One of the many remarkable aspects of the growth of Singapore since independence in 1965 is its commitment to infrastructure investment and development. The city-state's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is renowned throughout the world for its punctuality, cleanliness, and technical sophistication. The first section of the network, five stations over six kilometres on the North South line opened in 1987 after decades of discussion and planning. Since then, like the country itself, the network has grown rapidly, and boasts a daily ridership of approximately 3.030 million across 171km and 102 stations. Now approaching thirty years of age, the older parts of the network are nearing a critical period of their lives both technically and financially. As an aging network, increased maintenance and investment costs could be expected. In response to this challenge and in order to keep control of the situation, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) commissioned multinational engineering and design firm WSP to perform comprehensive condition assessment analysis for all network assets. Today we bring you an exclusive case study from the WSP team that worked on this fantastic project in Singapore.
WSP is also locally one of the leading engineering firms with approximately 800 employees in Singapore and thousands in South East Asia. For this project, the local office reached out to their Swedish colleagues to be able to bid and win this interesting assignment. Sweden responded in kind, and using the combination of Swedish Asset Management experience and the very latest in asset assessment technology with Singaporean local know-how and familiarity with local conditions, WSP won and executed this massive undertaking.
The team from WSP performed data gathering and assessment of the condition of all infrastructure assets for all Rapid Transit System (RTS) lines, including civil infrastructures and structural components, permanent way and 3rd rail and architectural assets. The investigation set out to provide a complete suite of data and asset condition assessments plus remedial suggestions, investment plans, and operational-organisational proposals.
Mats Önner, leader of the global asset management practice at WSP explains more: “We saw this project as interesting from a few different angles. Firstly, it was unusually comprehensive, comprising everything from degradation modelling and investment advice to technical assessment of many different asset classes; secondly, we wanted to demonstrate the technical leadership in asset assessment we have through our Mobile Mapping technology and thirdly, we could enable our local colleagues to enter a new business field. In hindsight it is clear that our assessment of the project was correct and that we have achieved all of the objectives we set out before we started. Further to this, we have deployed even more new technology than we originally anticipated thus achieving great success for both WSP and LTA”.
In addition, the assessments aimed to identify maintenance and performance gaps, recommend a schedule of appropriate actions necessary to improve the asset to a required baseline condition, provide a program for the rectification and reinstating of assets not on par with similar assets, establish its rate of degradation, provide criteria for condition and acceptability, and result in a proposed new baseline condition. This project offered a number of challenges for the WSP team, their first comprehensive asset management project ever in Singapore. The condition assessment comprised the entire MRT network of the city-state and hence, innovative mobile mapping technology combined with strategic condition scoring and degradation modelling was considered the optimal approach.
Additionally, this project enabled WSP ( @ ) to train a new cadre of consultants to become condition assessment specialists for all and any type of infrastructure assets. Matthew Justin, leader in asset management in the Birmingham rail team, trained Lorenzo Gallosti who then designed and managed the overall asset management strategy.
“This project has been a unique learning opportunity, providing me with great knowledge and experience. The nature of the project, being particularly challenging and exceptionally comprehensive, is a concrete example, of how our team was able to make a difference with our holistic approach. Personally, I believe that we should be proud of having profoundly changed the way our client looks at asset management. This shift of mentality is vital for organisations to be successful in managing assets” concluded Lorenzo.
To perform the condition assessment, a version of the Mobile Mapping Geotracker™ ATV (pictured left) WSP Sweden’s well-deployed mobile technology, first developed 10 years ago for the Swedish road network, and which has since been a success on both main line railway networks, as well as in e. g. the Stockholm underground network, was deployed. The unique method of quickly gathering information along railways is called ‘on-track-scanning’ and uses a specially adapted and outfitted commercial all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
The basic equipment set-up for each such vehicle comprises a LiDAR, synchronized with a spherical (360 degree) camera, creating. ‘Google Street View-like’ pictures with accurate measurements and millimetre-level detailing. The rail vehicle is additionally fitted with industrial down-facing still cameras for tracks and a special scanner-camera combination for 3rd rail coverage.
This arrangement enabled WSP to detect defects down to millimetre-size; effectively covering everyday maintenance issues and limiting traditional inspections to defects testing only. This innovative approach combines this technically advanced system with a deep knowledge of asset management that allows WSP to appoint a condition score to every asset.
After 16 months of hard work, often during off-hours, the project is nearing its completion and for each line a condition assessment report is provided to the LTA as well as the procedures used for rating the critical infrastructure assets, enabling the LTA to enhance the provided service.
The system also provides direct information input into a range of maintenance and ERP systems, for the wider use, financially and operationally and thanks to this, the LTA are able to evaluate the past efforts when operating and maintaining the assets.
The advanced degradation modelling which was deployed by WSP in this assignment, came as a direct response to LTA’s desires to predict the future degradation of their assets and thus to be able to prevent or mitigate asset degradation. Singapore is probably the first metropolis in the world, using degradation modelling to the extent they now do, allowing this method a very central place in all Asset Management work.
As a result they are now better able to plan strategies for the future, such as life extension, capacity enhancement, or rebuild. Furthermore, training sessions organized throughout the project will enable the client to fully comprehend the condition assessment process and perform it autonomously in the future.
“This has been an extremely challenging project in a great environment. The challenges were not technical, nor organisational. The nature of this project, being the first of its kind for LTA, coincided with the build-up of the organisational Asset Management capabilities of LTA, as well as some other very fundamental organisational changes and some changes of ownership.
“LTA now has a very sizeable and well-staffed AM organisation with immediate, mid-term and long-term focus. We were fortunate to be able to provide them with the basic information and the best tools, and for that we are very satisfied. We have also learned to produce very good work on foreign soil under sometimes adverse conditions” says Patrik Guné, Business Area Director for Transport & Infrastructure at WSP Sweden. This innovative and efficient way of assessing the current requirements for the network, will help the Singapore network to continue go keep pace with the city’s growth for another generation.
Would you like to know how WSP could perform a condition assessment of your rolling stock and rail infrastructure? Please contact Sylvie Msellati at the following email email@example.com and learn more about asset and rail vehicle management here and further details on the Singapore project here.
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