Our DNA is rooted in system integration – linking disparate equipment and systems to provide a single coherent control system and user interface. AIS specialises in making things work together and taking the responsibility for doing so.
Within this remit we deliver a range of services, each focussed on meeting our clients’ specific requirements.
We design and develop SIL rated safety systems in accordance with EN 61508 and the equivalent Rail Standard EN51028 and associated standards.
We also develop software and build systems using SIL rated products. Functional safety systems – delivered.
- SIL Determination
- Software Safety Plan
- Reliability Assessments and Reports
- Safety User Interface prototyping – using ‘Teach Back’
- SIL Verification
- Safety System Maintenance – maintaining the safety rating – see the Maintenance section below.
Consulting & Design
Before a system integration project takes place specifications are required. This is where our practical experience of system integration works for our clients. We understand systems which means we can therefore build specifications that can be delivered.
- Requirements specifications – understanding and expressing the business need
- Functional specifications – that detail the how systems will operate and meet requirements
- Prototyping – User interface design to identify requirements and provide visualisations
- Detailed specifications – to identify the nuts and bolts of the system – to meet the requirements of a RIBA 5 design package.
Read an example of our early involvement on a major project for Dartford Crossing and the benefits this produced for our customer, Connect Plus Services – article.
Software & SCADA Development
Wherever possible we base the systems we develop on standard, well proven software products. In particular, we are a Siemens Solution Partner and use many of their standard hardware and software products – although we are not limited by them.
We have also written and support our own SCADA toolset – SFW – which we tend to use for higher speed data applications and more specialist system development that involves a significant element of bespoke development.
SCADA software is the primary tool for system integration and we have extensive experience of writing interface software as well as developing networks to link systems, acquire the required data and provide the necessary control.
Our approvals demonstrate the quality of our software development facility – as we are approved under the TicKIT plus programme of IT excellence – learn more about TicKIT.
System Integration – Main Contractor – Principle Contractor
If software is the primary tool of system integration, then specification, procurement and sub-contract management are the core functions that will deliver integrated systems.
AIS can operate as the Systems Integrator and manage the entire project from specification through development to delivery and maintenance. Equally, where there is a requirement to bring together different equipment suppliers and sub-contractors. we can also adopt the role of either the Main or Principal Contractor.
Main contractor for QEII Bridge project
During a recent project for Connect Plus Services – the design and build of a structural health monitoring system for the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford – AIS were appointed as the main contractor and worked with the consultant – COWI – to write a tender specification for the design, build and fitting of the specialist sensors required.
As part of this, AIS sub-contracted the selected company and then operated as the main contractor and system integrator for the entire package.
Panel Design, Build and Installation
Wherever there is software, there is hardware too. AIS can take responsibility for designing the equipment and electrical distribution panels and installing them prior to commissioning. We work with a number of specialist sub-contractors who install equipment – both electrically and mechanically – including power and signal cabling, to the field equipment.
Maintenance & Safety Maintenance
From simple break-fix support to 24×7 contracts with a four hour response time, we provide maintenance services for the equipment that we install.
As part of the system build, we can install a firewall into the network from which only we can gain access for remote support. Subsequently, the significant majority of issues that occur with systems can be solved directly by AIS providing remote support to the local maintenance team.
Safety System Maintenance – A Proactive Approach
Safety Maintenance is worth a special mention because experience shows that safety systems once delivered do not maintain the SIL rating if they are not properly maintained. This includes human operators as well.
It isn’t enough to assume a safety system is working and to only attend to it if it reports a fault or an alarm. Maintaining a safety system means proving positively that it is operational. Regular end to end functional testing is required and AIS works with the system users to ensure this happens and regularly audits to ensure tests are being completed.
Persistent alarms and faults on the systems are neither accepted nor acceptable. They lead to complacency over time and can mask real problems. The root cause of the alarm or fault is determined and a plan of action to resolve the issue is put in place. Regular maintenance meetings are held to progress the action plan – a programme of continuous review – and where possible, improvement.