Inside SMRT: Conducting Quality Control with a Auto Services Technician


Lau San Wei first joined SMRT in April 1998. He recounts making the decision with a bunch of friends all of whom simply wanted a job. Since then the 42 year old father of two has never looked back and is now a technician in the Auto Services Department at Woodlands Bus Depot. For Lau, work starts at eight daily. His tasks involve conducting quality control on vehicles and spray painting buses. Quality control is conducted on vehicles which have undergone repair works as well as for new vehicles. The spray painting of buses is only required for new buses, buses returning from body repair works and buses to be coated with new company designs. Lau describes his job as challenging as there are always tight deadlines to be met. Despite this, he enjoys working in the auto services department because of the camaraderie he has built over the years with his co workers.


Five facts

-It takes 3 days to complete the task of spray painting a whole bus.

-A team of 4 is designated to work on spray painting a bus.

-Lau’s favourite tools are the spray gun and the electronic sandpaper tool.

– Lau conducts quality control on 15-18 vehicles daily.

-Quality control for vehicles range from 10 minutes to 2 hrs. The time taken depends on the size of the vehicle, the damage sustained by the vehicle previously and the parts which require checking.

Inside SMRT : Repairing electrical components with an Assistant Engineering Supervisor

Meet Alwani Haja Maideen Noor Mohamed, an Assistant Engineering Supervisor at the Woodlands Bus Depot. The 46 year old veteran first joined SMRT’s Taxi Electronics Service Centre in 1997. The core of Alwani’s duties consists of repairing the electronic components of taxis such as Taxi Meters, Mobile Data Terminals, Nets terminals and Taxi Display Units. His secondary duties involve supporting the IT team by testing and reporting the results of any new software which are to be installed in taxis. Alwani describes his job as one which is in constant flux. With regular developments in technology, his department is required to constantly upgrade themselves, to remain relevant in the field of taxi electronics. This constant learning process is what Alwani enjoys most about his job.


Five facts
-Taxi meters are programmed about a year in advance, so as to prevent commuters from being charged wrongly. For example, on public holidays the meter must be programmed such that there are no peak hour surcharges.
-In the event of a sudden holiday announcement, SMRT’s entire taxi fleet, which consists of over 3000 taxis, are recalled-for reprogramming.
– On March 23, 2015, the day that Singapore’s Founding Father, Lee Kwan Yew, passed away, Alwani’s team was recalled for the purpose of programming the Electronic Display Systems of SMRT Buses with the message, “Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1923 – 2015)”.
-Alwani and his team work on approximately 40 taxis a day. On busy days, the number of taxis may increase up to 60.
– Alwani was trained by Israeli vendors for the repairing of the electronic boards in taxi meters.

Five quotes from SMRT President and Group CEO, Desmond Kuek that shows he aims to transform the company to serve commuters better.

In an interview with The Straits Times on 17 June 2015, SMRT President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek shared his thoughts and plans for SMRT in the coming years. These five quotes from him shows his intention to transform the company to better serve commuters.

1. He says it as it is.

In November 2012, 171 bus captains went on strike. Since then, employees have been given clearer career path opportunities and feedback channels have been set up for staff to send in their concerns.

In November 2012, 171 bus captains went on strike. Today, employees have clearer career paths and feedback channels to voice their concerns.

Desmond Kuek took charge of SMRT as President and Group CEO in 2012. He acknowledged that getting SMRT back on track is “incredibly tough and challenging” as he described the company to having “deep-seated issues… managerial, structural, cultural and systemic issues” at that time.

2. When it comes to improving rail reliability, he never aims for “just enough”.

SMRT Trains on service at Jurong East

SMRT Trains on service at Jurong East

SMRT’s train withdrawal rate was at 1.05 in 2014, down from 3.3 for every 100,000km in 2012. On this, Desmond Kuek said that “This is the lowest in seven years and we are targeting to go even lower this year.”

3. He has no illusions of the amount of effort needed to reach the goals he has set.


With the replacement of rail sleepers completed on the North-South Line and works starting on the East-West Line, plans to overhaul the system’s signalling system are also underway. Desmond Kuek said, “This may not sound like anything exceptional to some, but Thales, our contractor, tells me that this is its biggest project on a ‘live’ system anywhere in the world.”

4. He has SMRT’s long term sustainability in mind.

SingRail Engineering will be refurbishing our second generation trains.

SingRail Engineering will be refurbishing our second generation trains.

Since 2012, Desmond Kuek has worked with Faiveley Transport from France to set up the rail engineering subsidiary, SingRail Engineering. SMRT had also considered being a passive investor in OMGTel, a telecommunications company that was bidding to be Singapore’s 4th service provider but has since dropped the idea. “Sustainability, not simply profitability, is our aim.” said Desmond Kuek.

5. He has commuters’ interests at heart.

Commuters on trains

Desmond Kuek looks at Hong Kong counterpart, MTR, as a positive example of how things can be done in Singapore, in both rail reliability as well as service standards. “We are determined to achieve as high a level of operational excellence as MTR’s. Our aim is to be the people’s choice – that people will take the train because they want to, and not because they have to.”



Read the full interview at The Straits Times online: Rail improvements to put SMRT on fast track

Credit: The Straits Times, 17 June

Credit: The Straits Times, 17 June

Inside SMRT: Bus Maintenance with a Lead Technician

Kumaran S/O Renganathan has been with SMRT for 15 years and he has enjoyed every moment of it. The 36 year old, is a Lead Technician of the SMRT Auto Services department at Woodlands Bus Depot. What he loves most about his job is that he is constantly learning and he enjoys gaining new information.

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Station Stories: Bras Basah MRT Station

Bras Basah MRT Station: Assistant Station Manager (ASM), Muhammad Ashek Bin Mohd Ali has been with SMRT for six years. As an ASM, part of his duties include patrols around the station.


Being the deepest MRT station in the train network, Ashek has to cover a fair bit of ground. Each patrol takes him up to twenty minutes. During the patrol, Ashek has to be vigilant as he keeps a lookout for defects, safety threats as well as hazards to ensure the safety of passengers.

ASM Ashek's patrol route includes the water feature on the ground level of Bras Basar Station.

ASM Ashek’s patrol route includes the reflection pool on the ground level of Bras Basah Station.

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