“Black box” recorders are now fitted in many applications to help understand what caused an accident – but how do you get the full picture of what actually happened?
Ships black boxes are known as Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs), and since their introduction we have been supplying systems and services to ensure our customers get maximum value from their recorded VDR data. Our maritime customers are based around the world, and include shipping companies, accident investigators, insurance companies, law firms, consultants and national regulatory, enforcement, and investigation authorities.
We provide VDR analysis and replay facilities, and our MADAS software enables the VDR data to be combined with data from other sources (such as maritime charts, witness statements, AIS, VTS, and GPS data etc) to get a comprehensive and detailed view of exactly what actually happened to cause the accident.
You already have a monitoring system fitted – but maybe the data can be used for another purpose?
We were asked by a UK Train Operating Company (TOC) whether our previous experience of using ‘black box’ data could help them:
“How can we cope with our large ‘pool’ of unattributed delays – there are too many to use Trust for every individual delay event!”
This Time Delay Search Engine (TDSE) system is now available for general use, and works with any OTMR.
It has been selected by other TOCS in conjunction with Network Rail as an out-of-the-box solution to provide ‘forensic’ detail on any performance, timetable or operations issues arising due to the train, driver or infrastructure.
You already have a monitoring system – but are there additional valuable “nuggets” hiding in your data?
Aircraft Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) have been in operation for quite some time, and Avenca have considerable experience and track record in this relatively mature aircraft monitoring marketplace. Our customers are primarily operators who want to obtain increased benefit from their existing monitoring equipment.
Aircraft HUMS produce huge amounts of data, and one of our customers was concerned that whilst their system would detect those faults that it already knew about, there could be other fault-related patterns in the data that their existing system would miss. Avenca developed our AIDE software to use automated learning and pattern recognition techniques to search for previously unseen abnormal patterns in the data. The design of our software enabled it to interface with the customer’s existing analysis and reporting system to provide the required additional backstop they required.
How do you ensure that the lessons which have been learnt from the analysis of your accidents are effectively communicated to others?
The availability of data from ‘black box’ recorders and other digital data sources provides a unique mechanism to produce training material which can then be used to communicate the lessons which have been learnt.
We provide our customers with animated replays of their incidents using the complete range of available digital data, combined with any additional annotation or subtitles that may be required. The animation can be provided as a PC video file which can be used when and wherever required on any standard PC to clearly illustrate what happened. In this way, the lessons which have been learnt can be communicated efficiently throughout your organisation.
You’re thinking of installing a new monitoring system – how do you decide what it needs to do?
The application of Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) to Land Vehicles is a comparatively recent development. Although HUMS has been widely used on aircraft for many years and has proven to be effective, the lower repair costs and safety implications resulting from an unplanned failure on a land vehicle mean that it can be harder to make a case for HUMS on purely financial grounds. However, other factors such as the impact of HUMS on vehicle availability, spares holdings etc. may also be important criteria in evaluating the investment decision.
In order to help one of our customers decide on how (or even whether!) to fit a HUMS to their land vehicles, Avenca developed a Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisal (COEIA) model. This model used information on how they operated, maintained, and supported their vehicles, as well as information on failure modes, potential monitoring and communication technologies, and financial data to produce a range of Key Performance and Financial Indicators. The customer was then able to use the model to rapidly evaluate a range of “what if” scenarios, in order to make an informed decision about the optimum solution to their particular monitoring system requirements.
You’ve got a monitoring system fitted – and now want to use the data proactively to prevent accidents or ensure operations are efficient?
Typically the data from Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs) fitted to ships is only downloaded and analysed following an incident or accident. However there is a wealth of information present in the data that could be used to continually automatically monitor 24/7 how the ship is operating.
In order to help ship operators get these benefits, we have developed our Voyage Operations Quality Assurance (VOQA) software to routinely automatically search through their VDR data and identify any undesirable trends or events. The software produces reports which enable suitable action to be taken to reduce the trend or rate of event occurrence. This proactive use of their VDR data, mitigates risk, and can prevent the re-occurrence of previous accidents, thereby enhancing safety whilst also ensuring efficient and economic operation.