Published on 30-Sep-2011
"We needed an integrated solution to optimize our process and procedures and provide our developers with the agility they need to respond to changes. This is what IBM Rational provided, from the requirements with DOORS to the code with Rhapsody”" - —Francisco Lozano ERTMS Program Manager
Invensys Rail Dimetronic
Smart Products, Smarter Transportation
The margin of error for railway operators is akin to that of air traffic controllers, and the stakes are just as high. The signaling systems used by these operators to coordinate train movements, speeds and schedules are part of a very select class of industry-specific software solutions - those that must operate with virtually 100 percent reliability or risk significant loss of life. In Spain, for instance, signaling systems control the movements of trains capable of travelling 350 kmph.
Invensys Rail Dimetronic needed to improve its competitiveness and reduce time-to-market for its solutions. This required automating, streamlining and increasing control over development processes.
The company used integrated IBM® Rational® software to automate code generation and speed developers' response to frequent changes and new traffic signal requirements.
The company reduces time-to-market for products by 40 percent and reduces cost and risks of development by generating all code in compliance with coding standards.
With offices in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Brazil and Venezuela, Invensys Rail Dimetronic is a leading provider of trackside and on-board signaling systems worldwide. The company helps define ERTMS standards, which are evolving to adapt to customer needs requiring that signaling systems change as well. Providers, in turn, must maintain a high degree of process agility to ensure that their solutions and, consequently, their customers—railway operators—remain in compliance.
Adapting to unique needs within a standardized environment
The person within Invensys Rail Dimetronic responsible for ERTMS developments is Francisco Lozano, who highlights the challenge of applying general purpose ERTMS standards to individual customers with unique needs.
“As providers, it's important to differentiate our offerings, and that's where innovation and process flexibility becomes important,” says Lozano. “We must ensure that our design can be adapted very quickly, not only to particular customer needs, but to changing ERTMS requirements, at a reasonable cost.”
One benefit of ERTMS to railway operators, interoperability, presents a challenge for railway system providers, who must design products to a common set of standards for a given facet of the signaling system—for instance, standards limiting train speed under certain weather conditions. “Interoperability” requires that products from distinct providers work together. “Our industry is constantly introducing new technologies and solutions,” says Lozano. “It's not uncommon for projects to include software and components that have never been integrated before. This requires us to adapt our processes to projects as they evolve.” To achieve this degree of flexibility, Invensys Rail Dimetronic needed to modernize its application development platform, which was over-reliant on manual processes. The company turned to IBM Software solution and related services to provide an integrated and automated platform for accelerating and reducing the cost and risk of development and documentation. The solution consists of IBM Rational DOORS® for requirements management, Rational Synergy for configuration management, Rational Change for change management, Rational Rhapsody® for modeling and code generation and Rational Publishing Engine for documentation.
Integrating and tracking complex processes
Invensys Rail Dimetronic needed to meet several goals in order to stay competitive and maximize quality. First, its dealings with several international partners made interoperability key. Second was the need to speed up the development process while reducing development cost. Lastly, executives wanted a unified set of tools to automate their processes.
By implementing the IBM Rational solution, Invensys Rail Dimetronic was able to meet these goals, while ensuring public safety through strict adherence to ERTMS standards. The company's approach empowered its development team to quickly model, configure, validate and demonstrate the interoperability of components required for the signaling systems software. The team benefited from finding and correcting errors early—long before deploying its system for public use.
The Rational solution allows Invensys Rail Dimetronic to more easily incorporate system intelligence in its development process. Actual signaling system usage results are used to model system reliability and effectiveness and to highlight areas requiring improvement. As standards or customer needs change, team members can now quickly analyze and evaluate the changes to form a plan of attack.
At any one time, Invensys Rail Dimetronic may run tailored versions of its software for some customers. The development life cycle approach of IBM Rational’s solution, therefore, emerges as a critical benefit, particularly when considering that numerous development teams share responsibility for managing hundreds of thousands of lines of code. To keep track of these overlapping yet autonomous system designs, developers leverage advanced version control and an ability to track changes and generate reports through a web-based interface.
Strict requirements outline the stages of development each rail system provider must follow. Likewise, they define the testing techniques to be used at each stage. All requirements and requirements changes must be tracked. Doing it manually was extremely time-consuming.
“We need to trace development from beginning to end so that at implementation we have a coherent view of the entire process and can assure our customers that the system has been adequately analyzed, tested and documented,” says Francisco Lozano. Seamless integration streamlines a highly iterative, multistage development life cycle.
Invensys Rail Dimetronic now automates end-to-end requirements traceability through a combination of automated requirements management and model-based design. Developers directly link each requirement to their systems analysis and design, ensuring that the decision-making for each requirement can be followed from inception to deployment.
Since the railway industry closely monitors all system software for adherence to safety standards, each requirement and all subsequent changes to the requirement must be accounted for in deployed code. Invensys Rail Dimetronic enhanced its development process based on Rational’s model-driven development approach, creating the system design directly from the requirements. Their process provides graphical displays of the new application in reusable models and generates code using definitions based on inputs from all stakeholders.
Dimetronic developers use the Rational solution to deploy each application by generating most of its source code directly from the design model. The relationship between the system design model and the resulting source code is 100 percent synchronized, meaning changes to the code drive real-time updates to the model, and vice-versa, making it easier to find and solve design issues and bugs.
Using data gathered from the rail system, this automated development process reduces time-to-market for new products up to 40 percent, while easing compliance with stringent railway industry standards. By automatically generating documentation from the design, Invensys Rail Dimetronic is able to provide both customers and industry regulators with comprehensive documentation and reports in a human readable format.
Global investment in transportation systems is dramatically expanding, as are the challenges faced by signaling system providers. Invensys Rail Dimetronic has responded by establishing an ERTMS Center of Excellence, with IBM Rational as its primary platform. With Rational, the company works smarter, facing the future equipped with unprecedented levels of development automation, process integration and flexibility.
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© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America September, 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Rational, DOORS, Rhapsody are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. RAC14216-USEN-00