Technical Officer Tan Thiam Lai, Signal Maintenance

Meet Tan Thiam Lai, Technical Officer from the Signal Maintenance team.

Before joining SMRT, Thiam Lai was working in a production line. He made a career switch in 2001, and joined SMRT as a Technical Officer. He says he has no regrets being in the company for the past 17 years, and credits this to the training opportunities, as well as the support from his bosses and colleagues.

As a Technical Officer in the Signal Maintenance team, he is responsible for the overhauling and servicing of the point machines. Point machines are mechanical installations which enable the trains to move from one track to another, allowing it to change track, bringing about safe and smooth journeys for commuters. If point machines are not maintained properly, train journeys for commuters will take longer (i.e. the train speed will slow down and might even cause train service disruptions).


Thiam Lai maintaining the point machine on the track

In his role, team work is an important skill set to have, as each point machine weighs over 90kg and requires at least a team of five staff to overhaul and service the equipment together. Thiam Lai also adds that it is sometimes challenging for his team as they have limited hours to overhaul the equipment and ensure it is ready for train operations by morning.

Thiam Lai and his colleagues have to work together to ensure that the point machines are serviced before train service commences in the morning

Despite this challenge, Thiam Lai says “I feel happy that there are people out there who appreciate the work that we do, which is why we continue to perform in our work”. 

Outside of work, Thiam Lai enjoys jogging and bringing his family to trek at the MacRitchie Tree Top Walk. “These exercises help to improve my stamina, which is very important in my job that requires me to lift heavy equipment”, adds Thiam Lai.