PACCAR Senior Design Engineer, Ngee Chong, has witnessed much of the heavy vehicle’s evolution. With 27 years of experience as an electrical engineer in the transport industry, Ngee has played a part in the vehicle’s transition from a predominantly mechanical machine into an integrated, networked system.
“The heavy-duty transport industry came from an all mechanical environment with a handful of electrical devices – such as lights or a fuel solenoid – to an electro-mechanical device,” Ngee says. “This was a big change that brought a big challenge in a lot of little pieces.”
A modern vehicle now consists of mechanical, electrical, electronic modules and a multitude of integrated software applications that all must work together on a vehicle network to function properly. To do so, part of Ngee’s role at PACCAR involves new vehicle model design work, integrating the latest electronic devices. “Even something as simple as placing a switch in the right location for the driver is important, and getting it right is one of my favourite things about my job,” Ngee says.
Although electronic controls and devices are now ‘part and parcel of a vehicle’, Ngee says the influx of technology into heavy vehicles is far from over.
“Introducing electronic controls and processes was a big change, but now not many people even think twice about it,” he says. “But more safety, automation and efficiency systems are becoming available, especially in terms of remote diagnostics, automation, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.”
Eventually, Ngee says vehicles will be completely connected to the internet, much like modern mobile phones, constantly sharing and using up-to-date data from the outside world. “With all the changes in vehicle technology, vehicle designers, suppliers and regulators need to work closely to make sure we can deliver the technology required by the industry.”
With an industry full of sizeable equipment and significant advances in technology through disruptors like autonomous vehicles, it can be easy to forget the detailed work in electronic devices that has brought trucking from just a machine, to an intelligent piece of equipment – but that’s where people like Ngee truly shine.
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers, Industry Icons is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of commercial road transport.