We are a modelling group who specialise in predicting the causes of failure in engineering systems and identifying how these occurrences can be minimised or the consequences mitigated, through effective design, maintenance, and operation.
The approaches to accomplish this can be considered in the different contexts of:
- Risk and Reliability
- Asset Management
- System Complexity
Current research which exploits risk based approaches in order to prevent hazardous system failures is being evolved to take a resilience engineering emphasis. In this, the types of disruptive events considered are broadened from system failures to include external pressures e.g. natural disasters and terrorist activity. The defences against the consequences of these disruptions are extended to include management of the event and the rapid restoration of the system functionality.
Railway Infrastructure Resilience Modelling – Prof John Andrews
Keynote presentation Joint International Resilience Conference, November 23-27 2020
A railway comprises a complex and diverse range of asset groups including the train guidance elements (track, ballast, sleepers and switches), structures (stations, bridges, tunnels, earthworks) and systems (electrification, signalling and communications). Historically railways have not changed significantly and many assets, especially the structures, can be 100-150 years old. Add to this that, as a transport network, it has the least options to introduce redundancy into the system, which would make it able to absorb and tolerate the effects of failures. With these characteristics, making the system resilient becomes a significant challenge.
This presentation starts by exploring some of the aspects of railways which make them naturally fault-intolerant. Following on from this, models will be discussed which have been used to support decision making regarding the design, operation, and maintenance to enhances the railway resilience. Many of these models consider the railway as a system. In addition, a model, which investigates the specific difficulties provided by an aspect of climate change on service resilience, is outlined.
Risk and Reliability
Risk has become a key concept in modern society. Growing concern about the environment and a number of high profile disasters have served to focus attention on the hazards and risks involved in a wide range of activities, from offshore oil / gas and nuclear power production, to rail and air transport.
The Group undertakes research using new advanced methodology to perform accurate risk and reliability assessments of critical infrastructure and systems. We provide the effective means to prevent and control failures, improving the safety and performance of engineering and healthcare systems.
More information about our research projects in this area can be found on our Risk and Reliability page.
The focus of this area of modelling is to understand how the asset degrades through time and use, and to identify the most cost effective options for maintenance renewal.
The degradation of the system components can be established through classical techniques or the use of artificial intelligence. The performance of the system is then predicted, accounting for alternative asset management strategies, using techniques such as Petri Net Analysis or Markov methods.
The prediction includes the future state of the asset, the number of each type of maintenance that would be carried out over the system lifetime and the Life Cycle Costs.
Much of the critical infrastructure that is essential to support the needs of modern society comes in the form of a network. Examples include: transportation, power, gas and water distribution and telecommunications. Modelling of these networked structures is undertaken to enhance their resilience.
The majority of the research conducted to date relates to the railway transportation network and the means to maximise its resilience to natural events such as flooding, and periods of high temperature resulting from climate change. Work has also focussed on how to design, operate, and maintain a railway such that it is fault tolerant.
More information on our research projects in this area can be found on our System Complexity page.
Network Rail Strategic Partnership
The Group has a longstanding history of research activities relating to railway infrastructure. Since 2009 we have been the Network Rail Strategic University Partner in Infrastructure Asset Management. Our activities include fundamental research on asset degradation, and whole system modelling, plus education, training, and dissemination of our research. This work has gained international recognition and is complemented by our projects on risk assement and reliability which look at the risks associated with railway infrastructure failures.
The Lloyd's Register Foundation
The group recieves funding from The Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a charitable foundation in the UK helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research.
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