Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Cloudis is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
BAE Systems have been a user
of our software since 1996
CMPIC was used in the design and build of
the Type 45 vessels built by BAE Systems
Cloudis Limited is an independent UK-based software
company specialising in applications developed around
the Oracle database. It has been developing database
applications since 1994 and counts among its clients some
of the largest engineering companies in the world. Director
Ian Barnes discusses the company’s niche, how it entered the
market and the company’s complementary directions.
When you hear the phrase “cable management software” it rarely conjures up
enthusiasm or even recognition in the uninitiated and, to some extent, this has worked
in our favour. Electrical engineering is not one of the “sexier” disciplines and, as such,
is not at the top of the list for investment in software or services. At Cloudis, however,
we have always found this area of engineering both fascinating and challenging, and we
have been able to build our business around it. Although the sector could accurately be
described as “niche”, it is
niche and, unlike other technology companies who regard
cable management as something they are obliged to address, it is our primary focus.
Our niche
We have been in business since 1994, initially as a consultancy company working
with companies like Land Rover and BAE Systems, providing engineering and
database assistance. Alongside our services business, in the early days we started
looking at areas where we had expertise and where there was a gap in the market
for applications software. Cable management and document management were
our chosen target sectors. Since several of us had previously been employed in
large engineering and software companies, we had good grounding in what was
expected both from a functional and a computing point of view.
»Directors: Ian Barnes and
»Established in 1994
»Based in Runcorn, Cheshire
»Services: Engineering
applications for large projects
»No. of employees: 5
»Cloudis software has been
used to route and manage a
total of over 2 million cables
on over 150 major projects
After market analysis, we concluded
that an out-of-the-box offering would
not meet the needs of the companies
we planned to address. Although there
is a large element of standardisation
in terms of the cable management
process, individual companies diverge
in many ways. This can be for many
reasons: staffing, skills, certifications,
internal processes, etc. So, although
we have standard products, we have
built into them the facility to easily
create a high degree of customisation.
We work with customers to ensure
that people, process and technology
are all working to the same end.
Looking at target markets, we decided
to concentrate on the requirements of
large engineering projects, particularly
shipbuilding and power generation. To
give some context, a naval vessel typically
will have 25,000 to 75,000 cables,
a power station a similarnumber.
Addtothis the complexities of routing
these cables to ensure technical
integrity and material cost optimisation,
calculating weight distribution and
other such factors, and you begin to
see the need for a way of managing
this entire process. In short, the greater
the complexity of the project, the more
likely you would be to talk to us.
Entering the market
In 1996, we installed our cable
management software application
at BAE Systems, Barrow-in-Furness.
Shortly afterwards, we started working
with BAE Naval Ships at their sites in
Scotland. BAE Systems has since used
the software on numerous projects,
including the landing platform docks,
auxiliary oilers, Type 45 destroyers,
Type 26 frigates, Astute submarines
and the two new Queen Elizabeth-
class aircraft carriers.
Our involvement with shipbuilding
has not been limited to the UK,
however. International customers
include Fincantieri Marinette Marine
and Austal USA, who design and
build littoral combat ships for the
US navy, and Gibbs and Cox, who
are involved in the design. DCNS in
France has used our software on Delta
and FREMM vessels and Scorpène
submarines. In Canada, we have
Seaspan and Irving.
CMPIC can be used
with 3D or 2D CAD
for shipbuilding
and power station
CMPIC is being used
in the design of
nuclear and thermal
power stations
In short, the
greater the
complexity of
the project,
the more likely
you would be
to talk to us
Highlighting best practice
Away from shipbuilding, we are
involved in providing software and
services to support engineering
services in the power sector. Over the
last couple of years, we have begun
working with the Balfour Beatty
Bailey joint venture company, who are
responsible for the cabling of Hinkley
Point C, the UK’s current nuclear plant
project. Our software is also used on
several power station projects in India
through the Nuclear Power Company
of India and Tata Consulting Engineers.
Our other major concentration
has been on providing document
management technology. Sellafield Ltd
(and previously BNFL) has been using
our icePAC application for 20 years for
their document records management,
with some four million document
records being handled.
Complementary directions
Ten years ago, we became involved
in a project with Rutgers University
in the USA. Rutgers has three main
campuses across the state of New
Jersey, with many hundreds of
buildings, and is continually investing
in new technologies – such as security
systems, video, TV, computer networks
and VOIP telephones – leading to a
complex and sophisticated network
of copper and fibre optic cables being
installed to link the proliferation
of equipment. The problem was
how to document this ballooning
infrastructure. To answer this, we
worked with their staff to customise
our Cabcentric application to create
their own management system. Now,
Rutgers University has a comprehensive
database to help them trace all their
cables from source to destination in
addition to being able to view and
generate graphical reports showing
connection points, device locations, etc.
Most recently, we have expanded the
application of Cabcentric to manage
“blown fibre” cabling. Fibres are
literally blown using compressed
air through a complex pre-installed
network of microducts. The layout
of these microducts and the various
patching equipment that connects
them is held in the Cabcentric
database, which can then be used
to determine and record the best
pathway for each blown fibre.
To continue to be at the top of the
game in a technology company has
involved looking to see where and
how our technology could be applied
and, of course, having excellent
development people to carry these
innovations forward, even though
this might be slightly tangential to our
main business. The scale and longevity
of many of our customers’ projects
means that proven reliability is often
more important than using the very
latest software technology.
What does the future hold?
As we say to prospective customers:
we have been in the business a long
time and have 90 per cent of the
answers. Each customer adds the 10
per cent based on their own needs
and expertise. As such, we are in a
continuous cycle of improvement.
Long may it last.
We work with
customers to
ensure that
process and
are all working
to the same
CMPIC is used to
manage the entire life of
the cable: from routing
to installation and

This article was sponsored by Cloudis. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.