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By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail : a plan to test innovations in the railway sector

Massaar, P. (2018) By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail : a plan to test innovations in the railway sector.

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Abstract:The railway is a system which is in constant use and must be modified to the constantly changing needs and wishes of society. In order to meet these needs and wishes innovation in the railway is needed (ProRail, 2017a). The maintainer of the railroads in the Netherlands is ProRail, a government organization (Nauta, 2017). In order to prove that an innovation works and can be implemented in the railway tests are performed. In this way it can be shown that the innovation meets the legal regulations and demands to function in the railway (ProRail, 2017). However, ProRail does not produce their own products but collaborates with other companies (Nauta, 2017) which can be collectively called market parties, such as contractors, suppliers and engineering firms. Market parties mostly provide the innovations which are then implemented. At a certain point in development both ProRail and the market party are involved in the test process, and both parties are needed to implement the innovation into the railway. It is important that through testing both parties are convinced that the innovation can be used in the railway, however, there are many factors which influence the test process, and which can act as barriers for testing or lead to an unclear test process. Thorough preparation of the test is a suggested solution to improve the test process. The objective within this research is to design a differentiated test plan, for future development and improvement of testing potential innovations by providers. Through this objective it is sought to improve the test process. In order to reach this objective, the following research question has been defined: What does a differentiated test plan look like to test potential innovations between ProRail and Providers such that the test process can be improved? In order to answer this question theoretical and empirical research has been performed. Throughout the research iterative designing has been performed to design a test plan. The theoretical research was performed via a desk study which was used to determine how innovations are developed. Through semi-structured interviews it was determined how tests were performed by market parties and other infrastructural managers. Based on the literature and the interviews a first test plan was designed. A case study was then conducted to determine if the developed test plan, and its contents, corresponded with tests performed in practice. It furthermore yielded more in-depth information on performing tests. Based on the case study analysis, the test plan was revised to a new version. Lastly, in order to evaluate the use of the test plan, a workshop was held. This was done with both the market parties and ProRail, to validate the test plan being practicable to plan tests. Additionally, it should show if the participants agree with the contents of the test plan. Based on the workshop the test plan has been altered one last time to a final design. The literature shows that innovation is the development and implementation of new ideas, products, processes or services (Van de Ven, 1986). During the development of innovations there are different testing phases: in-house testing, beta testing, field trials and in-use condition testing (Cooper, 2014). It was furthermore found that testing is the process of operating a system or component under specified conditions, observing the results, and making an evaluation of the system or component (Radatz, Geraci, & Katki, 1990). In order to perform a structured test a general description is not sufficient, but a test plan is needed. A test plan describes how one will go about testing, serving as a blueprint for the test and communication tool between stakeholders (Rubin & Chisnell, 2008). Finally, in order to plan tests, one must consider the general development decisions regarding test criteria and test methods, in order to derive and prioritise test activities during product development (Kukulies, Falk, & Schmitt, 2016). This basis was used as a reference framework to conduct the interviews in the emperical analysis. In the interviews corresponding test phases were distinguished during product development as found in the literature, namely: in-house, technical environment and operational environment testing. Furthermore, the two main goals of testing are to validate and verify the innovation, or to determine what to validate and verify in a later phase of development. Barriers occurring during tests are, among others, lack of information, rules and regulations, low transparency, many incorporated individuals and an unclear scope. Lastly, the interviewees mention that to plan a test a structured work method is needed, demands and risks should be determined, a location is needed and there should be consensus on the test method. A test plan then serves as a communication tool. It describes how the test is planned and gives attention to all attributes needed to perform a test. The interviews and literature together form test plan V0. One plan is created and is differentiated over the three test phases, namely: a laboratory test phase, a controlled environment test phase and an operational environment test phase. The components of the test plan are structured under test demand and test effort, as found in the literature. Test demand relates to what needs to be known to test and test effort describing what is needed to perform the test. The case study shows that per testing phase the goal, test plan and its contents differ. However, the objective of the innovation development stays the same throughout. Two test phases are distinguished namely controlled and operational environment testing. In both phases, the test plans were very different and did not include much information on how to execute the test. In the controlled environment the test plan was characterized by verifying and validating the innovation, with the aim of gaining permission to use the innovation in the railway. In the operational environment, the test plan was characterised by evaluating the innovation with the aim of implementing the innovation into the railway. Barriers found during testing were: too many individuals involved, too many risks that should be mitigated, no project leader and bad communication. The case study shows that testing in different phases can be completely different and the roles of the stakeholders involved in testing can change. The case input is used to create test plan V1, here the roles of the different stakeholders are added per test component, indicating who should deliver the different test information per component. Test plan V1 was discussed with both ProRail and market parties in a workshop held for the purpose of validating the components and validating the usability of the test plan. The results from workshop showed that the contents and the format of the test plan can be used to test innovation. However, that the plan could become a barrier if parts of the plan would become mandatory to fill out while this is not possible. In addition, the validation showed that to accommodate testing in the operational environment aspects such as removal, malfunctioning and maintenance should be added to the test plan. Lastly, it was mentioned that although a test plan is designed dialogue between the stakeholders involved in the test is always necessary in order to specify how the test will be performed. The information gained from the evaluation has led to test plan V2. The outline of this test plan is given in Figure 1. The differentiation of the test plan is thus determined by the phase of development of the innovation, or situation, in which the test is performed. This is indicated under the testing activities. Based on the findings it is concluded that a differentiated test plan is differentiated over three phases, namely: laboratory, controlled environment and operational environment testing, found within the overall innovation development process. For each phase it can then be decided which demands there are, and which effort is needed, to execute the test. Furthermore, for each phase one structure is provided by using the components of the test plan, based on the fundamental aspects distinguished for testing by providers, clients and the literature, regardless of the type of innovation or the provider. Clarity of what needs to be tested is improved by the differentiation which accommodates change throughout development, considering the various stakeholders involved per test and differentiates the test activities and test effort per phase. Finally, the workshop showed that the test plan and its components can be used during the various phases of testing described. However, the test plan could present a new barrier if all the components would become mandatory to be filled in when this is not always possible, because one simple does not know how specific parts of the test will be executed. It is recommended that on short notice the test plan is used and evaluated in a test by an experienced individual and then implemented to be used in an existing innovation development process.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Clients:
ProRail
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:55 traffic technology, transport technology, 56 civil engineering
Programme:Construction Management and Engineering MSc (60337)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/76775
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