Nov 16, 2017 | By David

We reported recently on the expansion of the UAE’s ongoing Dubai 3D Printing Initiative into the area’s transport infrastructure, with additive manufacturing technology being used to construct new roads and railway bridges. Over in Singapore, another pioneering region in the use of 3D printing, a similar development will soon be taking place. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and private rail operators will be implementing 3D printing technology, as well as robotics and virtual reality, to improve the reliability of the rail system in the East Asian city state.

Continuous maintenance is important in keeping a train network functional and efficient, and one of the main logistical issues in this area currently affecting Singapore’s LTA and rail operators is the amount of time it takes to replace a damaged or broken component, as well as the costs involved. The choice is currently between producing and stocking a large amount of spare parts on-site, which can be expensive in terms of storage, manufacturing and labour costs, or waiting a long time for parts to be delivered from overseas.

3D printing technology can improve this situation, as it enables the fast and cheap production of replacement parts. The LTA reports that four door handles for train carriages could be produced overnight using the additive manufacturing process. As well as straight replacements, it would also be possible for the LTA to quickly prototype designs for improved parts, using 3D printing. Testing out and trialling larger designs and concepts would also be significantly easier and more affordable.

3D Printed Handle

Original handle

A broad range of other cutting-edge Industry 4.0 technologies are going to be brought in to improve many different aspects of the rail network’s maintenance and logistics. An automated track inspection system, which has already been installed on four Downtown Line trains, will be progressively rolled out to all other lines. With this automated system, imaging sensors and laser scanners installed below the carriages of trains enable monitoring of track conditions for early signs of anomalies so that they can be fixed before a fault occurs. A separate automated vehicle inspection system, which makes use of a similar array of cameras, lasers and sensors, will start operations by the end of next year.

According to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, maintenance has “largely moved from (being) preventive, to predictive...We need to invest in technology to exploit predictive maintenance, and to build up capabilities to do so”. Not only is the LTA capable of preventing problems before they happen, the amount of time and labour required to detect a particular issue has now been drastically reduced. Inspection of major train parts like wheels and brakes has been reduced from six man-hours, to about two minutes.

Fixing a technical fault of problem will be made easier with the help of the Autonomous Mobile Robot, or TUG. This smart robotics project was designed to carry items like tools and spare parts. It weighs no more than 635 kg and can navigate by itself. A version of the TUG robot was already deployed this month at hotels to transport laundry, as part of a tie-up between StarHub and ST Kinetics.

As the AR technology matures, LTA is looking to incorporate AR into training of both operation and maintenance staff. Trainers can ensure the syllabus would be followed through consistently and completely, thereby enhancing quality of maintenance inspections. Graphics and video overlays will help technicians to be more aware of the technical requirements of maintenance procedures. VR technology will enable trainee maintenance and operations staff to practise on a particular part such as the train bogie (the undercarriage to which a train’s wheels are attached) or train car-body, without having to physically dismantle and reassemble other complicated components.

Proof-of-concept trials for the new AR/VR initiatives and for the 3D printing systems should begin sometime next year, at the Tuas depot.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Nope wrote at 11/17/2017 10:03:06 AM:

Tug life!

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