The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has all along been proactive in applying innovative technologies to enhance service quality, and ensuring that electrical, mechanical and energy technologies are harnessed in a safe, reliable, economical and environmentally friendly manner to continuously enhance people’s quality of life. I am delighted to share with you the EMSD’s outstanding achievements at this year’s International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva. Four Gold Medals and four Silver Medals have been awarded to the department. This time, I have invited the teams to introduce to us two of their award-winning inventions.
Major annual event for inventors
The International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva is one of the major annual events for global inventors. Due to the pandemic, the international jury of specialists evaluated around 600 inventions and projects from over 20 countries and regions via video conferencing for the first time. This year, the performance of the Hong Kong delegation was excellent. The Chief Executive also attended a reception last week to commend and congratulate all award-winners. The work of the EMSD is closely related to people’s daily lives. I am delighted that the EMSD teams are among the award-winners and have received international recognition for quite a number of their research and development deliverables.
Artificial Intelligent (AI) Nylon Optical Fibre Sensing Escalator Combs
This time, I would like to introduce to you one of the award-winning inventions – the AI Nylon Optical Fibre Sensing Escalator Combs. This Gold Medal-winning system is developed by the EMSD in collaboration with the industry, a start-up company and a university. Senior Engineer/General Legislation of the EMSD, Mr AU Tze-wai, William, says that it is of particular importance to ensure the safe operation of escalators because we use them almost every day. This newly developed system uses optical fibre sensing technology and AI big data analysis to monitor escalator operation in real time. Besides, 3D scanning and printing technology has been used to enhance the design of escalator combs.
Sending out alarm signals when obstacles are detected
Sharing with us the features of the system, he tells us that it can detect obstacles on an escalator by monitoring the vibrations of the escalator combs with the use of optical fibre sensing technology. If an escalator is stuck by obstacles, the system will send out alarm signals and alert management staff via a mobile phone application, so that the obstacles can be removed as soon as possible to reduce the occurrence of “accordion-style” escalator crash incidents. The system will also calculate pedestrian flow along an escalator to enable repair and maintenance workers to know about the utilisation rate of the escalator. This way, workers can find out which escalator parts will have a higher level of wear and tear and carry out timely preventive maintenance to reduce accidents.
Combining 3D printing technology
In addition, using nylon material together with the latest Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology, the award-winning team has enhanced the design of the traditional escalator combs. Dr NG Chun, Curtis of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University tells us that combs made of nylon, which is a type of plastic, have greater flexibility. In the case of traditional combs made of aluminium alloy, although they are harder, their aluminium alloy teeth are comparatively easier to break and pop out when hard objects are stuck. Also, by extending the top coverage by five millimeters to reduce the gap between the combs and the steps, the team has made the design more effective in preventing hard objects from getting stuck in an escalator.
Favourable test results
Currently, the entire system is being tested on site on eight escalators at outdoor covered walkways, government complexes and large shopping malls, with favourable results. Thanks to the EMSD’s effort in promoting the system, it has been planning to be adopted by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited and various government premises. The Vocational Training Council has also expressed interest in applying the invention for teaching purposes.
Air Filter 2.0
Another award-winning invention I would like to introduce is Air Filter 2.0, an energy-saving air filter technology developed by the EMSD for centralised air-conditioning systems. It has been awarded a Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva.
Incorporating a retractable device
Project Officer (Innovation) of the EMSD, Mr YIP Kim-ming explains, Air Filter 2.0 has combined two advanced technologies, the first being a retractable mechanism that can operate on a need basis. Traditional air filters are fixed installations whereby air must be filtered before flowing out. However, Air Filter 2.0 has incorporated a retractable device. Upon detection of good indoor air quality, the air filter will automatically retract, allowing air to pass freely without filtration. With lower resistance to the air flow, the fan can operate with reduced power and achieve energy saving; just like it is easier for us to breathe with the face mask off.
Introducing acoustic-aided technology
The second advanced technology adopted by Air Filter 2.0 is an acoustic-aided technology which can enhance filtration efficiency. Acoustic waves are injected into filtering materials, so that suspended particles in the air flow will vibrate more intensively while passing through the filter, hence more likely to be blocked by the filtering materials, improving filtration efficiency as a result.
Reducing 20-30% of electricity consumption
Mr YIP Kim-ming points out that Air Filter 2.0 has been tested with good results. Compared with traditional air filters, the Air Filter 2.0 consumes 20% to 30% less electricity, attaining the goal of energy saving and emission reduction.
As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. Using innovative technologies to send alarm signals and carry out preventive repair and maintenance work, has become a new direction for the electrical and mechanical industry. Moreover, energy saving has always been an important issue, and is critical for Hong Kong to continuously reduce carbon emissions. Through this sharing by the EMSD colleagues, I hope to encourage more departments to keep an open mind, be flexible and innovative in applying new technologies to enhance services as well as to support smart city development.
23 May, 2021Back