Milestone for TSL-ESCHA with one million hand rail buttons sold.

According to the “Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen” (VDV = Association of German Transport Companies), around 33,000 public transport buses are currently on the roads in Germany. And in many of them the HST series hand rail buttons from TSL-ESCHA are installed. At the beginning of March, the one millionth HST left the production facilities in Halver in North Rhine-Westphalia. All over the world, TSL products travel on buses and trains. And since 2004, so do the hand rail buttons are on board.

The HST product series was created at the suggestion of a sales manager. He wanted to expand the portfolio of the TSG series (door control unit). With the TSG, the passenger can usually open the doors himself by using the push button, after the driver has released the doors for opening.  While the TSG models convince with their robust metal housing as well as a large backlit display area, the HST was to be a uncomplicated and stable push button with a simple normally open contact for signaling the stop request. “Our idea was to offer a product with a large touch surface and an appealing design. In addition, it should be possible to easily exchange existing products as well as feel an improvement in quality for passengers,” says Technical Manager Klaus-Peter Schmauch, who has been with the company for more than 30 years.

Large variety of pictographs and colors

During development, TSL paid great attention to the pictograph under the touch surface. “It is important to us that the pictograph is protected against wear and destruction. Because in the past, schoolchildren, for example, liked to peel off pictographs. We have solved this problem,” explains Schmauch. The inscriptions and pictographs are protected by a scratch-resistant, transparent plastic cover. This ensures consistently good visibility of the pictograph and prevents fading. By selecting a high-quality plastic for the colored housings, the minimum contrast value required from the EN 16584-1:2017 standard is also met permanently.

The variety of pictographs and the range of housing colors is unique. TSL offers variants for different hand rail diameters as well as for elliptical hand rails for transverse mounting. For horizontally mounted hand rails, primarily on luggage racks, there is a corresponding selection of pictographs in landscape format. Tactile symbols and Braille on the touch surfaces help persons who are visually impaired. A flat variant of the HST is perfectly suited for wall panel mounting.

Keeping up with the times through product developments

TSL’s hand rail buttons have enjoyed great popularity over the past 15 years, as reflected in the more than one million models sold. The fact that TSL was always on the cutting edge thanks to further developments also contributed to this. In 2015, for example, the HST was given an illuminated touch surface. The HSTI makes it easier for persons with reduced mobility to orientate themselves visually and also provides visual feedback with the two-color illuminated display. In 2018 was the introduction of an additional cover housing as a touch protection. This surrounds the touch surface to prevent accidental contact.

In 2019, TSL brought an innovation: a hand rail button with haptic feedback through vibration. The HSTIV was designed with vibration mechanism for a customer project in Scandinavia. When the passenger presses the touch button, he receives direct feedback from the vibrating touch surface. This TSL solution is currently unique on the market. This additional tactile feedback is intended to offer passengers who are visually impaired more comfort and safety when using buses and trains. There are already many HSTIVs in use in various buses and trams worldwide. And the trend is rising.

Great potential in the bus market

The bus market is growing worldwide. This is also due to the fact that electric and emission-free city buses are on the rise. According to the VDV, around 400 electric buses are in operation in Germany, with another 750 on order. By 2020, there were already 500,000 e-buses on the roads worldwide. By 2040, their share of the global bus fleet will rise to more than 67 percent. At least, that’s the forecast in the publication “Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020” by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a global leader in business and financial information and -news. TSL products are in use in vehicles around the world. “This segment remains a growing market and I see  good chances that we will continue to our success,” says Klaus-Peter Schmauch.

After all, the big advantage of the HST series hand rail button is their long-term protection and long service life thanks to a robust housing and compact construction type. TSL-ESCHA is known in the market to manufacture bespoke solutions to fulfil customer requests. This includes not only the new development of the HSTIV with a small vibration motor, but also, for example, another project for a transport company in Northern Europe. For this, TSL manufactured an HST with a customer-specific, special tactile symbol on the touch surface and the pictograph was also in customer colors. TSL develops, manufactures and distributes customized solutions. One million hand rail buttons sold are another milestone in the 35-year company history of TSL-ESCHA, of which the employees are very proud.

Product Highlights HST

  • Hand rail buttons in various designs and mounting shapes
  • Large selection of colors, texts and pictographs
  • Tactile symbols and Braille on the touch surfaces help passengers who are visually impaired
  • Easy to press thanks to large touch button
  • Optional selection of illumination, touch protection or vibration feedback
  • Complies with the current standards for rail vehicles (TSI-PRM, EN 50155 and EN 61373)
  • Complies with the minimum contrast value according to EN 16584-1:2017