Cosworth Technology based in Novi, Michigan, has developed a new data-recording device, which could save transport companies thousands of pounds.

The unique thing about the i3000 system is that it is modular and flexible. The one motherboard can be fitted with a number of different circuit boards, providing a record of data, which can be tailored to suit individual clients and different transit vehicles, whether it's a train, bus or truck.

Joe Dandy, Account Manager for the i3000 progamme, said: "The project began when we developed a data recorder for a specific client to use on their vehicles. This worked so well that other customers came to us asking if we could make it for them. That's when we hit upon the idea of building all this flexibility into the one system - the i3000. It is completely re-useable and re-configurable."

Benefits gained from the system depend on exactly what application and modules are used in the i3000, but the potential is almost limitless. A variety of sensors are able to register a range of inputs, anything from engine performance and the fuel system to the use of the farebox to how many times the hydraulic door is opening on a particular route! It can also send and receive data from remote locations.

The i3000 recorder itself uses software called VAT - or, Visual Authoring Tool, which uses icons to allow i3000 to be used without the need for computer programming experience. Cosworth Technology has also worked with Spear Technology and Telxon who offer asset and fleet management software to develop a full range of uses for i3000.

The use of i3000 with such software provides a 'predicted diagnostic' capability. This means that vital transport vehicles would spend less time off the road due to mechanical malfunctions, also resulting in a smaller spare part inventory for the transit companies.

Eventually transit fleets could optimise their business and buy smaller fleets of vehicles to provide the same level of service.

The i3000 system is currently being used by transit companies in the USA.

Dandy said: "With the influx of digital equipment, such as fareboxes, cameras, Global Positioning Systems, engine management systems and the like, transit authorities are beginning to experience a shortage of qualified experts to analyse the problems. The i3000 in combination with VAT can become a platform to manage all these things with a single interface. We are confident that the i3000 can offer transit companies some very significant advantages. "