Extreme Innovation … How McLaren is applying its F1 motorsport technology to Singapore’s railways

September 5, 2018

Cutting-edge data acquisition technology is leaping from racetrack to train track as McLaren Applied Technologies agrees a unique collaboration with Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT), Asia’s premier multi-modal land transport provider.

For the first time in Asia, race-bred condition monitoring and predictive analytics solutions will join the push to attain greater levels of customer experience and deliver a world-class transport service.

McLaren calls it intelligent maintenance.

Applying Formula 1 technology

Competitiveness in Formula 1 is built on knowledge. During a grand prix weekend, the McLaren race team monitors the performance and reliability of its cars in real time via a network of just 300 embedded sensors, collectively capturing millions of data points. Each data point plays a pivotal role in helping the team paint a digital picture of the health of the cars.

Capturing, connecting and analysing that data enables the team to make more informed strategic decisions in the moment – and derive insights that will shape ongoing developments for better performance in future events.

The collaboration between McLaren Applied Technologies and SMRT is a significant step in our mission to transfer our proven motorsport technologies to the field of public transport, delivering advantage by maximising vehicle availability, capacity utilisation and multi-modal connectivity. Innovation is the key to meeting passengers’ expectations in a world of ever-growing demand.

Engineers from SMRT and McLaren Applied Technologies will now work together on a proof-of-concept intelligent maintenance solution for SMRT’s fleet, adapting our race car condition monitoring technology to rail. The two applications are not so different as you might imagine. The inside of a racing car is among the most hostile environments in which electronic components are expected to operate: a confined space subject to extremes of heat and vibration, and one that’s constantly moving, presenting further challenges in transmitting the data.

An SMRT train presents similar spatial constraints and durability requirements, since it is also in motion throughout the day and night, travelling underground through the metropolitan area, and subject to high ambient temperatures and constant humidity as well as frequent rain. In a public transport market conditioned to excellence, achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is therefore an ongoing challenge.

Intelligent maintenance

Intelligent maintenance forms part of SMRT’s ongoing commitment to meeting that challenge. By combining McLaren Applied Technologies’ wealth of expertise in data capture and analysis with SMRT’s decades of experience in optimising the passenger experience in Singapore, the partners aim to derive actionable intelligence based on dynamic vehicle monitoring, ultimately delivering more optimised maintenance regimes.

“In Singapore,” says Desmond Kuek, SMRT President and Group CEO, “SMRT have pioneered the development of rail condition-monitoring sensors to minimise disruption of our commuter service: optimising train performance by detecting and rectifying emerging defects early.

“We are collaborating with McLaren Applied Technologies to elevate this capability further, combining our engineering expertise in rail with their proven capabilities harnessing sensors, telemetry and software in motorsport.

“We aim to adapt and install McLaren’s motorsport technology on board our first proof-of-concept SMRT train by Autumn 2018. When implemented fleet-wide, we expect to bring about enhanced safety, reliability and comfort for commuters on our rail network.”

McLaren’s approach

At McLaren Applied Technologies we see intelligent maintenance as transformative because it enables service providers to adapt better to changing real-world conditions. Again, knowledge is the key: remote condition monitoring provides a richer insight into the performance of individual components, and our simulation technology enables us to model their service life with greater fidelity as we capture and analyse that operational data. Those insights can facilitate more optimal service schedules, making better use of maintenance capacity and reducing the likelihood of trains being unavailable for customer use.

“This unique partnership with SMRT will deliver advantage for Singapore by maximising vehicle availability and maintenance capacity of their world-renowned service,” says Dick Glover, Acting CEO, McLaren Applied Technologies.

“At McLaren Applied Technologies we harness our expertise in precision data capture, visualisation and real-time operational interventions to create inspired outcomes for the manufacturer, the operator and ultimately for the passenger.

“We are excited to take this first step in Singapore with SMRT, working together to adapt our proven motorsport technologies to optimise fleet performance and provide continuous improvements to the passenger experience.”

This partnership between McLaren Applied Technologies and SMRT is just the beginning of our journey together. While the alliance focuses on fulfilling intelligent maintenance for SMRT’s fleet in Singapore, the potential exists for us to develop a proof-of-concept for an intelligent vehicle solution suitable for adoption elsewhere in Asia – and even on a global scale.

“The collaboration with SMRT is part of our commitment to the global transport industry and its customers,” says Paul Bebbington, Director of Public Transport, McLaren Applied Technologies, “to digitally enable future transport systems and accelerate the path to intelligent mobility.”

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