Vertex Systems Engineering (Vertex) has been assisting Amey Consulting with the provision of Product Acceptance support services for the introduction on the UK Rail network, Hima-Sella ‘HiMatrix’ Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).
Standard industrial PLCs are in use within European Railways for both level crossing control, train warning systems and as small distributed interlockings. They are also in use within the UK for bespoke monitoring solutions. The PLC is a Commercial Of The Shelf (COTS) product that meets Network Rail aims for the Digital Railway and are used by many other comparative industries that require a high level of safety integrity and high availability e.g. in petrochemicals. As part of the Level Crossing Framework, Network Rail requires the supply base to provide solutions to modernise the control of level crossings as well as associated machine, boom and road indications. Amey Consulting wish to offer a PLC solution as part of its framework and for that purpose they have formed a partnership with Hima-Sella who is a leading PLC manufacturer for the railway industry.
Hima-Sella product ‘HiMatrix’ is at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 9 and in use by some European operators that are comparable to Network Rail. Vertex will utilise a cross acceptance approach to demonstrate how HiMatrix meets the requirements for use in the UK, effectively undertaking the TRL level 6 to 9 stages.
Vertex was approached by Amey Consulting due to Vertex’s wealth of experience assisting asset owners, suppliers and assessors with the task of approving products for use in environments that require a level of Safety Integrity, SIL 0 to 4. As vertex is independent of any asset owner, operator or equipment supplier it can take an impartial view and therefore provide an assessment based on the merits of the product or the benefit of application of a product to address a user’s needs. For the transport sector where safety, reliability and availability is a key requirement for the infrastructure operator, Vertex has found that many, often new, product suppliers struggle to meet the acceptance requirements. This often leads to a protracted approvals process that results in higher costs to the supplier and delay in use of the product by the infrastructure operator. Vertex provides a full acceptance package to suppliers and infrastructure operators and has an incomparable record of accomplishment in completing approvals within short timescales.
Completed February 2017.
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