November 8 is National STEM/STEAM Day! In celebration, we're launching a new series that focuses on the innovation happening across Bombardier all the time. We wanted to shine a light on the people who are making that happen.
Welcome to Bombardier Breakthroughs, a new series where you’ll be introduced to the outstanding inventors, and their cutting-edge inventions, that contribute to the advancement of Bombardier Transportation and Aviation.
Introducing Scott Gibling
In this edition, meet Vehicle Designer, Scott Gibling from Bombardier Transportation in Derby, United Kingdom. Scott started his career with a certificate and apprenticeship in Production and Mechanical Engineering and joined British Rail Engineering Limited in 1989 before it was acquired by Bombardier Transportation. In 2014, he had the opportunity to work on improving the assembly process for the AVENTRA electric train which resulted in an innovative assembly method. His method has since been patented and is a crucial addition to Bombardier’s strategic patent portfolio.
From issue to inspiration
Rail vehicle cars go through multiple stages to be assembled. Typically, large components such as roof, side walls, end caps and floor must come together before the assembled body gets completed with internal systems and other components.
The installation of a ceiling in rail vehicles was typically a lengthy and complex process. The issue was that the ceilings were being put into place inaccurately and shop floor technicians would spend countless hours adjusting the placement and bolts to get the gaps right.
With the AVENTRA vehicle, Scott’s team was asked to come up with ideas to reinvent the ceiling installation process. “The shop floor wanted as little adjustments as possible, like a Lego kit. They wanted to be able to open a box, take these bricks out and clip them into place that anyone could do,” said Scott.
From idea to invention
His team brainstormed and came up with a process that was everything they wanted. But getting it from the concept stage to the final methodology wasn’t so simple. They had to work closely with shop floor technicians and other engineers to make sure their ideas were structurally sound, and that suppliers could even manufacture the parts they needed to pull it off!
❓ Did you know...
Patents aren’t only applied to products?
You can also patent a process!
Their starting point was to install the full ceiling into the upside-down roof in one piece, but the physics just didn’t work for that idea. After changing conceptual directions a few times, Scott’s team finally developed a simplified installation process that made everyone happy. “We used jigs to hold the ceilings, lower them into place in the roof, attach bolts and tighten them up,” he explained. The new methodology worked beautifully because it allowed the finished ceiling to be dropped into the roof with the same alignment every time.
The influence on Bombardier’s business
This newly-invented method of assembly was instrumental to increasing the rate of production for the AVENTRA rail vehicle and is now the standard methodology for ceiling installation at Bombardier.
“It was all about building vehicles in a certain amount of time to get them from one stage to the next quickly,” explained Scott. “The whole idea was to get the components as simple as possible to save lots of time.”
The internal patent filing process
As with many inventors, the patent process was completely unfamiliar to Scott before this invention was filed and he praised the team for their support. “We’re very fortunate that there’s some very, very helpful guys over in Europe… Certainly without the help of those guys, it would have been a real struggle.”