The Complexities of Document Control and Management

Signalling design and implementation is completely reliant on as-built drawings and designs, (source records) revised when any work is done and the system built and commissioned. In some cases, these original drawings are over 100 years old, on sepia negatives, drawn in Indian-ink, unbelievable for most of the public in today’s “digital” age!

Network Rail is the sole custodian of all original “source” records and drawings for the UK rail network (it is estimated that 60{be01deebafa0690a992599292fb53d80efe889f74ea06b675a9749e680444956} of the library is still in “negative” format). Whilst

our rail infrastructure is undergoing the biggest investment programme in generations, upgrading the network originally established by our Victorian ancestors, the core underlying principles of rail engineering remain steadfast: trains run on steel rails fitted onto wooden sleepers, underpinned by track ballast controlled by switches and signals.

Tracks and sleepers get renewed as they wear and some of the control systems for switches and signals have evolved – so we have an infrastructure network comprising heritage and modern technologies, and lots more that are “somewhere in-between”.

So, how is it feasible to manage a setting in which the latest digital technology drawings created on CAD (computer aided design) – safely and consistently interlocking with documents left by our ancestors and ensure that network upgrades and improvements can be implemented with the high degree of safety required, while maintaining passenger travel across the network?

Network Rail is the custodian of the drawings and records for the national rail infrastructure network; these records are held in secure and fire-proof vaults at a central location where secure access is strictly controlled. Rail contractors must go through a secure registration process that will validate their business’s internal security and management processes. If access is approved, to obtain or view records, contractors must:

Network Rail co-ordinates this activity to ensure integrity and appropriate management of documents. Access requests are assessed to ensure they have the correct level of security and management against Network Rail’s criteria and process.

One of the immediate priorities for Fenix was i to establish a robust document control methodology. Fenix’s IS Manager has developed a bespoke project portal using the SharePoint business system for the specialist needs of the signaling engineering project; all incoming documents are uploaded and managed through the system in their entirety. Each project has a minimum of six document control processes:

The process is designed to meet the demands of ISO9001 quality management, RISQS compliance standards and Network Rail “safe handling” requirements. This is now overseen by Kerry Pearce, who had training as a signalling design engineer. Now, Kerry – who is supported by Vanya her guide dog and adopted Fenix mascot) – is based in Hatton.

Kerry manages every single document movement in the company, both internal and external, from all sources including client projects, suppliers and Network Rail source records. Document control is fundamental to keeping high level quality control, industry accreditation and establishing supply chain credentials with clients.

All Fenix projects follow a defined process within their bespoke project control portal; for example, at the project start point a unique email box is established to channel all correspondence sent and received. This ensures that Fenix can track documents through a consistent and transparent route. By ring-fencing the use of personal email in projects this avoids knowledge gaps in technical document control.

Fenix maintains an electronic database of document movements into and out of the business, and every document includes a document transmittal form (DTF). This includes versions / revisions, who the document is sent from and to, the purpose of the issue and a request for receipt. The input and output registers automatically, making an electronic record of movements with hyperlinks to each individual document.

Fenix has processed over 380 DTFs since the system was implemented, some of which have more than 40 detailed document releases in total.

As the business grows and projects become increasingly complex, the document management will play an increasingly key role in tracking progress and providing a robust audit trail for the project lifecycle.

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