Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Methodologies: UML
Software Development Tools: Visio
Our client is a well-known name in the railway signalling sector, developing and maintaining a portfolio of signalling software products. Hoping to introduce a new product into this portfolio, our client discovered that they required additional support in the definition of their requirements.

Knowing that we had previous experience of working with their existing systems, and the capability to collate information regarding various interfaces and data sources, Zircon were initially brought into the project to complete a requirements capture for the new product. Working with each of the stakeholders involved in the development, we organised a series of workshops to gain a clear picture of what the system would be expected to do and how it would be used from which we could outline the requirements.

As this was a complex system, bringing together a variety of different data sources, some of which the client had never used before, we had to investigate and understand each source and the related interfaces. This helped to ensure interoperability of the data sources and that they would be suitable for use with our client’s product.

Having collated the findings from the workshops into a requirements specification, we were asked by the client to provide an estimate of the required resources and potential duration of development. As part of the estimation process we utilised UML to design a viable system architecture from the requirements specification.

With requirements and system architecture in hand, the client was able to commence the development of their new product. By utilising Zircon’s services, the client was able to focus on other important aspects of the project, knowing that we could bring together the various stakeholders and ensure all of their expectations would be captured in the final requirements.

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Zircon’s Advice Secures BS EN 50128 SIL2 Compliance for American Rail Grinding System

Zircon’s Advice Secures BS EN 50128 SIL2 Compliance for American Rail Grinding System

Zircon’s Advice Secures BS EN 50128 SIL2 Compliance for American Rail Grinding System

Other: BS EN 50128 (SIL2)
Our client provides rolling stock engineering solutions to rail networks across the world. They had recently signed a contract with Network Rail to supply a number of their rail grinding systems however, having never dealt with the European market, our client had very limited knowledge of the safety standards expected for equipment being used on the UK rail network.

A requirement of the BS EN 50128 standard dictates that all software must be audited by an independent safety assessor. Knowing of this requirement our client had recruited the services of a railway consultancy. After the assessors’ initial review our client was informed that their processes did not fit the requirements of the EN 50128 standard.

Knowing of Zircon’s extensive experience in this area, the assessor recommended that our client get in contact with Zircon as an organisation that could assist and advise them on how to refine their processes.

Zircon provided our client with some initial consultancy services, to conduct an investigation and review of the existing products and development processes. In order to ascertain the areas preventing our client from achieving the required safety standard, Zircon conducted a gap analysis as part of this review process.

Following the identification of the areas that did not meet the safety standard requirements Zircon provided further assistance to our client, by offering advice on how to improve each of the identified issues. Recognising that Zircon had a wealth of knowledge in regards to the EN 50128 standard, our client invited us to work alongside their team to make the necessary alterations to their processes in order to acquire the desired standard. Zircon were also involved in the preparation and independent review of project documentation, which included component and system test specifications.

Our client’s product has since successfully passed the safety audit and have begun the next stages of the process to introduce their product to the UK rail network.

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Driver Development Introduces Valuable Functionality to Client’s Signalling System

Driver Development Introduces Valuable Functionality to Client’s Signalling System

Driver Development Introduces Valuable Functionality to Client’s Signalling System

Operating Systems: Windows (7)
Languages: C++
Software Development Tools: PRQA, Microsoft Visual Studio
Other: BS EN 50128 (SIL2)
Zircon’s client develops and maintains Rail Signalling control software. One of their products, a signalman’s workstation is used by a number of rail operators around the globe to control signals and points in order to direct trains to their destinations, whilst avoiding route collisions.

Our client routinely makes modifications to the core software, to accommodate the differing operational practises of their clients.  Additional functionality can be added through the development of additional software drivers and Zircon was asked to carry out the development of one such driver.

Our client’s software allows signalling technicians to monitor and control the rail network. Trains are routed by the system and often these routes will use the same set of points. To avoid a collision, once a route has been set for one train then all points along that route are locked until that train has passed through the entire route, thus preventing any other train occupying the track along the route.

However, there are occasions when it is desirable to be able to partially release a route in order to let another train cross over the set route, once that track section has been cleared by the preceding train. Prior to the project, there was no way to override the system to clear a locked point.

Zircon developed a driver that utilised the products existing driver framework to provide the functionality to allow a signalling technician to clear locked points.  It integrated with the products logging and diagnostics facilities to ensure all actions are logged for later analysis. All of the code produced was developed to our clients coding standards and verified using peer review and static analysis.

Upon the projects conclusion, the driver had been successfully integrated and fully tested, including component level testing, to ensure the software met the requirements of EN 50128 SIL2.

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Independent Testing of Software Drivers Provides Supporting Evidence of Safety Standard Compliance

Independent Testing of Software Drivers Provides Supporting Evidence of Safety Standard Compliance

Independent Testing of Software Drivers Provides Supporting Evidence of Safety Standard Compliance

Other: BS EN 50128 (SIL2), Module Testing
Zircon’s client is a household name in the railway signalling industry, and has developed a number of software packages that they continue to alter and improve over time. Additional functionality can be added through the development of additional software drivers. On this occasion our client’s engineers had developed two new drivers which were to be integrated into the core software product.

The core system is safety-related and developed in accordance with the EN 50128 standard to Safety Integrity Level 2 (SIL2), therefore the new drivers themselves were also required to meet EN 50128 SIL2.  The SIL2 process requires that the software being tested must be tested by an individual that had not been a part of its development. Therefore, if our client wanted to keep the entire development process in house they would need to find an engineer that could not be related back to the development process.

Unfortunately for our client, they did not have the internal resources available at the time and took the decision to outsource the work to a third party, with Zircon being selected.  Having worked with Zircon in the past, the client knew that we had the right level of understanding of the SIL2 process, their product line and could rely upon the quality of our engineers.

Once given the software by the client, our engineers took the original requirements and generated a number of tests to ensure that the drivers complied with the original plan and that the core software would not be adversely affected upon integration.  Zircon engineers then carried out testing of the software in accordance with these plans.

Upon the conclusion of the tests, we provided the evidence to our client that the software had met the SIL2 standard and could be distributed to the end user.

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Zircon Applies Video Analytics for RSSB Funded Feasibility Study

Zircon Applies Video Analytics for RSSB Funded Feasibility Study

Zircon Applies Video Analytics for RSSB Remote Condition Monitoring Feasibility Study

Languages: Python
Zircon were awarded funding from the RSSB, who play a major role in improving and regulating the safety of the railway industry, to undertake a feasibility study as part of the RCM program. RSSB had identified ten unresolved challenges that prevent the full implementation of remote condition monitoring on the railway.

Zircon was responsible for investigating a system that would utilise the forward facing CCTV cameras on trains to detect unauthorised human presence within the boundary fence, whilst filtering out authorised human presence. Additionally, our client expressed interest in utilising the train CCTV feeds to identify any significant movement of the objects within the vicinity of the track that may begin to block the passage of rolling stock as well as check the visibility of essential rail side infrastructures.

As a feasibility study, we were called on to examine a high number of variables and potential design problems. For example, the system will be expected to function accurately in a variety of lighting and weather conditions, distinguish the difference between rail workers in high-vis clothing and members of the public who have strayed inside the boundary of the track, and do all this from a moving platform whilst providing accurate position information.

With regards to detecting human incursion, the focus of the study was on our ability to detect human presence in a multitude of different lighting conditions, similar to those experienced on the daily journey of trains, and the ability to identify and differentiate authorised personnel from unauthorised human presence. During testing we found that the probability of detecting people over a variety of contrast and lighting conditions was surprisingly high, and following the inclusion of pre-configurable Hi-Vis parameters the identification of authorised presence was achievable.

Unlike detecting human presence, the ability to detect the movement of objects was slightly more complex and unfamiliar. As there is no way to define what the system should be searching for the techniques used in previous object detection projects we had done would not necessarily be suitable. Our solution for this problem was to generate an ‘interest map’ of the journey landscape in order to compare CCTV footage from train journeys in order to monitor and identify changes in landscape. Our tests found that generating the map itself was easy, however monitoring changes against the map was less so but still possible.

Currently the entirety of the study has been completed off-train without representative CCTV footage, and is awaiting the opportunity for a train mounted trial in order to try and identify real life problems. It is our hope that once this system has been proven, the technology could be utilised to forewarn of further issues which have an impact on the levels of safety and performance of the railway.

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