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NewsTechManchester tech firm SRO Solutions delivers IT package to support UK’s polar...

Manchester tech firm SRO Solutions delivers IT package to support UK’s polar science programme

Software consultancy SRO Solutions is working on a project to replace British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) current asset management system, and help improve the processing and sharing of data between the organisation’s UK headquarters and polar research stations.

The Manchester-based technology firm was tasked with migrating all of BAS’ existing data from its current AMOS asset management system to IBM’s Maximo platform. In addition, SRO has created a number of bespoke applications to handle data covering cargo and freight movements, internal documents, and crew and course planning.

BAS delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary scientific research in Antarctica, and each season sends around 300-plus research and support staff to the continent. It operates three research stations in the Antarctic and two on Subantarctic South Georgia, and one in the Arctic on behalf of NERC. Other assets include the RRS James Clark Ross, a fleet of aircraft and specialist vehicles, plus the eagerly awaited new polar ship for Great Britain, RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Ashish Patel, SRO Project Delivery Manager, said the new system will allow data recorded at all of BAS’ remote stations, as well as on board the ships, to be made available across the organisation’s entire network.

He said: “Being based in the Antarctic, BAS’ sites are in incredibly remote locations, yet we are enabling them to get as close to live data as possible. Our unique data replication engine works in tandem with Maximo and is specifically designed to tackle issues associated with replicating information over low bandwidth, high latency networks. As soon as there is some network available, the data gets replicated, providing a like-for-like copy once the process is complete. As a result, BAS’ remote research stations will obtain the same quality of service that a connected site receives.”

As well as overseeing the migration of BAS’ existing data to Maximo, SRO was tasked with creating a number of applications to support the handling of new data. A cargo management solution is under development for BAS Logistics that involves building new custom applications to record packing notes, packing cases, packing lists and manifests for all cargo and freight going to Antarctica.

Crew and course planning functionality was developed in the system to create crew records, track crew leave and movements, store certificates and appraisal reports, and hold job roles with a pre-defined list of training courses required for that role. A custom application was created to provide a list of courses, with the ability to schedule training and book people onto courses, plus a Gantt view and a report function to track progress. SRO also created a document distribution solution to allow BAS to manage and control policy and procedure documents within its various research stations, ships and aircrafts.

Jonathan Ritchie, Senior Consultant at SRO Solutions, added: “All these applications are linked to the implementation of Maximo. That is really the key project because once BAS’ data has been fully migrated they can start using it as their maintenance system. It has required a lot of effort to get to this point but we are close to signing off.

“Training has posed a challenge because it is not realistic to get everyone over from Antarctica, teach them to use the new system and get them back out there – there has to be an overlap. Pre-COVID, our consultants spent a lot of time at BAS’ headquarters in Cambridge going through the system and leading workshops. We have also been in Merseyside training engineers who will be working aboard the RRS Sir David Attenborough on how to use Maximo.”

The IBM Maximo platform has been live for a number of months now and is considered operationally ready for the RRS Sir David Attenborough sea trails in the coming months.

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