UT researcher Dr. Mohammad Rajabali Nejad and his team are working on a four-year research project aimed at ensuring the problem-free introduction of badly-needed innovations in Dutch train traffic. ProRail, the NS, and the HTSM Top Sector are together investing €1.6 million in the project. Rajabali Nejad: “We have developed a concept we call the ‘Safety Cube’ that helps us to get a full picture of the implementation of innovations.” The theory behind this concept was recently published in an article, Systems Integration Theory and Fundamentals, in the international Journal of Safety and Reliability published by Taylor & Francis.
The scientific application of the Safety Cube theory has had encouraging results. The Safety Cube links three primary aspects – the social, the technical, and the environmental – which have a high priority for researchers within the 4TU Federation and Resilience Engineering. Rajabali Nejad explains that the theory could enjoy a wide application in all areas of innovation, from transport modalities to domestic products. The Safety Cube theory offers designers a simple but powerful guide to integration.
The Safety Cube has already been presented at the System of Systems Engineering Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, and at the annual conference Industriële veiligheid 2020 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
When implementing any new and innovative product or system, the foundation of its successful integration is safety. Three design aspects form essential considerations: the technical (system), the human (social) and the surroundings (environmental). The interactions between these three are also critical, so there are actually six design considerations, just as there are six sides to a cube. Dr. Rajabali Nejad explains: “The cube concept makes the concept tangible. The sides of a cube are all the same size, and this makes it clear that every component is important. It looks simple, but the Safety Cube can take account of a great many complex variables, such as time and hierarchy.”
Safety is a marketing must, Rajabali Nejad explains, but it is often not explicitly present at the start of a design process. The ‘Safety by Design’ course teaches students to incorporate safety into the earliest stages of design processes. The website SafetyCube.com has more information on the development of the Safety Cube theory, along with examples of the use of this methodology, including the integration of urban and industrial transport modalities.
Dr. Mohammad Rajabali Nejad lectures within the Engineering Technology Faculty at the University of Twente. See also the website: SafetyCube.com.