I think that this is key for anything that we do in our daily business. Whether we’re talking about an internal collaboration or a customer collaboration, we always need to work as a team to achieve our goals, financial or otherwise.
In terms of technology, how do you anticipate things might change in the next five to ten years?
We are currently experiencing a digital revolution in the railway industry. At the rate of innovation we are currently seeing, within the next five to ten years I expect that we will see a more efficient and green industry, and a preferred way of transportation.
How are trackside technologies benefiting rail operators and their customers?
Trackside technologies are playing a crucial role in the collection and transmission of data so essential to control centres and stations. Conditional data provided from train to trackside are being used by operators to detect and repair malfunctioning or disrupted trains. This is enabling a reduction in operational costs, as it allows condition-based maintenance to take place. Data provided by these devices is also providing real-time updates for CCTV cameras, passenger information systems (PIS) and ticketing systems found within the stations. Not only does this help establish safer, efficient services but also improves customer and staff satisfaction, as they gain a greater understanding of the effects on a schedule.
Why is CBTC so important to the railway industry?
Communication based train control (CBTC) and other digital systems are essential in supporting train-to- ground applications. No matter if it’s a metro, underground, regional and intercity railway, train control can be used to efficiently condense transportation cycles, whilst increasing track capacity and reducing any significant gaps in service for commuters. This has only grown in significance with the increasing digitalisation of the industry.
Which HUBER+SUHNER solutions are key to supporting the ongoing revolution?
It would be easier to advise which are not! Ever since the portfolio was first developed, the SENCITY® Rail antennas have been supporting operators in meeting the special requirements needed for all elements of their network. Antennas such as the SENCITY® Rail ACTIVE Rooftop, SENCITY® Rail and SENCITY® Rail MIMO+ all provide a solution suitable for high current and high voltage applications. We designed these with digital train control systems in mind, so the portfolio establishes reliable connections, whether WLAN, GPS or cellular, to make sure rapid and accurate transmission of data from the train or trackside can be achieved.
For trackside and metro applications where high data transfer rates are crucial, the SENCITY® SPOT antenna portfolio supports Wi-Fi 6E bands, coming in a range of sizes and types to suit our customer’s needs. Within a tunnel, CBTC Yagi Antennas enable stable communication between train to station and ensure customers and staff can stay informed of any essential updates.
How are trackside and rail technologies being supported through fiber?
There is no doubt rail systems have and will continue to become more sophisticated. That’s why our cables and cable systems are designed to be ‘future ready’, with pre-assembled, ready to connect fiber solutions to serve the rapid and safe installation of connections both within the train and by the trackside. Fiber optic technologies are the best option when it comes to transmitting data quickly, supporting the antennas to put it in the hands of rail staff, control centre operators and the commuters themselves. All our cables comply with the latest rail and fire safety regulations, so our customers know they are safe, robust and won’t let them down.