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31 January 2019


Interview with Andrey Zaitsev, the Head of the rolling stock department

The news service continues to introduce to you the employees of the project designing organization at SkyWay Technologies Co. Today we present to you Andrey Zaitsev, Head of rolling stock department.

Interview with Andrey Zaitsev, the Head of the rolling stock department

Good afternoon, Andrey! Please tell us what your employees are busy with?

The main task of the Administration is designing and development of rolling stock. The whole process of developing a vehicle is divided into stages or thematic work areas, which, in essence, determines the presence of various design Bureaus of a certain orientation.

The Administration has four main design Bureaus: "Layout designing", "Chassis", "Vehicle bodywork" and "Electrical equipment". The fifth one is "Onboard control systems", and there are two more for functional system analysis and operational documentation.

What is the composition of professionals working in the Bureaus?

It is an engineering and project designing staff. Five units are called design Bureaus, and two are simply Bureaus. In the first four offices, there are design engineers with various additional profiles, for example, engineer-designer-mechanic or engineer-designer-electrician. All of them are engaged in designing and development.

The main part of the staff at the onboard control systems Bureau are software engineers. They are engaged in writing software code and developing vehicle control systems. Today, they solve the problem of the onboard control system, which is responsible for the individual control of any single module. The autonomous system has a connection to the central control system, which is being developed in another Administration for intelligent systems. It also solves the problem of interaction with other vehicles, that is, their communication with each other.

One of the two Bureaus (that are not called design Bureaus) is the operational documentation Bureau. It employs various specialists, whose task is to describe how to deal with our transport in a manner convenient for the consumer. The Bureau is not directly involved in project designing and production of vehicles; it creates accompanying documents: operating manuals, product passports, blank forms, spare parts catalogs. In the future, this unit will be engaged in the preparation of technological operational papers and maintenance documentation.

And the second Bureau without the word "design" is the Bureau of functional system analysis that is partially involved in the creation of structural concept, but not directly. The tasks of the Bureau are writing technical specifications to a design and control of design requirements, performance of functional-cost analysis, determination of risks arising at all stages (development, production, operation), as well as the description of vehicle "behavior" scenarios and compiling up algorithms of its systems' operation.

And what if you reduce these stages of development to the concept of life cycle?

At the level of idea, while determining the would-be exterior of a product, the joint work of the Bureau of functional system analysis and the Bureau of layout designing begins. The main person in the whole process is the assembler. When developing a particular rolling stock product, he performs the role of the chief designer. He involves designers from another Administration. These "three whales" begin the process of creating a vehicle.

Then pre-project engineering study begins, renderization of the draft design starts, where primary technical requirements are already set, preliminary sketch design project and primary layout are modelled. Traction and dynamic calculation is carried out, operational parameters (passenger and load-carrying capacity), mass and dimensions of the future vehicle are determined. Several variants of sketches are created, the staff conducts review of the preliminary design, where the option for subsequent development is selected, and the phase of technical project begins.

At the technical project phase, additional calculations are made, the layout and design are specified, the transition from sketches to a full-fledged 3d model in 3DExpirience takes place. At this stage, the Bureaus "Chassis", "Electrical equipment", "Vehicle bodywork" and "Onboard control systems" are involved in the project - certain employees from each unit join the project. By the end of this stage, we have an almost finished digital model of the product, at the level of volumes and shapes, at the level of basic and functional diagrams of control systems and electrical equipment.

The next stage is the creation of a working draft project. The phase, during which the design of assembly units and systems is performed in full and working design documentation (WDD) is drawn up. The design is carried out mainly by the basic design Bureau, whereas the layout task is to link all systems and components in the most efficient and rational way, to ensure the use of the smallest amount of materials and simplify the design. It is important to take into account the convenience, time and money expenses for operation and maintenance. The engineering-technological service and regulatory control proceed with the development and approval of drawings at the stage of preparing WDD.

As a result, we get a digital duplicate mock-up of the future product and a set of WDD to be forwarded to the production facility for manufacturing (sale).

The subsequent stages of experimental development work, up to certification, are under the direct supervision of our specialists. For what? To achieve two simple goals: on the one hand, to get a complete vehicle that fully meets customer's requirements, and on the other, to get a set of serial design documentation and, accordingly, a certificate.

Interview with Andrey Zaitsev, the Head of the rolling stock department

How many people work in the Rolling Stock Administration?

79 people since 2019.

Who comes up with new vehicles? Your employees? Or the main idea is proposed by the General designer and you are only developing it?

The idea of new vehicles or the direction, in which we have to work, is determined by the General designer. In fact, we have developed such a number of vehicles not at once, although I can assume that the General designer had the whole lineup of them for a long time.

Could you recall the very first vehicle that you were developing?

The first to develop was a monorail unibus, but it was abruptly "overtaken" by unibike, as the most relevant rolling stock module at that time. They were produced almost simultaneously and headed together to our first major International exhibition InnoTrans-2016 in Berlin.

Do you cooperate with other Administrations?

We work "in a coupling" with almost all Departments and Administrations; the "closest" to us is the division of transport overpasses, because we drive mostly along "their" rails. The main colleagues are also designers (at the stage of product creation), Administration of intelligent systems, the division of power supply and automation (in terms of energy supply to tracks and vehicles), design Bureau with pilot production of electric drives (developer, manufacturer and supplier of traction drive and onboard electronics). We are in contact with designers and architects in terms of boarding platforms, service areas and depots. In this respect, our Bureau of operating documentation cooperates with them to work out technical specifications. Upon implementation, we work with the Department of material & technical supply, which purchases everything necessary for the product. And of course, Special Design and Technological Bureau with pilot production that manufactures and assembles a prototype, and test engineers who conduct tests.

Tell us about the main plans for 2019.

The priority task is SWIC — SkyWay Innovation Center in Sharjah. We also work out and manufacture a self-propelled chassis and a prototype of a high-speed unibus with 1,000 mm rail gage for subsequent tests at EcoTechnoPark.

In addition, our Administration is also in charge of supporting previously released pods that are at different stages and are preparing for a full transfer to operation. There are tasks on design support, there are also improvements caused by operational tests that have already begun. However, the focus is on SWIC in terms of designing new technology.

What technical features of SkyWay transport modules distinguish them from traditional transport?

First of all, I would note that they are completely different. Fundamentally new vehicles that do not need standard roads. This is the transport of the "second" level, that is, passing over the ground. Design specifics are primarily pre-conditioned by this fact: firstly, the modules are lightweight, and secondly, compact. And, of course, they have a unique aerodynamic shape, which is motivated by the need to reduce air resistance while moving.

In terms of operational control, they are automated, using technologies that do not require the presence of a person who performs the function of additional management over the control system. As for the drive, the modules use an electric one, some models are powered by the track structure, some of them — from onboard sources of electricity.

All the modules are passenger friendly, comfortable and very safe. There are no extra traffic participants on our tracks, and the control system is automated, which excludes the human factor. In the event of an accident, failure of a single module, which is an unlikely phenomenon in itself, all of the critical systems onboard are duplicated. However, let's assume something fails. An algorithm for evacuating a vehicle by neighboring vehicles running from behind or in front is applied in this case, when an automatic pod coupling takes place and the failed module is towed to the service and repair area, and passengers disembark at the station.

What vehicles will be presented at SkyWay Innovation Center?

The future diversity will be represented by the following models: unicar-T, mounted unicont (later a suspended unicont will be designed), a passenger suspended jointed double-rail unibus of large capacity will be launched in parallel with it. And later there will be its mounted "colleague".

In addition, there will appear two unitrucks (suspended and mounted) for handling large volumes of bulk cargo. It is also worth remembering about the possibility of changing the model lineup of vehicles at the Innovation Center depending on customer's demands.

Will all new cars be in a tropical version? And "T" will appear next to the names?

Yes, all pods will be adapted to other, hotter conditions. As for "Unicar-T" — this is a working title, it will "go" out to the world as model U4-431-01.

Of course, if this adding gets accustomed, then we would be able to call all the modules of tropical version with this postfix "T": unicont-T, unibus-T and so on. But, at the moment, you need to understand that this is not part of a commercial name.

We will also present a suspended double-rail train at SWIC, and, a little later, its analogue in the mounted version. This will be at SWIC No.1, which is in Sharjah. High-speed pods are being prepared for SWIC No.2 in a neighboring emirate. Figures No.1 and No.2 are also working titles.

What is the most difficult thing that you can point out in your work?

Our main competitor is time, because unsolvable engineering problems do not occur in nature, but implementation of a project within a tight deadline is a serious challenge.

For example, we have achieved compliance with the requirements for electric vehicles in terms of electromagnetic compatibility. We are developing a new transport that is unprecedented; these are systems of electric equipment, control and electric drive assembled from scratch. However, electromagnetic compatibility is hardly amenable to preliminary evaluation or testing, virtual or calculated analysis — it is necessary to deal with its consequences in practice, upon the fact of assembly and testing of a prototype.

Each model developed by us is unique in some way. If you take the power units, frameworks, traction modules, chassis — they are new every time. Absolutely new vehicles every time.

Coping with multiple tasks is also quite a challenge. We have a lot of parallel developments, many departments and people. As a manager, I have to adapt. We were growing smoothly during the first three years, however, the number of employees has doubled last year. This means that it is necessary to reorganize in due time, in order to cultivate the very team that you can later rely upon and trust in, delegate authority. Today I am short of time to engage in designing and creative work, the main focus is on the management and strategic issues.

So you are engaged in "designing" a team! Tell us about the atmosphere in the team.

In my opinion, everything is fine in my Administration from the viewpoint of professional background, friendliness and team spirit. In addition, we have a low personnel turnover in the team; it is one of the lowest in the Company according to my personal estimates. Only two people have left or been fired in 4 years since my joining date. In my opinion, this is a certain indicator of the spirit in the team.

Do you have a prevailingly male team?

Yes, out of 79 employees, representatives of the fair sex can be counted on fingers, there are only 10 of them. I reckon, it is important to maintain this balance.

At first, while we were working, there was only one girl in the entire Administration. However, we noticed that with the appearance of girls in the Bureaus, the atmosphere was getting better and better. And a female engineer was recently employed even in such a genuinely male Bureau as "Chassis". Yes, all our design engineers, regardless of gender, are people who truly love their jobs and work in their profile.

The last question: do you have a favorite vehicle designed by your Administration?

I love them all! Like children whom you cannot love more or less. But at the same time I think and I am sure that the best one has not been created yet, and its development is waiting for us ahead!

Interview with Andrey Zaitsev, the Head of the rolling stock department

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