3 minute read

Technology - Tried and Tested

Gary Everson, Cairns Regional Council.
Gary is the maintenance manager for the Cairns Regional Council (CRC) encompassing road transport, parks, marine and drainage infrastructure. With experience in the military, water industry and local government, Gary has developed expertise across numerous disciplines.

One of CRC’s core objectives is for every staff member to improve each process they work on at every opportunity. This has generated a range of continuous improvement programs across the departments that have trialled a range of technologies, some very successful and some not quite as successful. Not all the systems, processes and technologies that have been trialled are directly related to engineering disciplines, however all have an application to work functions we are involved with at some point.

Each technology trial requires a ‘go/no go’ for launch based on potential return on investment and likelihood of operational success. This process needs to be flexible to enable creative access, but also structured well enough to ensure any resulting business case contains everything required to dial in the combination to the CFO’s safe.

Trial projects There have been a range of technology-based projects trialled at CRC with some being cutting edge with a higher risk of failure. However, most were more mature in their product development cycle. The trial projects included:

- Robotic mowers (automower) – used for high quality, manicured lawn settings within the city

- Carpool hire systems for staff use of pool cars

- Smart solar compacting litter bins (recycled materials)

- In ground parking sensors – monitoring free/taken bays

- Parking infringement systems – license plate recognition systems

- Electric power tools – chainsaws, blowers, hedgers, etc

- Drones for asset inspection

- Portable CCTV trailer for events and crowd management

- City sweepers to clean paths with pedestrians using the space

- Smart light poles with integrated sensory systems

- GPS remote monitoring for fleet

- Traffic management software – integrating with Apple/Google maps

- Community Wifi – engaging the community

- Dashcams – asset data capture

Automower trialed by CRC.
Automower Navman mower data.

Lessons learned As these products and services cover a range of functions in multiple departments, there have been a variety of positive and some less than positive outcomes which in part relates to the product or service itself, but more often to the organisation and its ability to manage the change process that comes with new technology.

The overarching lesson learned to date is being open to change, specifically committing to risk managed investment knowing some trials and systems simple won’t pan out as hoped, but those that do can be game changing.

As is being experienced by most organisations, the rate of change or at least the amount of new technological options within the asset and services space is beyond any one supplier and any one model of deployment. This is driving rapid change in the ICT management space which is merging with mainstream engineering and service provision operations.

Some specific lessons learned include:

- If you’re planning to fly a drone, check with CASA first for flight clearance in your area of operations

- Carpools work really well for people who are used to public transport, but expect people in rural areas to take more time to get used to this concept

- Dashcams are an excellent investment for capturing your asset data (roads, paths, etc), just make sure your IT department can handle the storage requirements for lots and lots of HD video

- Not all sensors are created equal. Check the QA on sensor data to ensure the ranges of measurement meet your needs and calibration is straight forward

- GPS fleet monitoring provides better return on investment when focused on labour production rates than vehicle utilisation. Improving logistics is the key to unlocking gains from GPS data.

- There are lots of devices giving us lots of data but what is being done with it all? Consider using Opendata platforms to enable development of Apps and services outside your organisation

- Sometimes you need to reinvent the wheel or at least bolt a community Wifi hub to it…

Solar compacting litter bins (for recycling materials) trialed by CRC.
This story is from:
Cover of "EPW June 2018"