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 helps Invensys Rail with Verification & Validation of Data for Upgraded Control Centre in Germany

Zircon helps Invensys Rail with Verification & Validation of Data for Upgraded Control Centre in Germany

Zircon helps Invensys Rail with Verification & Validation of Data for Upgraded Control Centre in Germany

Operating Systems: Windows NT
Methodologies: V Model
Other: BS EN 50128 (SIL2)
When Invensys Rail was commissioned to handle a line upgrade project by German rail company Deutsche Bahn AG they asked Zircon to undertake the verification and validation aspects of the job. Despite a number of challenges everything was successfully completed and implemented on time, and Invensys Rail was full of praise for the way the Zircon approached this awkward task.
Background to The Project
When the rail system around the small town of Plön needed upgrading Invensys Rail was awarded the contract. Project Manager Vince Dade comments that “We worked on the original implementation in 2004, so it
made sense to use us again.”

The upgrade involved changes to four stations, including the one at Plön, as well as alterations to the configuration of routes and signals, plus upgrades to several level crossings. Zircon was asked to undertake the verification and validation of the configuration data used by the control centre.

The Challenge
“Verification and validation procedures are always extremely thorough and rigorous” continues Vince, “but that’s especially true in Germany. Their routines are extraordinarily strict, the documentation is incredibly detailed, then everything is checked again by an independent assessor, which in this case was TÜV. Everything must conform precisely to the prescribed way of doing things, to their protocols. One tiny thing out of line and it’s rejected, which means you don’t commission on time.”

“We didn’t have all the necessary specialist resources in-house”, explains Vince. “Some members of the Zircon team were heavily involved in the original project back in 2004. They had the background, and the knowledge – they were familiar with the verification paths, so we had no hesitation in asking them to assist us again.”

“There was also a major issue with this system – the equipment was very old. With the base station we were looking at a system that was Windows NT based, so getting the drivers for the hardware was extremely difficult.”

“They weren’t aggressive with variations. When additional work was required, they were very fair about it.”

Vince Dade

Project Manager, Invensys Rail

The Solution
Zircon engineers therefore performed all the static correspondence testing, dynamic data testing and dynamic regression testing to ensure that every single modification of the data was properly verified and validated in time for deployment and commissioning.

A Zircon engineer also went to Germany and supported the Invensys team during the commissioning. This involved performing the upgrade to the control centre software and also carrying out a number of reliability tests during engineering hours.

“They weren’t aggressive with variations. When additional work was required, they were very fair about it.”

Vince Dade

Project Manager, Invensys Rail

The Results
The project was successfully commissioned on time, despite the challenges. “Having been involved earlier the guys at Zircon knew exactly what was required” comments Vince, “but I was particularly impressed by the fact they were proactive and on top of what was going on. They didn’t just sit back waiting…they were very good at driving things forward, letting us know exactly where we were, what information they needed to know next. And if there was anything they could do to help us improve our performance as an organisation, they were very quick to tell us about that, and I like that kind of approach.”

“Communication was excellent – we had very good contact with them and saw a couple of their key people on a regular basis. The issue of getting the drivers for the hardware was very tricky, but they cracked it…they coped very well.”

Vince emphasises that “On a project of this nature you are always coming across surprises and snags you couldn’t have anticipated. They were very reasonable when that happened… they weren’t aggressive with variations. When situations like this occurred, and additional work was required, they were very fair about it, and didn’t make life difficult for us. They are just a good bunch of guys who just get on with it, and sort problems out…they don’t create more problems!

“The issue of getting the drivers for the hardware was very tricky, but they cracked it… they coped very well.”

Vince Dade

Project Manager, Invensys Rail

Conclusion
Asked whether he would use them again Vince has no hesitation. “Yes, most definitely. This was just phase 1 of a two part project, and we’re planning to use them for phase 2.”

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