Thursday , 21 September 2017

Changing the face of Indian roads and cities

The road network in India is experiencing palpable growth and in some sectors change is visible almost every day. The Smart City Program has resulted in citizens witnessing the immediate visible impact of assets such as Variable Message Signs (VMS), smart poles and WIFI being rolled out city-wide within weeks writes Ravin Mirchandani, Chairman, Ador Powerton.

The sheer scale of these projects has meant that there is a need to ramp-up skills at EPC Prime Contractors and sub-contractors, systems integrators and OEMs. Often this has entailed working on solutions that have not been designed in India before whilst learning how to implement them at a superfast pace. A good example of this is highway & city pole and gantry infrastructure for electronic VMSs.

Each VMS consists of numerous LED lights, supplied energy by a power source, which has software and control PCB cards incorporated within the electronic sign cabinet structure. As a result, it requires periodic preventive maintenance to ensure it works optimally. Equipment providers need to be able to access a VMS without blocking traffic. The VMS should also not create any safety hazards for pedestrians and traffic. Each VMS also requires a back-up power source through a UPS unit with battery-pack, which create their own hazards during times of flooding or if inadequately secured. The pole design must also ensure maximum visibility of the sign to approaching drivers.

When Ador Group first commenced manufacturing VMSs in India, we spent a lot of time focusing on software development and cabinet design for Indian conditions. However, we quickly realized that our customers expected us to serve as a systems integrator as well. The structures inspected by Ador in various cities were all vastly different and in many ways inadequate to house VMSs. In some instances, rear access to the VMS was made impossible due to structural gantry columns, making maintenance impossible – which resulted in parts of the installed sign never lighting up after the first few weeks. In others, there was no access to the VMS and maintenance needed lanes closed to traffic below for deployment of cranes. Where suitable structures did exist, these were not vandal proof and many of the structures were downright unsafe to pedestrians, motorists and technicians alike.

Consequently, at Ador we decided to address this challenge head-on and develop an India specific capability. The objective was to address the unique challenges faced due to population pressure, traffic density, heat, dust & heavy monsoons, as well as risks posed by hawkers and other itinerants who could use the pole and gantry structures for purposes not contemplated by the designers. We intended to create VMS support structures that were safe for technicians who service them and pedestrians & drivers below, had a long durable life in Indian conditions, and also designed aesthetically.

While travelling around the world., the Ador team found that the highway and city structures in Luxembourg were the most aesthetically pleasing, with aluminum cladding, whilst those in Germany, Hong Kong and Australia were most heavy duty and safe. Poland and China proved a hybrid with some elements of safety and durability but limited focus on aesthetics and the designs in the United States were not suitable for adaption to India.

The team then set out to design AdorPoleTM – a unique VMS pole and gantry structure, designed specifically for India. It incorporates a standard pre-fabricated pole, housing a VMS and platform for rear maintenance access. The platform can be made from either carbon steel, galvanized steel or FRP, addressing varying humidity conditions and has adequate width to allow safe work to be conducted without blocking traffic. It also has duty earthing to ensure technicians or pedestrians below are safe.

A ladder housed within a safety tunnel allows technicians to access the platform and can be accessed from 3ft, rather than 7 or 8ft designed on most poles in India. The safety tunnel has two lockable hatches – one below and one above, providing a durable vandal proof solution. To ensures sidewalk access is never blocked due to constricted space, the safety tunnel can be oriented to the centre, left or right of the pole.

AdorPoleTM is durable, safe, easy to access, does not need traffic to be blocked for maintenance and service and adds aesthetically to a city and highway. The structure is modular and so is retrofittable for poles & gantries. The design solutions works for poles on median strips or gantries across six-lane.