Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweet & Sweat in Lift Industry

Engineers play essential role in every where, from design, research and development, construction, planning, manufacturing to maintenance and operation. Besides that, all products require involvement of engineers, from small watch to spacecraft. Engineers design and build sophisticated digital signal processor that enables fast data transmission; engineers design and build safe and ergonomic vehicle that enables transportation of people from a place to another place, then, how about a lift or escalator that carry us from one floor to another floor inside building? What engineers have done behind us to make a lift or escalator safe to be used?

Indeed, I was inspired by my father to become engineer since childhood. My father was a crane operator at that time and sometimes he would take me to job site to witness how he hoist things up and down under sun light, I guess that he would like hint me to study hard so that I could get more comfortable job. Despite that my father is not an engineer, he learnt skills and know how from engineers to do his job, such as choose the wire with proper safe working load and follow method statement as instructed by engineers. At that time, my impression about engineer is always wearing safety helmet, checking complicated drawing printed on big paper, talking loudly and somehow well verse in mathematics. Perhaps, I already put the seed of dream to become engineer since then.

My career as an engineer begun in 2001 when I got a job as quality assurance engineer from Northern Elevator in Penang after graduation with B.Sc. degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia. Since then, I also pursued part time preparatory course in Fourier Technical Consultant for engineering council examination. The interviewers Ng A.K. and Seah J.D., both are mechanical engineers who have inspired me to choose engineer as my career. They told me that a person who likes to solve problem shall enjoy the job as engineer and I agreed that they were right without any hesitation. The simple reason is engineer is fantastic job. I still could recall clearly that I was brought to job site to investigate fitting problem and that was an unforgettable experience. I entered lift shaft after wearing personnel protection equipment, it was excited venture for me as a young engineer at that time. I spoke to site personnel to understand the problem, took photo for record keeping, investigated the root cause, analyzed cause and effect relationship, wrote a few pages length report, brainstormed with colleague and revisited the site after implementing corrective action. The satisfaction and experience gained from engineering has motivated me to move ahead when facing barriers. The visit totally changed my impression about lift! There is rare chance for lift to free fall like in the movie “SPEED” because lift is equipped with safety gear regulated by over speed governor that there are so many safety switches connected in series to cut off power in the event of emergency. Along the line, I also have witnessed evolution of technology from bulky relay based controller to artificial intelligence microprocessor based controller and pole change motor and star-delta starter to variable voltage variable frequency drive that has enhanced riding comfort. I also observe how engineers put their best effort to develop new green lift that could conserve more energy for sustainable development and the high speed lift that could run at very high speed in building as high as sky. Lift would only be brought into danger if it is not properly maintained adhered to best engineering practice.

Upon completing of engineering council examination 2 years later, I have a chance to work in design function. I started picking up many knowledge from many people around me and I found that I am lucky because they willing to share with me what they know entirely. Engineering job is basically boundless and cross functional in term of knowledge, mechanical engineer may need to know a little bit about electrical wiring, electrical engineer may need to know how to interpret mechanical drawings. I learnt control system from electronic engineer Anson Chong, maintenance methodology from Alex Koay, lift traffic analysis and marketing strategy from Lim Chong Hoe, lift system from Koay Teng Cheang and Ooi Eng Sim, engineering management from Andy Seo and Lim Chin Huat, my electrical background never gate to pick up other knowledge. They have demonstrated a model of good and brilliant engineer; I am cherish to work with the above fellow engineers because they pay attention to detail, persistent in looking for solution, work ethically, passionate in doing their job, present ideas in logic and clear manner. In the friendly and aggressive environment, I have explored myself in lift industry by playing different roles, quality assurance, design, manufacturing, installation, testing and maintenance, there is always a new thing for me to figure out everyday.

I have also been given a chance to lead various projects like development of machine roomless lift, cost reduction etc. Therefore, it also builds up my interpersonal and management skills. My engineering training has made myself to get ready for challenges in my future career and life. It shapes to be all rounded person. I never regret to become engineer and I wish to become good engineer by continuously acquiring new knowledge and skills so that I could take up new tasks with greater challenge in future. Last but not least, I would like to thank to my beloved wife May Pau who is always patient when dealing with “engineer” everyday.

by Lee Choo Yong (G29738)

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