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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Software Simulator Allows For Acceptance Testing of Platform Edge Door Controller

Software Simulator Allows For Acceptance Testing of Platform Edge Door Controller

Software Simulator Allows For Acceptance Testing of Platform Edge Door Controller

Operating Systems: Windows (2000, NT4)
Languages: C++
Zircon’s client had previously been given the responsibility of installing Platform Screen Doors (PSD) at 17 sites along one of the UK’s leading metro lines. At the time of the initial installation our client’s system was only required to accommodate a six-car long train, however provisions were made that would allow the system to accommodate a 7th car if required at a later date.

Inevitably, our client was contracted to provided functionality to the 7th ‘dummy doors’ however, as the integration of seven-car long trains was to be carried out over an extended period of time, both six-car and seven-car set ups would be running at the same time. To ensure passenger safety our client needed to make sure that in situations where a six-car set up was present the 7th set of doors would not open, and vice versa in the presence of a seven-car arrangement.

For the duration of the initial PSD installation project our client maintained a full five-door system at their offices in order to facilitate development and testing. Unfortunately at the time of the second project this set up was no longer available, therefore in order for our client to have the ability to perform acceptance testing on the Platform Edge Door Controller (PEDC) software they required a simulation of the Door Control Units (DCU).

Having worked with Zircon on a number of previous projects our client was confident that we could provide them with a solution that would fulfil their requirements. Zircon’s first task was to develop an initial simulator software design from the specifications provided by the client.

Once the client was happy with the design proposed by Zircon, work could begin on the simulation itself. Zircon’s solution consisted of a PC running software that simulates multiple DCUs. These connect to the serial port on the PEDC using a multi-drop communications protocol. This enables simulation of any number of DCUs, to allow testing of the PEDC, without a full set of platform screen doors and associated hardware.

The initial test of Zircon’s solution made use of a PEDC communications simulator developed by Zircon as part of the development process, however for the acceptance testing process an actual PEDC system, provided by our client, was used.

By having Zircon develop the DCU simulator our client was able to concentrate on the actual PSD software and were able to carry out acceptance testing without the added expense or time that would have been necessary to recreate the original 5-door test rig.

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Looking for a team to support your next Rail software venture?  Zircon is there to help you ensure project success, contact the team today.