A*STAR and local SME ATC collaborate on sustainable MRO repair work for Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines A350
(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Aviation FestivalThe Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and local SME, Applied Total Control Treatment Pte Ltd (ATC) have completed a technology transfer, enabling ATC to take over the repair line for the refurbishment of Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) cabin components. The repair line allows SIA to integrate sustainable practices into its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) processes by adopting a repair and reuse strategy.

Under the joint laboratory set up by SIA, SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) and A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) in 2019, A*STAR’s SIMTech developed repair process methodologies designed to recoat surface-damaged copper trims. This new technology has allowed SIA to reduce the amount of waste generated from discarded copper trims, and significantly decrease the lead time for the replacement of copper trims.

Through the pilot repair line set up by A*STAR’s SIMTech, more than 2,000 repaired trims have been delivered to SIA and SIAEC. The repaired trims are 50 per cent more durable according to laboratory test results. With this repair line, the lead time for replacement has decreased from six months, for procuring Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts for replacement, to just three weeks for repairs using the new technology.

To continue and scale up the repair work for SIA and SIAEC, A*STAR’s SIMTech and ATC signed a license agreement to facilitate a technology transfer, enabling ATC to take command of the repair line. This includes moving the production line to ATC, as well as providing training to ATC’s technical team to operate the repair process and maintain the repair line.

“We are excited about co-innovating and establishing this successful repair line with SIA and SIAEC, which has led to waste reduction and more sustainable processes. Furthermore, the technology transfer to ATC has allowed the local SME to gain a new capability, and we look forward to working closely with ATC to improve repair efficiencies in our next phase of collaboration,” said Dr David Low, Executive Director of A*STAR’s SIMTech.

The technology transfer allowed ATC to gain new competence in the metallisation of polymers, complementing its expertise in metal plating and finishing. On top of the 2,000 repaired copper trims that A*STAR’s SIMTech had delivered under the pilot repair line, ATC subsequently delivered more than 3,000 copper trims to SIA with zero rejection rate since taking over the repair line. The estimated revenue for ATC for this project is $1 million over the next three years.

A second phase of the technology transfer to upgrade the repair line is currently in progress. The enhanced capability will improve the repair efficiencies of copper trims and enable the repair of previously unrepairable parts, reducing even more waste.

“This collaboration with A*STAR’s SIMTech has allowed ATC to gain new capabilities in the metallisation of polymers, especially for used ABS polymer, which is not an easy material to plate metal over as there may be adhesion problems on the previously etched surface. This new technology will complement ATC’s deep expertise in metal plating and finishing as we seek to grow our business, having moved to our new plant. We are also excited to be a qualified vendor to our national carrier, SIA, and also add value to the local aerospace MRO ecosystem,” said Mr Marcus Sia, Managing Director of ATC.


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