Predicting when HDB lifts will fail with new system

Group CEO of Surbana Jurong Wong Heang Fine said a lift monitoring system to predict lift breakdowns will be rolled out in some town councils from next year.
Group CEO of Surbana Jurong Wong Heang Fine said a lift monitoring system to predict lift breakdowns will be rolled out in some town councils from next year. PHOTO: BT

SINGAPORE - Imagine a system which can predict which lift will fail, and when.

Infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong (SJ), which monitors over 24,000 lifts in Housing Board estates, believes it may have just the system.

In July, the consultancy worked with several town councils to place sensors in 720 lifts, of varying models and ages, in HDB blocks.

The sensors detected and recorded lift speed, acceleration and deceleration, and jerky movements.

By putting the data through an algorithm, SJ predicted two lift breakdowns - on specific days - two weeks before they actually happened.

Three other breakdowns were predicted, but those lifts underwent scheduled maintenance before the predicted dates came around.

The consultancy said it can do even better. As more data is collected over time, the algorithm will improve, allowing breakdowns to be predicted even earlier, said a spokesman.

Lift maintenance gained prominence after a series of incidents, including one in which a woman's hand was severed by lift doors in Oct 2015.

In March this year, a lift in Ang Mo Kio abruptly shot up 17 storeys because the brakes were not functioning well.

The Government announced in September that it will set aside $450 million to modernise public housing lifts.

Under the new Lift Enhancement Programme (LEP), town councils will get 90 per cent funding to install safety features recently recommended by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) after a series of lift incidents.

SJ group chief executive officer Wong Heang Fine said the lift monitoring system, along with other solutions such as smart lighting, will be rolled out in some town councils from next year.

The lift system is one of many digital solutions SJ offers as a package, to building owners and town councils.

The Smart City in a Box package, which comprises different apps, was launched in July.

The package includes apps that track public lighting, water tanks and pumps, and electricity supply.

The Smart City in a Box package can be used in managing a building or running a town. It is versatile enough to suit mayors and town councils as well as condominium management committees.

SJ said its system also makes it possible to automate responses to a problem. If a light goes out somewhere, for instance, an alert can be sent automatically to the engineer responsible for fixing it.

The consultancy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft on Friday (Nov 25) and will use the tech giant's Azure cloud-computing platform to improve the Smart City in a Box package.

SJ taps the computing platform, which comprises a network of Microsoft-managed data centres, to deliver the Smart City in a Box apps.

By using Microsoft's platform, users do not have to invest in powerful computing hardware of their own.

Microsoft's technology will also be used to improve the apps. For instance, its predictive analytics were used to improve SJ's prediction of lift breakdowns.

Microsoft also has the video analytics capability to automatically detect when a passenger faints in a lift using closed-circuit television footage.