Issue #12, November 2016
Engineering, Construction & Maintenance
GLOBAL WATER: LEADING
MADE BETTER WATER
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Issue #12, November 2016
November 2016 Engineering, Construction & Maintenance
GLOBAL WATER: LEADING
ON WATER SCARCITY
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Publisher and Editor Chris Bland Managing Editor Laura Harvey Associate Editor Jessica Dickers Contributing Editor Michelle Goldsmith Journalists Jesse Tyler Lauren Cella Marketing Director Amanda Kennedy Marketing Consultants Aaron White Steven Golding Production and Customer Service Titian Bartlau Senior Designer Alejandro Molano Designer Jacqueline Buckmaster Contributing Designer Sandy Noke
his year we’ve seen the rise of the smart utility – one that uses smart grid technology, the “internet of things”, and real-time data to enhance its performance and shape future operations. Electricity providers are combining battery storage and renewables into their networks to manage peak periods, and water and wastewater companies are using sensor and metering technologies to detect leaks and pressure changes, improve network monitoring and reduce costs. The rise of the digital utility and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is also a key focus of this year’s Australian Utility Week. We’re excited to attend this event, and to contribute to the conversation about how smart technologies can support a utility’s future operating goals. While smart technologies are helping to support the water industry, there are still global water issues that need attention, including water scarcity. Australia is currently well-placed to explore these issues, given our investments in desalination, recycled water and other water treatment and management methods – all of which will be explored at this year’s IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Brisbane.
SECURE UTILITIES EVENT While utilities now have access to more data than ever before, providing greater insights and greater control of their networks, the influx of information
available is also causing people to question how utilities can keep this data safe. To help answer questions about managing data in the digital age, Utility is hosting Secure Utilities – a one day event on 23 March 2017 at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne – where industry leaders and academics will discuss how utilities can protect their digital assets, ensure their data stays in the right hands and make sure it’s only used to benefit them and their customers. You can register for early bird discounts to the event at utilityevents.com.au.
INFRASTRUCTURE MAGAZINE Looking ahead to the future, it’s also clear that Australia is on the verge of an infrastructure boom, with more than $50 billion of investment already committed to this sector. Reflecting this trend, I’m excited to announce that we are launching the first issue of Infrastructure in November. Like Utility, Infrastructure will be a key communication tool for the industry and include the latest news, issues and think pieces relating to road, rail, airport, port and utility infrastructure. You can find out more information and subscribe at infrastructuremagazine.com.au. Our team is looking forward to your feedback on our foundation issue, as well as catching up with many of you at these upcoming events. Chris Bland Publisher and Editor
SMART GRIDS Transforming a water business i IoT....................................... 18 using
GLOBAL WATER Combating future water scarcity.......................................... 36
The internet of essential things.. 23
Managing the risk of falls in the water and wastewater industry......................................... 41
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getting hot in here: intelligently managing peak demand............. 24 Overcoming spatial challenges in utility mapping............................. 30 A three-step strategy for becoming a digital utility.............................. 32 VEGETATION MANAGEMENT Simplify vegetation management with FMC...................................... 34
LEAK DETECTION Detecting water leaks from space.................................... 92
The front line of leak detection... 96
Pioneering piping system for a world-class stadium.................... 42
The glass is half full for Adelaide River.............................................. 46 Liquid sensing takes a leap forward......................................... 48 Wastewater pumping with integrated intelligence................. 52 Challenging pipe renewal recognised by industry................ 54
Solutions for water quality and treatment management.............. 44 Experience to take on the challenges.................................... 45
CORROSION Corrosion management in a challenging economy.................. 98
102 76 72 POWERLINES Locating hotspots for powerline maintenance............................... 102
TRANSFORMERS & SUBSTATIONS Queensland substation going for gold......................................... 56 Securing electrical supply to Melbourne’s CBD......................... 60 ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT The risks of ignoring aging infrastructure................................ 62 Personnel and asset protection with fast arc quenching............... 64 What’s in an Insulect Link Box?...................................... 66
INFRASTRUCTURE ACCESS Making the most out of water infrastructure capacity................. 68 RETAIL Customer delight: transforming the utility customer relationship....... 72 Want to bill all your products and services at once – easily?............ 76
SOLAR The rising sun of solar farming in Australia....................................... 84 NBN Superfast networks opened to wholesale access......................... 86 Eliminate trip and fall hazards with trench and pit covers.......... 90
How the chase for scale has damaged utility-customer relationships................................. 78 HDD Managing the environment around critical infrastructure...... 82
In each issue Editor’s welcome....................................................... 1 A word from the ENA................................................6 A word from WSAA....................................................8
TRAINING Developing the next generation of water industry leaders............... 104
News briefs...............................................................10 Advertisers’ index.................................................. 112 Editorial schedule.................................................. 112 5
A WORD FROM THE ENA Article title
JOHN BRADLEY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER – ENERGY NETWORKS ASSOCIATION
n 2015, the Oxford Dictionary word of the year was the “face with tears of joy” emoji. This was chosen as the “word” that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015. Words, and their definitions, are powerful in communicating meaning and purpose. They can have a profound impact on the context in which something is viewed, our expectations of it and what it can do. For the energy network sector, traditional definitions may no longer be enough. There’s a growing reality that energy customers expect more from the service than a passive one-way flow of energy. Advances in technology and customer choice are fundamentally redefining the way in which energy services can be provided. These factors have led electricity distributor, Western Power, to drive transformation, not only in the use of new, more efficient technology, but also in regulation to support that adoption where it is more efficient than a traditional approach to network augmentation and renewal. The need to successfully balance the “energy trilemma” of affordability, sustainability and reliability, and deliver the best outcomes for customers has prompted Western Power to submit a request to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) for a change to the National Electricity Rules (NER) to clarify the definition of “distribution service”. The request proposes that the definition of “distribution service” be amended to include non-network options, where they are used to replace, or substitute for, a network investment. Western Power argues that electricity distribution services should be classified in terms of the service they provide, rather than just by “poles and wires”. Implementing a rule change in this regard would remove uncertainty about what constitutes a distribution service and support the achievement of the National Electricity Objective, that being: “To promote efficient investment in, and efficient operation and use of, electricity
services for the long-term interests of consumers of electricity with respect to price, quality, safety, reliability, and security of supply of electricity; and the reliability, safety and security of the national electricity system.” Technologies such as stand-alone power systems create the opportunity for customers to rethink their electricity service – but they also provide opportunities for more efficient network services, particularly at the “fringe-of-grid”.The use of new technologies by network service providers in delivering distribution services can deliver cost savings that can be passed onto customers through lower prices. Western Power estimates that stand-alone power systems could be deployed as a more efficient service to 2,702 of its customers over the next ten years, resulting in a net benefit of $388 million compared to replacing existing network assets. It suggests that, not only could these systems achieve a lower cost than a network solution, it could also potentially provide a more reliable and safer outcome for customers and the network business. The rule change recognises that, to invest in innovation, service providers require a sound business model. Distribution network service providers can only recover regulated revenue for services that are classified as “distribution services” by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). If it is not clear that a particular asset can be used to provide a distribution service, it is less likely that innovative, more efficient service options will be undertaken. Western Power’s request seeks to allow distribution networks to invest in non-network solutions only where they do so to provide a regulated service and there is no potential for competitive services to occur as there is no customer -driven transaction. The evidence is that customers value consideration of alternate options by network businesses. Through extensive consumer engagement in late 2015, Western Power determined that customers expected it to pursue innovative technologies, where they can deliver better
price and reliability outcomes. Further, to understand customer attitudes and amenability specifically for stand-alone power systems, Western Power commissioned independent research involving explorative conversations with 30 regional customers. In general, amenability to stand-alone power systems was high, with 80 per cent of those interviewed being at least partially open to the idea of having such a system. The rule change request recognises that similar issues and benefits would likely apply across the NEM, particularly in “fringe-ofgrid” areas, including in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The COAG Energy Council has recognised some of the issues identified by Western Power in its consultation paper on standalone power systems: “A key policy question going forward is whether there is value in regulating stand-alone systems under a national framework and, if so, what this framework should cover. A further important policy question is whether barriers exist, be it in the national frameworks or jurisdictional instruments, which prevent stand-alone systems being built to replace grid-extensions where it is the most economically efficient way to serve those customers.” The paper recognises that stand-alone power systems challenge the purposes for which the energy regulatory framework was designed. It states that if these systems are to become a significant factor in the electricity sector, the regulatory framework needs to be adapted accordingly. How we reshape our energy system to be resilient to the change being experienced and to meet the expectations of customers is a fundamental question for all of us concerned with building a better system for the future. This may require us to rethink our traditional definitions to make way for innovation and opportunities. Which leads me to this: as we reach the end of 2016, what is your word of the year for the energy system?
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A WORD FROM WSAA Article title
ADAM LOVELL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – WATER SERVICES ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA
n September 2016 the Deloitte Access Economics report Economic and social value of improved water quality at Sydney’s coastal beaches was released at Bondi Beach. It confirmed what we all knew: Australia’s liveable cities and beach lifestyle are iconic all over the world. Twenty-five years on from the start of the Deepwater Ocean Outfall program, we have vastly cleaner beaches – but what is the social and economic value of that improvement? Sydney Water commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to investigate. The report – the first of its kind in evaluating water’s contribution to Australia’s liveable cities – values Sydney’s beaches at around $1.3 billion per year. A significant part of the economy, and of that, at least $94 million is attributable to water quality alone. As an island, Australia is fortunate to have an abundance of beaches, and having clean beaches is a priority for many. The report shows a significant proportion of recent immigrants (11 per cent) specifically nominate clean beaches as a priority issue when they consider Sydney as a city to move to. The same could probably be said for Perth, the Gold Coast, Torquay and Glenelg, in fact our whole coastline of beaches from Tasmania to Darwin. If Australia is going to compete for talent and investment on a global scale, we
need to create cities and places that people love to live in. However, it’s not just those living near the beaches that love them – surprisingly, 60 per cent of beach non-users (people who had not visited a beach in the past 12 months) valued clean water and beaches simply because of the iconic value they provide to the city. Tourism Australia’s research shows that Australia’s key tourism drawcards include beaches. Almost 70 per cent of international visitors make a visit to the beach, and beaches consistently rank first as one of the most appealing attractions in Australia. Even more compelling is that good water quality and clean beaches, as demonstrated by the implementation of the Deepwater Ocean Outfalls program, enhances capital uplift of properties. Based on analysis, the Deloitte report shows that, on average, properties in suburbs close to the beach are valued at around $350,000 more. Importantly, the report identifies opportunities for capital uplift for any improved waterway that connects people, provides green space amenity and beauty, and lifts the local economy. Studies from around Australia show that improving bays, creeks (channelised to naturalised), rivers, and providing water to create green spaces, also leads to capital uplift.
It is clear from the evidence presented in the Deloitte report that clean waterways have multiple benefits: better health (physical and mental), increased capital value, increased profitability of local businesses, reinforced iconic value (even for non-users), and increased biodiversity of marine life. This also aligns strongly with the Federal Government’s Smart Cities Plan, but highlights further areas for improvement. While there has been a leap in improvement in water quality at our beaches, we still need better integration of stormwater management and improved coordination of infrastructure planning and delivery across the four essential services sectors of transport, energy, water and telecommunications. Realising these improvements will only increase the value to our beaches and waterways, escalating our attractiveness in the international knowledge economy and increasing value of property. Economic and social value of improved water quality at Sydney’s coastal beaches was commissioned by Sydney Water and released on 12 September 2016. It is available on Deloitte’s website: https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/ pages/economics/articles/economicsocial-value-improved-water-qualitysydneys-coastal-beaches.html
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APA TO CONSTRUCT NEW GAS PIPELINE
PA Group will construct a new gas transmission pipeline between its Wallumbilla Hub and the Australia Pacific LNG Pipeline at Reedy Creek in Queensland, as part of an expansion to its east coast gas grid. The Reedy Creek Wallumbilla Pipeline will expand APA’s 7,500km East Coast Grid by a further 50km, providing a key link to the Wallumbilla Gas Hub for one of the three major LNG projects operating out of Gladstone. APA will design, build, own and operate the pipeline, as well as construct the associated connection and compression facilities. The total cost of the construction is expected to be around $80 million. APA has also entered into a 20-year contract with Australia Pacific LNG Marketing to provide a bi-directional service of up to 300 TJ/d on the new
pipeline. APA Group Managing Director, Mick McCormack, said, “This new greenfield pipeline continues APA’s growth focus with another strategic energy infrastructure asset underwritten by a long-term contract with a highly creditworthy counterparty. “It is always very pleasing to further our relationships with existing customers and offer additional services and facilities to add value to and enhance their operations.” Australia Pacific LNG CEO, Page Maxson, said, “Australia Pacific LNG’s strong reserve position provides flexibility and, given Wallumbilla Hub’s position as a strategic point in the east coast gas market, this new pipeline will provide us the opportunity to participate flexibly and fully in Australia’s dynamic gas market.” Australia Pacific LNG is the
largest producer of natural gas in eastern Australia, currently providing approximately 25 per cent of domestic gas to the east coast market. “As one of Australia’s main suppliers of domestic gas, Australia Pacific LNG supports the work that the COAG Energy Council, AEMC and AEMO have done in establishing and working with industry to ensure the hub’s success,” Mr Maxson said. Following processing of the required pipeline development approvals and access arrangements, APA will commence construction in 2017, with the pipeline expected to be commissioned mid-2018. “APA continues to pursue a growth strategy, and the RCWP project is one of a number of growth opportunities ahead of us,” Mr McCormack said.
WATER CORPORATION’S NEW WASTEWATER SCHEME
ater Corporation will deliver a new Septic Tank Effluent Disposal (STED) scheme to businesses and residents in Kukerin in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region as part of the State Government’s $50 million Infill Sewerage Program. The Western Australian Government is investing $4.8 million in the STED scheme which aims to reduce potential health and environmental impacts linked to the use of traditional septic tanks and their leach drains. The project will also allow for future development of the town. WA Water Minister, Mia Davies,
said the scheme will take wastewater that has already been partially treated in household septic tanks through a pipeline and into an evaporation and infiltration disposal pond system outside the town. “This will help address the health and environmental concerns about the ineffective leach drains commonly occurring in the township of Kukerin,” Ms Davies said. Ms Davies said Hyden was the first town in Western Australian to benefit from a STED scheme, with 130 lots connected in mid-2014 by the Water Corporation as part of the Infill
Sewerage Program. “A STED scheme offers smaller regional towns in WA a long-term, environmentally friendly and practical solution to the management and disposal of wastewater,” Ms Davies said. Ms Davies said the corporation will continue to consult with the Kukerin community and the Shire of Dumbleyung on the details of the scheme, with construction due to begin in June 2017. Once the STED scheme is operational, residents have five years to connect to it.
ZINFRA. BUILDING REPUTATIONS
Natasha Brown General Manager – Works & Service Delivery TasNetworks “We chose Zinfra to install a new connection point on TasNetwork’s distribution network, based on their expertise and proven track record in complex design and construct electrical infrastructure projects. The Zinfra team delivered the technical requirements of the project on time and without a significant safety or environmental incident, despite the complexities of the logistics, geography, location and stakeholder management associated with this job. And that’s no easy feat.”
ARENA TO FUND 12 NEW SOLAR PLANTS
nergy production from solar is expected to triple with the construction of twelve new large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Australia. The twelve plants were chosen as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) multi-million dollar large-scale solar funding program. The new plants are expected to unlock almost $1 billion of commercial investment and boost regional economies, which aims to accelerate Australia’s move to sustainable energy. The new solar photovoltaic (PV) plants will be: • Origin Energy – Darling Downs Solar Farm – 110.0MW AC • Edify Energy with Solar Choice – Whitsunday Solar Farm – 58.1MW AC • Neoen Australia – Parkes Solar Farm – 50.6MW AC • Genex Power – Kidston Solar Farm – 50.0MW AC • Manildra Solar Farm – 42.5MW AC
• RATCH Australia Corporation – Collinsville Solar Power Station – 42.0MW AC • Neoen Australia – Griffith Solar Farm – 25.0MW AC • Canadian Solar (Australia) – Oakey Solar Farm – 25.0MW AC • Neoen Australia- Dubbo Solar Farm – 24.2MW AC • APT Pipeline (APA Group) – Emu Downs Solar Farm – 20.0MW AC • Goldwind Australia – White Rock Solar Farm – 20.0MW AC • Canadian Solar (Australia) – Longreach Solar Farm – 15.0MW AC ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said Australia’s big solar industry was coming of age thanks to ARENA support, ensuring large-scale solar was a competitive, sustainable energy option. “ARENA is working to accelerate Australia’s shift to a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy future and our work supporting the development of Australia’s large-scale solar industry is central to this vision,” Mr Frischknecht said. “Six plants in Queensland, five plants in New South Wales and one plant in Western Australia are slated for funding, in a major milestone that’s expected to triple Australia’s large-scale solar capacity from 240 MW to 720 MW. “They will provide enough energy to power 150,000 average Australian homes and deliver one tenth of the new capacity required to meet Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target.” Mr Frischknecht said regional economies will greatly benefit from the growing big solar industry, with 2,300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by this round of funding.
CONNECTIONS PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
he Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have approved the reset of the $2 billion Connections Project following a decision on the best way to secure the future of irrigated agriculture in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID). The Connections Project aims to save 429GL of water and improve the Goulburn-Murray district’s agricultural productivity and efficiency. It is estimated about 4150km of channel will be modernised during the project, including the installation of new water meters. The key feature of the reset is a publicly available channelby-channel assessment, categorising channels in terms of water savings, water use and potential efficiency gains for the district. An online portal will also be publicly accessible. VIC Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, announced the reset plan at the Victorian Farmers Federation water forum (VFF) in Rochester in Victoria, which also includes an improved delivery model that uses local input and increases
transparency for landowners. To ensure there are checks and balances in place, the model includes an independent review, a landowner submissions process and provision of a “reasonable time” to reach agreement. “This is a significant day as we announce a real pathway forward for connections – one that will produce water savings as part of our commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and secure the future of irrigated agriculture in the Goulburn-Murray region,” Ms Neville said. “We were determined to get this reset right, and now we have a clear plan for this once-in-a-generation project to benefit irrigators and the environment.” The project remains on budget, with the timeline for the completion of physical works extended to October 2020. The reset follows a mid-term review released in 2015, additional consultation with irrigators and the establishment of the Project Control Group (PCG) to drive the future of the project.
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NEW ORIGIN ENERGY CEO
rigin Energy has selected its new CEO and Managing Director who will take over when current CEO Grant King retires at the end of October 2016. Frank Calabria, currently CEO of Origin’s Energy Markets Business, will be appointed the new CEO immediately after Origin’s Annual General Meeting on October 19 2016. Origin Chairman, Gordon Cairns, said the board has been preparing for Mr King’s retirement for some time. “The past year has been a transitional one for Origin with good progress made on debt reduction
following last year’s fall in oil price. “We are also expecting completion of APLNG’s LNG project in the next few months. With good progress on these two important priorities it is now an appropriate time for change of leadership at Origin.” Reflecting on Mr King’s decision to retire, Mr Cairns said Origin would recognise Mr King’s significant contribution to Origin at the AGM. “His vision and acumen built Origin into a major Australian company. We will miss him, but we thank him for all he has achieved and all he has done for the company. We also wish him, Jenny
and his family every good wish for the future. “The board has undertaken an extensive process, including a global search for external candidates along with a thorough review and benchmarking of internal candidates, and is delighted to appoint Mr Calabria as the next Managing Director of Origin,” Mr Cairns said. Commenting on his appointment, Mr Calabria said, “It is a great honour to lead Origin. This is an important Australian company with a strong future.”
NORTHERN TERRITORY POWER NETWORK UPGRADE
ower and Water Corporation has completed an upgrade of the Darwin to Katherine electricity network to improve its reliability. The project involved the replacement of six critical 132kV circuit breakers,
the installation of a new 132kV plant at Hudson Creek, as well as the upgrade of secondary protection systems. Power Networks’ General Manager, John Greenwood, said the team successfully completed stage three in Darwin, the final stage of significant work for the Hudson Creek Zone Substation and Switchyard Upgrade. “This work was successfully managed and implemented throughout the entirety of the project,” Mr Greenwood said. Mr Greenwood said in addition to the installation of the visible primary plant at Hudson Creek, the final stage also
involved the replacement and upgrade of the power system protection schemes. “The protection schemes detect power system faults and operate the system automatically and within milliseconds in order to maintain a safe and reliable power system,” Mr Greenwood said. “These monitor the two critical transmission lines between Channel Island and Hudson Creek and the work was complex, requiring careful design, testing and installation.”
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COMDAIN OPENS NEW QUEENSLAND OPERATIONAL CENTRE
omdain Infrastructure has opened a new operational centre in the northern Brisbane suburb of Banyo and will move from their current location in Eagle Farm to the new renovated office and warehouse in October 2016. Comdain is currently celebrating over 50 years in business. The now 500-employee-strong company is also experiencing a steady rate of development. Comdain CEO, Peter Coen, said, “We have always planned for sustained growth, we have some of the best engineering and management minds in the country and a culture which attracts a
positive vibe.” The new larger facility, consisting of 4,000m of building and 12,000m of hardstand space, was built due to Comdain’s impressive list of current and ongoing projects and achievements. Comdain services Queensland’s major urban water and gas authorities including – QUU, Unitywater, SEQWater and APA. With the requirements of these and other high profile clients throughout the state, it is important for Comdain to ensure clients are continuously getting the same level of quality workmanship. This is why they took the strategic decision of combining the project management team, service delivery
and warehouse to create highly efficient integration between all working groups. According to Queensland State Manager, Robert Ryan, the new office complex is in an ideal location for clients and networks. “Comdain are well known for our ability to project manage complex jobs effectively and efficiently, by combining the our state corporate and operational teams we have the ability to deliver innovative solutions through quick decision-making and service excellence. “We look forward to inviting clients for a tour of the building over the coming months.”
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light Data Systems (FDS) is now a delegated authority of CASA, which means they can process individual applications for the remotely- piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (also referred to as a UAV Operator’s Certificate). The company’s aim is to reduce the wait time and cost to industry.
As an approved delegate, Flight Data Systems’s regulatory services are independently overseen by CASA. FDS has established comprehensive quality assurance, privacy, reporting, and conflict of interest management plans, all approved by CASA. Flight Data Systems has also established a team of highly-qualified assessors who have real-world
experience in the commercial operation of UAS/RPAS. Coupled with an easy to use online application system, FDS delivers a high-quality, timely and costeffective service for processing your application for an UOC/ReOC.
To see if your business can take advantage of these streamlined services, please visit the Flight Data Systems website at www.flightdata.com.au.
TRANSFORMING A WATER BUSINESS USING IoT The Internet of Things (IoT) is shaping up to have a critical influence over how water businesses operate now and into the future. With continued advancements being made in both sensor and communications technologies, capturing highlydetailed information is becoming a lot more cost-effective. With more data being captured more frequently, there has never been a greater need find innovative analytical techniques to manage the increasing data load.
therefore capacity utilisation. As with most water utilities, while Mackay has suitable SCADA systems in place within its treatment facilities, there was very little information captured once the water left the treatment plant. The only information on consumption patterns came through twice-yearly meter reads, which did not provide anywhere near the granularity needed to analyse and understand consumer behaviour patterns. Finally, MRC was also aware that it had approximately 15 per cent network losses, which while within national averages, was still a significant figure. Attributing causes to these losses and attempting to locate leaks (which are usually a significant cause of network losses) is almost impossible without detailed information that identifies when and where the losses are occurring. Accessing detailed information in a cost-effective manner was identified as an important prerequisite to achieving the identified demand management goals. Mackay adopted a two-pronged strategy which involved installing an automated metering infrastructure (AMI) network to capture and analyse detailed demand data, and launching a comprehensive social marketing program.
AUTOMATED METERING INFRASTRUCTURE The key challenge in delivering on the requirement to capture detailed consumption data was to be able to do it in a cost-effective manner that enabled the establishment of a viable business case. A standard domestic water meter is a low-cost device (usually less than $50/-) and generates a limited amount of revenue (in the case of Mackay, on average around $350-$450 per annum). In order to deliver the project within the cost parameters, Mackay partnered with a relatively unknown Australian start-up based in Sydney that was deploying an emerging communications technology that is now beginning to gain traction under the name Low Powered Wide Area
Networks (LPWAN). It is essentially a low-frequency (and therefore long-range) radio network, capable of transmitting limited quantities of data at very low power consumption rates. In order to keep initial investments low, MRC worked with the technology provider to strip out all unnecessary functionality. One key decision was to go with a one-way communications capability, which significantly reduced the power requirements and therefore the lifetime total costs of installing and operating a device. Given the high-tech nature of the communications network, MRC decided to procure the communications as a service (similar to how one would buy phone services), requiring the technology supplier to own and operate the network. This also transformed the costs of communications from a capital cost to an ongoing operational cost. After almost two years of gradually expanding trials (and several iterations of the AMR devices), MRC made the decision to install AMR devices on its entire meter fleet of 40,000+ meters. The network generates hourly meter reads from each meter, which enable a range of analytics to be performed on the data (see Figure 1 for a diagrammatic illustration of how the AMI network works). An integral component of the AMI project was the development of a meter data management (MDM) system designed to collect and interpret the large quantity of data that was being generated through the AMI network and to convert that data into actionable insights. Prior to the installation of the AMI network, Mackay was generating approximately 80,000 meter reading records per year (40,000 meters x two meter reads per year). After the AMI installation, the comparative figure is 292 million meter read records per year (40,000 meters x 20 average meter reads per day x 365 days per year). Mackay now generates ten times more meter read records per day than it previously did in a year. The MDM system, which was branded MiWater, has a number of functionalities built in, to enable a
he water and waste services (WWS) department at Mackay Regional Council (MRC) recently embarked on a project to transform the operations of its water business using IoT technologies. The transformation came about when WWS was required to respond creatively to the challenges and impacts of a rapid increase in population, requiring significant investments in capacity expansion, which in turn resulted in unsustainable increases in water tariffs. The cornerstone of the revised strategy was to focus on non-capital solutions to address the growing demand and the resulting impacts on existing treatment and distribution capacity. One aspect of this approach was a demand management program with a target of reducing daily per capita consumption by 10 per cent. Unlike in the electricity industry, water utilities have the advantage of network storage capacity. As such, managing intra-day peaks is not a significant issue. What consumes the treatment capacity is the daily demand during the dry season. Given the climatic environment in Mackay, daily water demand peaks during a period of 8 to 12 weeks in the late spring-early summer, when there is a dry period with minimal rainfall in the region. Given this demand pattern and the resulting impact on capacity, the core focus of the demand management program was outdoor water use, which was intuitively known as the key driver of the increase in demand for water during the dry season. Preliminary studies undertaken indicated that a 10 per cent reduction in peak demand had the ability to delay the construction of the next treatment plant by around four to five years. Such a deferral of capital investment would yield savings only on cost of funds of around $20 million. A key element of the demand management program was to develop a solid understanding of the consumption behaviours of the Mackay population. From this, it could be determined how this impacted the output of the treatment plants and
WATER METER WITH AN AMR.
FIGURE 1. HOW AMI WORKS.
water utility to use the meter data for a range of activities and decisions (see break out box for a listing of the MiWater functionality). A key element of MiWater is the customer portal, which enables a utility to permit its customers to access the detailed consumption information. Access to such information has proven to be a strong enabler of behavioural change. In a departure from the normal approach to building websites, the portal is designed not to encourage hits, but to limit the number of hits. This is achieved through the alerting and automated reporting functionality through which customers can decide the reports they receive, and customise their alerts. As a result, customers do not have to visit the site except to further investigate the occurrence of an exception event. The customer portal is built in a manner that enables water utilities to completely customise the look and feel of the interface, so that it integrates seamlessly with their existing branding, messaging and online presence. Using the consumption data generated through the AMI network and combining that with the property profile information obtained through the customer portal, MRC has been able to build highlytargeted communication and educational campaigns aimed at preventing leaks and
addressing outdoor water consumption.
SOCIAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN The other prong of the strategy was the deployment of a five-year social marketing campaign, which was developed based on the information gathered through a fairly extensive customer survey process. The survey indicated that only a very small percentage of customers (single digit) identified water as a burning issue for Mackay, and very few customers had any understanding of the impact of infrastructure requirements on the rising cost of their water bills. On the plus side, a large percentage of customers identified the need to conserve water, conceded that they could be doing more in that direction, and agreed that MRC had a role to play in driving water conservation efforts. Based on this information, the initial phase of the campaign focused on building awareness in the community of water as an important and urgent issue. The key challenge here was that Mackay, being in a tropical region, had no immediate shortages of water. The shortages were in the process and distribution capacities, which were largely invisible to the average consumer. To address this dichotomy, the awareness campaign was built around the theme “wasting water wastes a whole lot of
opportunities”, which attempted to convey the link between high investments and high water prices. The second and third years of the campaign focused on building awareness of the impact of outdoor watering, which was supplemented by educational messages of best practice outdoor water use. Here the slogan “Watch the flow of your H2O” was used alongside imaging of outdoor water use. The best practice approach was further reinforced with water restrictions that directed the customers to use water at optimal times and manners. Having primed the customers for behavioural change, the next phase focused on providing the tools to enable the customers to undertake that change. Initiatives such issuing of tap timers were undertaken to try and bring some discipline into the outdoor watering process. By this stage, most of the residential properties were fitted with advanced meter reading (AMR) devices and the leak detection algorithms within MiWater were already detecting customer-side leaks and alerting customers on a periodic basis. The next step was to launch the public portal which was branded “myh2o” (www.myh2o.qld. gov.au). In order to generate participation, the launch was accompanied by a marketing campaign and a sign-up competition with over $7,000 in prizes. The initial launch delivered a 15 per cent residential sign-up rate which has since climbed to around 30 per cent. The final phase of the campaign, which is currently underway, has the objective
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MiWater functionality Receive & process data from AMI network Establish dashboards for each individual meter, property, and water account Algorithm for automatic detection of customer-side leaks Automated generation of alerts as emails, text messages or letters CRM functionality to track all communications to customers Customer-profiling analytics Communications network monitoring to identify maintenance requirements and enforce contractual KPIs Tablet application to manage the process of installing, changing and decommissioning meters and AMR units Tablet application to conduct meter reading and meter read audits Establish and manage district metered
of reinforcing the new behaviours and converting them into permanent habits. To further drive registrations on the customer portal, the campaign contains customer testimonials on how the site helps everyday citizens to save water and save money.
THE RESULTS Currently, MRC is in the process of installing AMR devices on its last batch of around 2,000 meters, predominantly larger-sized commercial connections. The MiWater system is being extensively used in a range of functions. During the last year, MRC on average has been sending out around 1,500 leak notifications to its customers. The average duration of a leak has come down from over 150 days to around 60 days. With around 2.5 per cent of the properties having a leak at any given time, the reduction in the average duration is expected to contribute towards lower consumption. The nature of consumer engagement
areas (DMAs), track consumption & water losses and chart diurnal patterns Comprehensive database of meter and AMR manufacturers, makes and models with related technical data Capability to spatially map meters/AMRs, leaks, and communications status Comprehensive data interrogation capabilities Establish and manage sub-metering networks on behalf of large-scale property developments (high rise apartments, shopping complexes) Integration capabilities to receive data from customer/property systems and asset management systems Integration capability to provide data to billing systems and asset management systems Advanced customer portal to enable customers to access their detailed water
has also changed significantly. The communications have changed from mass market generic messages to targeted messages to specific consumer segments. Since the initial conception of this project, Mackay, like the rest of Australia, and the rest of the world, has seen some significant changes in its economic environment and, as a result, in its current and projected population growth. Even after adjusting for this lower growth, the demand management program has seen Mackay exceed the targeted 10 per cent reduction in its water consumption. Average per capita residential consumption is down from around 240 litres per person per day (L/d) to around 210L/d, a reduction of just over 12 per cent. The new water treatment plant, which in 2010 was slated for 2020, is now, as per the latest long-term financial plan, pushed back to 2032. As indicated earlier, one factor enabling that deferment is the lower
population growth predictions, but lower consumption rates have been a significant contributor as well. This deferment is part of an overall reduction in the ten-year capital program by 30 per cent, driven primarily by lower population growth predictions, demand management initiatives and a revised approach to the development of the capital program with a much greater emphasis on exploring non-capital solutions, with capital expenditure planned only as a last resort. The deferment of capital expenditure and the resulting savings in operational expenditure has resulted in a notable reduction in the forward price path of both water and sewer tariffs. In comparison to the price path adopted in 2010/11, the most recent price path shows an average residential consumer in Mackay will pay approximately $400 per annum less for water by 2025. Both water and sewerage prices have been held steady (zero percent increase) for the last two years with another year of no increase planned. Much is left to do. Currently MRC is in the process of establishing the on-ground facilities, such as properly located network bulk flow meters, to implement its DMA monitoring program with a view toward eliminating at least half of its current non-revenue water. MRC is also currently exploring how it can leverage its already established communications network to monitoring its sewer network. Preventing dry weather overflows and better understanding the inflow and infiltration profiles within each of its catchments are two key objectives.
To learn more about the AMI project at MRC, or the MiWater software, please contact Stephen Fernando at stephen. firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 In 2011 it was estimated that based on then consumption patterns and population growth estimates, the current treatment plant would reach capacity by 2020. Due to space constraints at the location of the current treatment plant, the only viable option identified was to build a new second treatment plant in a greenfield location. The capital cost of a new treatment plant including raw water pipelines was estimated at around $100 million in current cost. 2 With the exception of some information from a few reservoirs and pump stations that were SCADA-enabled. 3 While the reads are set at around one read per hour, overall it averages to around 20 meter reads per meter per day.
THE INTERNET of essential things
Utility Partner Solutions
by Mark Halliwell, Marketing Manager, Taggle Systems
There has been a lot of talk lately about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it will transform our lives. Much of the hoopla suggests that all sorts of things will be connected– cars, fridges, washing machines, pets and more– with tiny devices collecting life-changing data at a cost of mere cents. That’s all very well, but just how life-changing will having a history of your cat’s sleeping patterns actually be?
o take the concept of IoT a bit more seriously, we need to think about it more in terms of what Taggle Systems likes to call the “internet of essential things”. That is, we need to consider how these new technologies can make a significant difference to communities around the country. One area where the internet of essential things is starting to materialise is in utilities where the collection of data from simple devices like water, gas and electricity meters is becoming mainstream. A couple of years ago, it was a brave utility engineer who proposed to use one of the new low-power wide-area (LPWAN) networks to collect meter data. Now we see tenders and requests for proposals almost monthly with references to automatic meter reading, intelligent networks or smart cities, for which LPWANs are very well suited. And it’s not just for meter reading. Data collected from pressure sensors in water pipes, for example, is helping to identify bursts and enabling the reduction of excessive pressure which often
causes leaks. Energy savings through reduced pumping are also achievable. Sewer overflow alerts help mitigate environmental problems and a greater density of rain gauges allows response crews to be better prepared in periods of heavy rainfall. These are all essential to the better management of a water utility. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg, there will be many more to come. Utility managers, engineers and accountants are starting to see that the aggregation of millions of bits of data, each of which is meaningless on its own, is changing the way they see their businesses and shaping new ways to operate networks more efficiently. They also realise that the business case to justify their investment in this new technology and a successful outcome depends on the availability of a few critical factors: • Sensors with low-cost radios to send the data through • A reliable, low-cost receiver network which prepares the data to be delivered in a usable format • A software package which
processes the data for reporting and visualisation. Radios attached to sensors need to be robust, designed for and tested in Australia’s harsh conditions; and be able to operate for the life of the sensor without maintenance or change of battery. With each one costing only tens of dollars, the high cost of having to visit more than a small percentage of the units over the life of the project will diminish the ROI. LPWAN networks are best provided as a Network as a Service (NaaS), as the cost of establishing and maintaining a private network and associated data delivery platform becomes too expensive. NaaS is not a new concept – we’ve been using mobile phone networks for nearly thirty years. While data collected through LPWAN networks can be used in existing software like GIS, billing and SCADA software, to provide new insights and more efficient processes, new software, often offered as Software as a Service (Saas) is becoming available for specific applications.
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INTELLIGENTLY MANAGING PEAK
nited Energy (UE) is an electricity distribution business that supplies electricity to more than 650,000 customers across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, south-eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula. UE has an exciting vision for the future to become “The Intelligent Utility” by accelerating the transformation of its electricity distribution network into one that is smarter and cleaner. According to Karl Edwards, Manager Customer Innovation & Growth at United Energy, grappling with the challenges solar and storage present to electricity utilities led the organisation to a profound realisation. “We were looking at different ways in which we could drive innovation into the grid and came to the realisation that through the use of solar and storage technology, we could transform the very nature and function of the grid itself,” said Mr Edwards. “The traditional utility grid would no longer just include poles, wires and transformers and stop at the meter, but could extend out beyond the meter to also include controllable solar and energy storage technologies which are installed within our customers’ homes.” This realisation led UE to develop a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) concept. A VPP consists of solar panels paired with batteries and a smart inverter, which is controlled via intelligent software. The batteries are used to store excess solar electricity generated from the panels and then release the electricity to supply households and the grid at times when customers need energy or the grid needs support.
Electricity distributors design their networks to ensure customers have access to the electricity they need, even in the most extreme conditions. Traditionally, this has meant, as demand has increased, investment in traditional poles and wires infrastructure also increased. But now, new research from United Energy has highlighted the role solar and battery storage can play in providing the electricity customers need when network demand peaks. As an energy distributor, UE needs to build and maintain electricity assets so Victorians can continue to enjoy lowcost reliable energy supplies. There are portions of the UE network that require more capacity, especially during peak times, to meet customer energy requirements. There are also areas which encounter voltage difficulties due to the high penetration of solar. In the past, network capacity has been increased and voltage issues have been solved by upgrading equipment such as wires and transformers. In the future, the VPP has the potential to be a more cost-efficient means of meeting capacity and voltage requirements while reducing the investment required. “The VPP pilot project came about because we saw an opportunity to utilise solar and energy storage technology as a smarter and potentially more cost-effective alternative to investment in traditional network infrastructure for meeting our customer peak demand requirements,” said Mr Edwards. “We commenced the VPP pilot project in October 2013 in conjunction with our technology partner, Sunverge, and our retail partner, Energy Makeovers. As part of the project we completed behind the meter installations of over 50kW of solar and 150kWh of storage across ten residential customer sites and one commercial site. “In commencing the project, we learnt that energy storage can be beneficial to not only ourselves as a utility, but can be used for a multitude of different applications across the electricity supply chain. UE developed
SMART GRIDS THE VPP UNIT.
an innovative business model that could allow the benefits of installing solar and storage technology to be shared by all the key stakeholders within the electricity supply chain; the end customer, distributor and retailer.“ UE as a utility can use the technology for peak demand reduction and augmentation deferral on high temperature days; a retailer can use the technology for energy arbitrage when spot prices are high; and end customers can also financially benefit from having storage installed by increasing their selfutilisation of solar energy. The distributor/ retailer partnership model allowed a unique tariff structure and customer offering for customers participating in the
project to be formulated by Energy Makeovers, where all parties could benefit from having the technology installed. “From the recent rollout of our AMI infrastructure, we learnt there is a strong correlation between peak demand on the UE network and hightemperature events,” said Mr Edwards. “When this project was initiated, battery products were not specified beyond 40 degrees. This presented a major problem as we would need batteries to reliably operate when called upon to provide network support in even the most extreme temperature conditions, in excess of 45 degrees.”
BATTERY TRIALS To better understand how batteries perform in high-temperature conditions, UE hired a laboratory and subjected the VPP pilot storage units to extreme temperature conditions that matched those experienced during the Black Saturday bushfires of summer 2009. “We placed the storage units in a worst case scenario of direct sunlight with no wind cooling at all and recreated very similar radiant heating and air temperature conditions for the hottest three days recorded over summer 2009,” said Mr Edwards. “What we found from the lab testing is that even in the most extreme temperature conditions, the batteries were able to operate as required. We were able to use the findings from the lab tests in order to better understand exactly what causes heat gain within the storage unit, as well as identify the tradeoffs that could be made to the operation of the storage units in order to maximize their performance during extreme temperature conditions. “The results from the lab testing were used as the foundation or blueprint for formulating our control strategy to minimise demand on the UE grid during evening peak periods on hightemperature days. UE successfully programmed the VPP to automatically forecast high-temperature days and prioritise operation of the VPP fleet for dispatch of energy during the evening peak, whilst proactively managing internal temperatures of the storage units for optimal performance. “We executed our peak demand control strategy across a range of storage units installed in the field and found that we could reliably call upon battery technology for network support and peak demand reduction when required. Since our lab testing, we are now seeing products emerge with improved temperature management systems and increased temperature ratings.” THE FUTURE FOR STORAGE According to Mr Edwards, energy storage technology has the potential to play a key role in future
been around for many years and we expect that it will continue to be around for many more,” said Mr Edwards. “Solar and storage will not fully displace the use of the grid within urban environments, and we do not expect to see a mass defection of customers leaving our grid in the future when they have the technology installed. There are natural limitations to the amount of solar panels that can be installed on customers’ roofs, and we expect that most customers will prefer to stay connected to the grid so as to be able to substitute their energy requirements from the network. This is even more important for customers in winter months in Melbourne, where it is challenging to generate sufficient solar energy to meet their daily energy needs.”
INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGY UE undertook a worldwide investigation to identify and understand the state of the technology that was suitable for VPP installations, including
a detailed review of the battery technology, software and integration. The preferred batteries for the VPP pilot program were lithium ion batteries due to their high energy density, long lifespan and potential for future cost reductions. Sunverge was selected as the technology partner for the project. Sunverge was able to provide UE with an intelligent, utility-grade, fully integrated energy storage product that was specifically designed for residential applications. The Sunverge product had fully integrated its software solution with premium hardware to manage safety, performance and controllability. The VPP is controlled through Sunverge’s secure website, and multiple batteries can be orchestrated with a single command. The software platform designed by Sunverge could accommodate the unique commercial model UE had developed by facilitating joint control of the energy storage plant by both a distribution business and a retailer. The Sunverge software
SMART S E C TGRIDS ION
energy infrastructure. Technological advancements and ongoing price reductions in solar and energy storage technologies present an opportunity to utilise the technology as an alternative to traditional network infrastructure for meeting peak demand. UE has identified that the use of storage in place of traditional augmentation is economically prudent only within selected pockets of the distribution network. The economic feasibility of storage is closely linked to battery prices and the rate at which they fall over time (i.e. the percentage of sites where storage becomes economic in comparison to traditional augmentation improves as battery prices fall over time), however, even under the most aggressive price reduction forecasts for storage, there will still be a large number of substations where either the use of storage technology is not suitable, or does not represent an efficient investment. “What this means is that the grid has
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platform enabled UE to aggregate a fleet of distributed energy storage resources which could be controlled in tandem to operate as a single VPP. Sunverge customised their standard hardware to better perform in hot Australian climatic conditions by adding active cooling to the VPP system. Sunverge also continued to evolve their load and solar generation prediction algorithms to maintain the most efficient operation possible for the hardware. This ensured that the Sunverge system could provide maximum value to the customer when the VPP system was not being used by UE for network support functions or the retailer for arbitrage.
MANAGING PEAK DEMAND UE expects energy storage to fundamentally change the way utilities approach demand planning over the long term. “At UE, we design and operate our network to facilitate there being sufficient capacity available to meet our customers’ peak electricity demand requirements,” said Mr Edwards. “Electricity demand
on the UE network typically peaks in the evening period over the summer months on the hottest days of the year. “Economic growth and the installation of sizable load appliances, such as air conditioners, has historically caused peak demand on the UE network to grow, resulting in electricity distribution network infrastructure assets becoming overloaded, or constrained, over time. In order to minimise the risk of asset failure and supply outages, UE invests capital in upgrading overloaded network infrastructure assets such as cables, wires and transformers,” said Mr Edwards. UE recognises that traditional means of providing electricity supply services to its customers are changing. A number of factors such as increased customer engagement in energy decision making, changing demographics, government policy and technology advances (such as energy efficiency and the installation of rooftop solar) is causing growth in peak demand to flatline or fall in parts of the network. In a world where demand on parts of the network is falling and future peak demand on a substation is unknown, it has become increasingly difficult to plan for large-capacity upgrades using the traditional approach to demand planning. “We are seeking ways in which we could make more efficient use of our existing infrastructure assets,” noted Mr Edwards. “We know that the use of solar alone does not reduce peak demand, however solar coupled with controllable energy storage technology provides UE with the ability to incrementally add capacity – by reducing customer grid consumption – to the network as required in response to changes in customer demand patterns over time.” Solar and storage can be progressively installed on the network to delay a capital investment in augmentation until a clear trend in peak demand growth is evident and it is established that network augmentation is required to support customer load. Where peak demand continues to grow, solar and storage can be added incrementally to provide capacity where it is cost-effective in relation to traditional augmentation. Where peak demand growth is not rapid enough to justify augmentation, additional
energy storage units can be added as required to maintain the distribution substation within its rating. In regions of the network where growth falls or flatlines, energy storage can be removed and transferred to other constrained regions of the network if required. “The analysis we have undertaken suggests that wide-scale deployment of energy storage will have a material impact on peak demand growth within parts of our distribution network,” said Mr Edwards. “In pockets of the distribution network where there is a high penetration of storage installed, peaks will likely flatten. We are unlikely to see the growth in demand that we may have seen historically in these parts of our network. In other parts of the network where the penetration of storage is relatively small, peak demand growth will continue and investment in traditional poles and wires infrastructure will be required to ensure customers peak demand requirements can be met by the network.
UPGRADE SAVINGS UE has estimated that should battery prices fall in the future as forecast, storage could be the most cost-effective solution for up to 30 per cent of upgrades on its network by 2020. These cost savings will benefit all customers located within the distribution network through lower prices. MEETING VOLTAGE REQUIREMENTS Through its research, UE has found that solar alone does not shave peak demand; and a high penetration of solar installed on distribution network (in excess of 30 per cent) can potentially create significant issues with voltage rise on the network. “We learnt that by locating the batteries at the right locations along the distribution feeder, controllable solar and storage can be very effective at regulating voltages too,” said Mr Edwards. Storage helps address voltage rise issues on the LV distribution network in one of two ways: • Passive voltage regulation – which absorbs excess PV generation into the batteries during times of light load and high solar generation • Active voltage regulation – which
distribution network by helping manage the voltage rise and power quality issues associated with the installation of PV by customers.”
NEXT STEPS Whist UE has successfully tested the technology at individual customer premises as part of the VPP pilot project, the VPP pilot customers were distributed across the whole UE network and were not located on one particular constrained region of the network. UE has identified selected constrained (overloaded) assets for
rectification, whereby solar and storage is more economic than traditional network augmentation solution. As part of the next steps for this program, UE seeks to commence installations of solar and storage assets within selected constrained regions of the network in order to prove that the technology can be controlled in concert to defer investments in actual planned augmentation projects.
involves actively controlling the energy storage plant to sink and source both real and reactive power to the network in order to regulate voltages at the point of connection. If network voltages are high, active voltage regulation can be used to add load to the network by charging the batteries from the grid and therefore using the batteries as an energy sink to drag voltages at the connection point lower. Conversely, stored energy from the batteries can also be exported to the grid to boost grid voltages at the connection point if the network voltages are low. “We have discovered that there are scenarios or pockets on the network where the use of storage for voltage regulation is particularly efficient,” said Mr Edwards. “The voltage regulation control algorithm developed by UE could help facilitate a much greater penetration of solar on the UE
United Energy was recognised for its work on this project at the recent Clean Energy Council Awards, where it took out the Innovation Award for its commitment to helping shave off peak demand.
Utility Partner Solutions
OVERCOMING SPATIAL CHALLENGES
IN UTILITY MAPPING
If you’ve worked in, or been a consultant to, a utility, then you would understand the complex processes required to manage assets and ensure their operation meets customer requirements and optimises asset life.
or contractors performing installation and maintenance work, the ability to accurately pinpoint the location of assets is essential. Yet, in today’s industry, some utility network operators and service providers are still using manual steps to document data in the field. This manual process can lead to duplicated data, delays in field data integration with the GIS, work instructions not being followed correctly, or unknown or unprovable spatial field accuracy. Using traditional procedures with new technology can also cause bottlenecks, error hotspots and internal frustration, as well as create a standalone system that has no spatial component or relation to the actual fieldwork undertaken. Having multiple systems for field collection, data management, work orders and project management that are all managed separately can also lead to duplication, transcription errors and a muddied project overview. Many will read the above and nod their heads in recognition, resignation and acceptance. But given the industry now has portable, connected-to-the-cloud computing – why are these problems still continuing? To combat these challenges and help utilities efficiently manage their assets, C.R. Kennedy has partnered with Geolantis, a leading European software house that specialises in modular software solutions delivering GIS, CAD and asset management to mobile field crews. Together, they have created Geolantis.360, a next generation platform that uses the latest cloud computing and mobile device technology to provide an enterprise-grade utility mapping solution. Geolantis.360 manages data collection, inspections and asset management and allows for optimal communication between stakeholders, consultants and employees. This high-grade performance has three main advantages:
ENTERPRISE GRADE FUNCTIONALITY • A single source of spatial data • Work orders can be integrated with, and assigned to, the specific assets that require work. Whether it’s the initial inspection or a follow up repair, each is associated to an asset within the spatial database, in a single system • Manage users with different roles and access levels • Attach relevant documents and plans to the project for field staff to access • Combines GIS data with engineering drawings for complete overview.
CLOUD-BASED PLATFORM • Constantly up-to-date data available to everyone • Monitors live job progress • Monitors project quality and compliance. SIMPLE CONCEPTS • Complete control of workflow from a central point • Uses one digital platform for all field capture • Easy to create dynamic custom forms for field crews • Captures spatial accuracy metadata in the background for QA. Geolantis.360 provides a significant return on investment by delivering powerful, reliable solutions that transform the field into a business centre. It encompasses all map viewing and navigation capabilities while hiding the complexity of GIS and CAD systems to provide the same level of detail to all users – whether they’re in the office or the field. Rapid advances in technology over the last five years have fragmented many large organisations, leaving them a messy combination of legacy and modern systems. Stakeholders are unsure about how to optimise their systems for delivering the expected high levels of service and results. This is why Geolantis.360 is a game changer in office and field collaboration, it solves these problems through an integrated cloud platform that is easy to implement and operate.
Contact C.R. Kennedy to explore how the Geolantis.360 platform can provide the foundation for optimisation, growth and stability you require. Visit www.crkennedy.com.au.
A THREE-STEP STRATEGY FOR BECOMING
A DIGITAL UTILITY by Oracle Utilities
STEP 1: ASSESSING CAPACITY FOR TRANSFORMATION The first step involves gauging the scope of change needed and the ability of the organisation to take the leap necessary to make the change. Within the scope of that assessment, there are technical, cultural and customer aspects to consider. A technical assessment gauges capability and ability: will your utility’s current hardware, software and communications infrastructure be able to handle the new influx of data and the speed required to deal with it effectively? Are your systems built to interconnect? Your organisation’s digital transformation requires you to think outside of individual applications to solve singular problems. Once your systems begin to talking to each other, and your processes become more reliant upon data for quick and agile decision support, the accuracy of the data becomes crucial. Do you have the governance in place to ensure that each piece of critical data has a system of record, one that also allows that data to be used by other systems, processes and people within the organisation in a timely fashion? A cultural assessment takes into account your organisation’s
interest and capability to take on transformation and, specifically, how much effort it will take to change attitudes that might be in conflict with transformation goals. Key executives must take the lead to give these efforts the commitment, strategic clarity, and deep understanding necessary to create an ecosystem for innovation. One of the biggest shifts necessary in the utility organisational culture is the blurring of the lines between technology and process. Across the board, operational groups need to be more open and knowledgeable about how technology can enable the business of business, and IT groups must learn how they become more ingrained in the process of converging operational technology (OT), information technology (IT) and customer technology (CT). Finally, an assessment of the current customer culture is imperative. Are your customers ready for this digital shift? When you roll out new technologies and programs, will they embrace them? How tech-savvy are they? The answers to these questions will tell you how quickly you can move to make changes in customer engagement, and how ready the market is to embrace them.
STEP 2: BUILDING A STRATEGY Transformational efforts typically fail due to the lack of a clear strategic approach and poor execution. It’s roughly equivalent to taking a crosscountry trip without a road map: you can get lost down a lot of side roads, wasting a lot of time, effort and expense, when mapping out the journey at the outset would have allowed for a much smoother journey without surprises along the way. In building your digital strategy roadmap from the starting points determined in your assessments, there are also a few key elements to consider. • Shifting IT’s role from a service provider to a business platform builder. Successful digital transformation strategies will assess and evaluate IT’s role in the utility’s business. Should IT become more integrated? Do operational and transactional business managers need to become more tech-savvy? What are the steps necessary to make these changes? • Breaking down enterprise silos. As information begins to run more fluidly throughout the business, the alignment of processes and people become increasingly important. Rather
For today’s utility – facing increasing pressure to improve both operational performance and customer relationships – adopting a strategy to incorporate digital technologies into enterprise DNA is an imperative. The development of a digital strategy for any utility can be broken down into three fundamental steps.
than continuing to operate in business silos, codependent and cooperative processes must become the norm. • Embracing continued convergence of IT-OT-CT within the business. Make your digital strategy part of your overall business strategy and agenda. As your IT department enables more operations, as your operations staff incorporates and becomes reliant upon more available data, and as customer service becomes more aware of and involved in the entire process, the technologies used by each of them must become more open, more collaborative, and more integrated. • Remember that transformation must also be transitional. It must occur while continuing to focus on reliability, customer satisfaction and continued engagement. Agility will be of prime importance here, in order to balance that focus hand-in-hand with change. The traditional utility approach of long-range planning is not an optimal timeframe for a successful digital transformation. Each utility’s path, based upon both need and necessity, will be different.
STEP 3: EXECUTING YOUR STRATEGY You are now ready to execute your plans. For a successful execution, keep this in mind: • Remember the foundational building blocks for success. Always keep customer-centric ideals front and center throughout the process: Does this benefit the customer? Have we communicated this effectively, internally and externally? • Understand and be able to effectively communicate the benefits of the IT-human interaction, and how it changes the concept of work. Ensure you are able to communicate and demonstrate how new processes will enable the business, and how the better utilisation of technology equals smarter people and smarter results. Finally, invest in enablement. You can take full advantage of new opportunities brought about by new technologies only when everyone involved understands how to use them. • Work with your solution providers, partners, suppliers and customers to build a strategic network. Just
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as collaboration within the organisation is important, outside collaboration can make or break your digital transformation effort. Often, suppliers, fellow utilities, industry standards organisations and regulatory agencies will all have ideas and sometimes have requirements to help you move forward. Working to strengthen those relationships will help to guide your successful transformation into a digital utility. • Reinforce your changes through performance and productivity improvements. Becoming a digital utility is a journey, rather than a destination. Each step in the process may open up new ideas and opportunities for change. It’s also important to keep employees involved not only in the processes, but in recognition of the benefits that your digital transformation is bringing both to the business and to its customers.
For more information, please visit www.oracle.com/utilities
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT WITH FMC
Maintaining complete vegetation management program records across multiple databases and systems can be challenging for electricity transmission and distribution network owners. But in the face of complex and changing regulations, it is critical to record and access detailed and accurate records on historical activities.
eomatic Technologies’ Field Mobile Computing (FMC) software was developed to provide efficient field operations and data capture and its Vegetation Management System (VMS) module is specifically for vegetation management in electricity network environments. VMS has been used in the electricity sector for more than 15 years and has been a proven performer during this time. The module can operate as a stand-alone system or in conjunction with existing infrastructure and can be deployed rapidly into existing ICT environments or hosted by Geomatic Technologies to completely relieve organisations of integration complexities.
VMS users benefit from greater visibility of field operations with added functionality around: • Scheduling works to contractors • Setting standard work procedures • Monitoring work progress • Carrying out auditing of works. VMS also offers comprehensive reporting as a management tool and to comply with external reporting requirements. Dashboards and reports highlight conformance with KPIs to give confidence in vegetation programs at a glance, while alerts and escalation rules provide timely warnings about possible service level breaches.
Geomatic Technologies’ Vegetation Management Solution module drives value through: • Capturing data and defects relating to each asset and work activity including photos, defect records, GIS data and work history • Scheduling and maintaining cutting crews so that the right crew is assigned to the right job • Delivering real-time reports on work progress • Assessment of contractor performance through KPI reporting and desktop auditing • Automation of procedures on field crew mobility devices to ensure compliance • Integration with LiDAR for assessments and visualisation
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WATER COMBATING FUTURE
by Sue Murphy, CEO, Water Corporation
In Western Australia we have seen such a dramatic climate shift over the last 20 years that we talk only of climate resilience.
DEVELOPING NEW SOURCES Groundwater Replenishment Scheme Construction of the full-scale Groundwater Replenishment Scheme began in October 2014 and is expected to be completed in late 2016. In July it was announced the scheme in Craigie will be expanded to produce 28 billion litres of water each year – which is enough to supply 100,000 Perth households with water for a year. Groundwater replenishment is the process by which secondary-treated wastewater undergoes advanced treatment to produce recycled water. The recycled water is recharged to an aquifer for later use as a drinking water source. Water Corporation carried out the most extensive community engagement program it has ever undertaken throughout a three-year trial of groundwater replenishment which began in 2010. A purpose-built visitors centre was constructed at the site of the trial, with more than 11,000 community members touring the site. Public support for the full-scale groundwater replenishment scheme remains steady at around 72 per cent. Surveys taken of people who visited the trial plant indicate support of over 90 per cent once people have a thorough understanding of the processes involved in groundwater replenishment. Groundwater replenishment could supply up to 20 per cent of Perth’s drinking water needs by 2060. Seawater desalination There are two desalination plants that supply water for Perth, which have the capacity to supply around half of Perth’s current water needs – about 145 billion litres a year. The Perth Seawater Desalination Plant was the first of its kind in Australia. Commissioned in 2006 it has the capacity to produce 45 billion litres of water per year. The Southern Seawater Desalination Plant was built in two stages – the first was completed and operational in 2011 and the second stage was completed in 2013. The Southern Seawater Desalination Plant has the
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ince the 1970s Perth’s rainfall has reduced by around 15 per cent but inflows to dams have declined much more dramatically. Historically, Perth’s dams received about 350 billion litres per annum in streamflow – and the Perth scheme uses about 300 billion litres a year – so that was a balanced system. Last year, Perth’s dams only received 11.4 billion litres of inflow. To put this into perspective – this is less than four per cent of what our customers connected to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS) use each year. We have planned ahead to secure water supplies in our drying climate, producing 50-year plans (published in 2009) and a ten-year plan (published in 2011) under the Water Forever title. The Water Forever plans are based on a three-pronged approach, which includes working with the community to develop new water sources, reducing water use and increasing the amount of water recycled.
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capacity to supply up to 100 billion litres of water each year.
REDUCING WATER USE Since 2001, Water Corporation customers in Perth reduced their per person water use by around 30 per cent. However, Perth households remain some of the largest users of water in any major capital city in Australia. We continue to work with our business and industrial customers to help reduce their water use. Last year we saved over 105 billion litres of water in Perth through a range of water efficiency initiatives introduced over the last decade. This includes permanent water saving measures – such as sprinkler rosters and the winter sprinkler ban. Many people do not realise that over 40 per cent of water use in the home occurs outside in the garden, so abiding by the sprinkler roster is just one way households can help save
SHOWERHEAD SWAP PROGRAM CURRENTLY UNDERWAY IN PERTH AND MANDURAH.
water in our drying climate. The winter sprinkler ban has been a permanent water saving measure since 2010. The ban was introduced on the basis that gardens don’t need as much water during the cooler, wetter months. Last year, the winter sprinkler ban saved around 4.5 billion litres of water. The sprinkler rosters in place across the state save around 53 billion litres of water each year – simply by ensuring water is not wasted on the garden. At the moment we also have a free Showerhead Swap Program underway across Perth. Through this program our customers can exchange up to two of their old showerheads for two new water efficient ones through Bunnings Warehouse – saving up to 7,000 litres of water per showerhead each year. Earlier this year, we launched a waterwise verge incentive scheme, which will provide endorsed Waterwise
Councils up to $10,000 each year to create best practice verge policies consistent with the new guidelines, and administer verge incentive schemes. The Waterwise Verge Best Practice Guidelines were developed in consultation with local government and the landscape industry, incorporating learnings from previous verge policies and best practice landscape design principles. The intention of the guidelines is to provide a benchmarking tool for local government to assess how their own policies compare with best practice. There are many benefits of installing a waterwise verge, not only will it save water, but it will contribute to a cooling effect and counteract the heat island effect in summer. A waterwise verge can also provide a natural habitat for native wildlife and promote biodiversity in our neighbourhoods. We want to provide people with a choice, and encourage residents to consider using waterwise plants that better suit our drying climate and hot summers. We also work closely with a range of businesses and industries across Western Australia to help them reduce their water use. Saving water benefits businesses in a number of ways, including reducing longterm operational costs and demonstrating their commitment to sustainable operations in our drying climate. For example, we work with every business in WA which uses more than 20 million litres of scheme water each year through our Water Efficiency Management Plan Program. Through the program, businesses make permanent changes to their operations, which continue to deliver savings in the long-term. More than 300 businesses are involved in the program, which has saved around 60 billion litres of water since it began in 2007. Working with our customers to reduce water use continues to be an important part of our plans to secure water supplies in the drying climate. In the water industry we are in a unique position in that we actually encourage our customers to use less of our product! While we’ll always have enough water, we’ll never have enough to waste.
The Path to Cleaner Water
Non - dangerous goods
Effectively removes phosphorous
Very low impact on pH
No sulphates – reducing sulphide
Reduces sludge volumes
Advocates Experiences: “Stopped dosing lime and soda ash for pH and Alkalinity correction” “Substantial reduction in chemical dosage and aluminium residuals” “Superior membrane filtration performance”
MidCoast Water | Snowy Works & Services | Cowra SC | Singleton C Call us for technical assistance and evaluation of your water process +61 2 9624 1333 www.hardman.com.au
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INCREASING WATER RECYCLING Over the last 10 years the volume of recycled wastewater has increased by more than 70 per cent across the state. In Perth, this includes groundwater replenishment, irrigation of parks and ovals with recycled water and providing fit-for-purpose water for industrial use at the Kwinana Water Recycling Plant. We use recycled water for operations at some of our major wastewater treatment plants in Perth. Recycled water from the Subiaco Wastewater Treatment Plant is used to irrigate the McGillivray Sports Park and grounds and gardens at the wastewater treatment plant. This allows green spaces to be maintained while reducing demand on precious drinking water supplies. Our planning to date has ensured Perth’s water supply scheme made it through the worst inflows on record last year. However, water supply planning is not static – we are constantly responding and adapting to changing
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST FULL-SCALE GROUNDWATER REPLENISHMENT SCHEME UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN CRAIGIE.
circumstances, including climate, by identifying and adding new sources when needed. We’ll continue on our Water Forever journey to build a water supply scheme where we no longer rely on rain as a source of water.
innovative safety solutions.
The Integrated Water Supply Scheme provides drinking water for nearly 1.9 million customers in Perth, Mandurah, parts of the South West, and those connected to the Goldfields pipeline.
Put an end to back injury.
QLD Distributor 07 5563 2197 firstname.lastname@example.org www.massproducts.com.au
NSW Distributor 1300 764 479 email@example.com www.odours.com.au
VIC Distributor 1800 924 939 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cleanawater.com.au
Head Office: 1/38 Export Drive Molendinar 4214 QLD Phone: +61 755 632 197 1300 191 960 Email: email@example.com Web: hpagency.com.au
WATER AND WASTEWATER INDUSTRY
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Managing the risk of falls in the
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Working around sewage pits can be dangerous due to the high risk of falling. To ensure the safety of workers, companies should implement grates and covers that reduce trip hazards, have the correct load rating specifications and give workers pit access without being exposed to open wells.
n early September 2016, a council employee working with an external contractor to pump sewage pits in Far North Queensland fell more than seven metres into the well. According to Workplace Health and Safety, the incident happened while the council worker was replacing grates covering the sewage pit. Local media reported the man, aged in his 30s, escaped with minor head and shoulder injuries, but the outcome could have been much worse. Australia has strict codes of practice designed to protect workers whose jobs involve heights and confined spaces, and for good reason – these are high-risk but vital activities. Persons Conducting an Undertaking or Business (PCBU) have the primary duty of care under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, “to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking”. Further, the employer is expected to manage the risk of falls. Safe Work Australia statistics showed 232 workers were killed following a fall from a height between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2011, 11 per cent of all workers killed in this period. HP Agency director, Paul Harazim, said while fewer people died in these types of circumstances than 20 years ago, he believed one death was one too many. “There is no need for these types of accidents to happen; the worker in Far North Queensland had a lucky escape and could’ve been more seriously hurt, or worse,” he said. Safe Work Australia recorded 12 deaths where workers fell into a pit or hole between July 2003 and June
2011, half of which occurred at mine sites. In that same period, three workers fell into sewer pits. They died from asphyxiation rather than injuries from the fall. Claims for serious injury due to a fall from a height totalled 7730 in 2010/11. “Workplace injuries and fatalities cause heartbreak for families and are costly for employers. They also tarnish a business’s reputation,” Mr Harazim said. “Falls from heights are easily preventable if compliant access covers and safety grates are installed and workers adhere to the regulations.” Mr Harazim said his observations at pumping stations and reservoirs across Australia in recent years revealed a number of disturbing safety issues. “Despite the strict regulations, many workers are still forced to lift overweight access covers and risk tripping over raised hinges on access covers and covers that exceed the 6mm height restriction,” he said. “It’s also concerning to see traditional fixings, such as chemical anchors and Dynabolts, still being used in harsh environments like sewer pumping stations to support safety nets and grating panels; it’s impractical to test the integrity of each and every one of those fixings. “Another recurring issue is the use of access covers made from general purpose materials which don’t meet load rating specifications. Not all these covers are old and outdated; some were actually designed in Australia in recent years. “Ultimately, workers should be able to safely carry out maintenance without needing to remove or lift the grating panel, unless they need to enter the pit. If they do, the panel
should be easy to open and the only time the worker is required to be anchored. The technology is available.” Mr Harazim said while in the process of developing a system to address the prevalence of noncompliant access covers and gratings for a variety of sites, he learnt of a US-based company which had the answers. “Halliday Products has been developing technology and innovative products for the water and wastewater industry for 45 years. “It’s the largest aluminium and stainless steel access cover manufacturer in the United States, designing and selling products that eliminate risk for pump station workers. “Halliday Products not only meet Australian standards, but exceed them and are covered by a lifetime guarantee.” HP Agency is the exclusive Australian agent and marketer for Halliday Products, which was introduced to the market in 2014. The company’s innovative solutions to trip hazards include flush-mounted lock boxes and pull-up handles, heavy-duty flush hinges and flush-mounted access covers. Halliday Products’s grate system does not interfere with pump rails and gives workers access to all electrical equipment for calibration, without being exposed to an open well. Pump services can also be carried out without exposing anyone while the pump is being removed and cleaned. “Every worker should be able to return home safely to his or her family at the end of every work day. It’s the responsibility of his or her PCBU to do their best to see that it happens.”
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PIONEERING PIPING SYSTEM FOR A WORLD-CLASS STADIUM
Sustainable and efficient, Viega’s high-grade piping system always keeps Ireland’s world-class Aviva Stadium at the right temperature, no matter how cold it is outside or how heated the game is on the pitch.
“Football is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians; rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen” – at least that’s what rugby fans say. The “ruffians” and “gentlemen” of the Republic of Ireland’s football and rugby teams respectively have been sharing a home in Dublin since 1872. For decades, both played at the historic but run-down Lansdowne Road ground. Then in May 2010, the 51,700-seater Aviva Stadium was opened as the new sporting temple of the sports-mad Irish on the same hallowed site. Since then, the fourtiered horseshoe-shaped arena, which won a British Construction Industry Award in 2011, has also played host to stars including Madonna, Lady Gaga and AC/DC. Stadium fans enjoy top-class water supply and heating, thanks to the Viega Propress copper piping
system throughout the drinking water installation, and the galvanised steel Prestabo system used for the heating installation. Although Viega did not receive the invitation to tender until very late in the process, its Propress and Prestabo products were ultimately chosen. Aviva Stadium planners were also impressed by the functional Smart Connect feature – which only Viega pressfit connectors provide – and its double pressing technology. The contract was won even though press connectors had, up to that point, been practically unknown in Ireland. There is another reason why pressconnection technology has had such success internationally (including in Australia for a decade) – enhanced on-site work safety, particularly compared to brazing/soldering. As pressing involves no open flame, and
so poses no fire hazard, no fire safety measures are needed. Consequently, press-connected pipes can often even be installed in explosive industrial environments without interrupting production operations. Viega press technology combines rapid yet safe installation with longterm reliability. In fact, there is up to 75 per cent time saving compared with conventional brazing. It also consistently utilises ultra-hygienic material such as copper and stainless steel, which ensures hygienic operation and guarantees reliable material quality, a long lifespan and tremendous versatility.
For more information about Aviva Stadium and Viega’s products, visit www.viega.com.au.
A STADIUM BUILT FOR WORLD-CLASS PERFORMANCES. And a piping system that delivers unparalleled heating installations. In a stadium where so much is on the line, you should team up with a partner that meets the highest demands for quality, performance and reliability when it comes to heating installations. Sustainable and efficient, our high-grade piping system always keeps Irelandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most modern stadium at the right temperature, no matter how cold it is outside or how heated the game is on the pitch. Viega. Connected in quality.
Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
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Solutions for water
QUALITY AND TREATMENT MANAGEMENT Established in 2011, Optimos Solutions aims to lead the way in advanced solutions for the management of water quality and water treatment processes.
ptimos Solutions’s ZAPS Technologies LiquID™ Station – a real-time, multi-parameter water quality analyser – uses hybrid multispectral analysis, a patented technology which employs three different optical measurement techniques – absorbance, fluorescence and scattering – using a single optical platform. This approach allows the real-time measurement of a wide range of water quality parameters including BOD, E.coli, Total THMs, VFAs, Blue Green Algae and many more. Several LiquID stations are working in Australia on monitoring applications including municipal WWTP influent, WTP raw water and drinking water distribution systems. Recently, Optimos added four new technologies to its portfolio – the Blue I Technologies Smart LEA, the NEPSUS CBOM advanced wastewater treatment process, the Silecte disinfection media from Claire Technologies and an advanced remote communications and data management technology from Ayyeka. The Blue I Technologies Smart LEA (Low Energy Analyser) was developed specifically for the monitoring of drinking water distribution systems. A combination of low-energy consuming components and smart energy management software allows the Smart LEA to operate, using a compact on-board battery pack, for up to two years. Monitoring pH, ORP, free chlorine, turbidity, conductivity, temperature, pressure, and able to accept a flow input, its data is viewable and downloadable via the Blue I WUI (Web User Interface). A range of event-based water quality alerts and can be easily configured by the user. The Smart LEA is small, portable and can be simply installed in remote and difficult-to-access locations. The Nepsus Continuous Backwash Oxidative Microfiltration (CBOM) is a wastewater treatment technology process that is low-cost (both capital and operating costs) and ideally suited to decentralised applications including regional utilities, new subdivisions, resorts, mining camps and military bases. It is largely independent of biological processes, which makes it robust and resilient to rapidly changing loads. Its modular design allows the addition of nutrient removal and
disinfection processes (including membranes), enabling the process to produce a wide range of fit-for-purpose treated water qualities. Claire Technologies’s SilecteTM disinfection media requires no power and no chemical addition. The germicidal effect is applied during the manufacturing process and the fluid stream, whether treated wastewater or potable water, has to directly contact the Silecte media surface for rapid disinfection. Silecte does not contain or produce disinfection byproducts, so there is no negative environmental impact on the receiving waters and the applications are myriad – from POU and POE domestic drinking water disinfection to large municipal and industrial applications. Its reported log removal capabilities are impressive across a wide range of pathogens. Ayyeka’s integrated cross-platform solutions are comprised of Ayyeka’s Wavelet hardware – the core of the
monitoring kit – which collects and transmits monitored data. The Wavelet is preconfigured to autonomously operate best-of-breed sensors, enabling large-scale deployment of smart networks. The collected data is seamlessly transmitted to a private cloud server, accessible through Ayyeka’s WUI-based data management system. Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) and thirdparty integration are additionally available through an API. Optimos continues to search out synergistic and complementary technologies and focus on providing holistic and managed solutions for water security.
Mobile: +61 409 359 155 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
EXPERIENCE TO TAKE ON THE CHALLENGES
hen it comes to safely delivering a successful drilling project there are a number of factors involved. Company safety culture, experience and a willingness to listen to and understand the project’s needs are key. This includes the driller’s knowledge and experience used to identify the most appropriate drilling method and also having alternative methods available when conditions change. This is particularly important when it comes to working in challenging conditions while delivering successful outcomes for all stakeholders. Bunbury Drilling Company (BDC) has over 60 years’ experience drilling for the mining, agricultural and public water supply industries, and for more than a decade has been able to deliver every project they have been involved in safely, on time, and on or under budget. BDC has worked continuously in the Pilbara since 2011 and is experienced with coal mine
projects, such as dewatering and pressure relief, as well as deep sedimentary drilling to depths of 1,000 metres. BDC is armed with the experience to be able to take on challenging projects and the company has, in a number of instances, stepped in to take on failed projects and has successfully completed them on each occasion.
TURNING IT AROUND A project that BDC was contracted to recover was a drilling program in the West Pilbara. When BDC was called in, the original contractor had been unable to complete a single bore after 12 months of drilling using multiple rigs. BDC General Manager, Dale McLeod, said the project involved the installation of production and monitoring bores which were to be used for dewatering. “Over the course of 12 months BDC drilled and installed more than 28 bores
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between 100 and 230 metres in depth, safely, on time and under budget.”
THE CHALLENGE Mr McLeod said the major challenge that the previous contractor came across was the ground conditions, which in this case were reactive clays. Reactive clay swells when in contact with water, either from the formation or from the drilling process, and can also shrink when it is dry. This creates a range of issues that can lead to the loss of the drilled hole if not managed appropriately. “BDC had a better understanding of how to control the hydrodynamic conditions in the formation, resulting in successful drilling and construction on every site,” said Mr McLeod. “We know the best drilling methodologies to utilise to control the formation’s reaction to drilling operations – experience really does count.”
Delivering drilling excellence for over 60 years
SAFE EFFICIENT EXPERIENCED
MINING | COAL SEAM GAS | WATER SUPPLY email@example.com | www.bdc.com.au | P: (08) 9725 4104
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THE GLASS IS HALF FULL FOR ADELAIDE RIVER The township of Adelaide River is found on the Stuart Highway 110km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. With an approximate population of 250 people, the town provides a warm welcome for many travellers, but when tourists turned on the tap, the welcome was a little tainted.
delaide River’s drinking water is drawn from a series of bores that contain elevated and variable concentrations of iron and manganese, causing the water to be discoloured and have an unpleasant taste. In July 2015, alongside Power and Water Corporation in the Northern Territory, SUEZ and joint venture partner Goodline commissioned a new $6 million biological filtration plant to address the issue, and provide locals and travellers with clean and clear water. “The objectives of the project were to ensure the supply of safe drinking water complying with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and to address the persistent aesthetic problems experienced by the local community,” said Tom Burns, General Manager of Design and Build at SUEZ. Bringing together a team of in-house experts with years of operational experience, and partnering with a local expert constructor to design and build the plant, the new process was quite simple in nature. The upgrade consisted of a two-stage process applying advanced biological technology to remove the compounds in a cost-effective way. The proposed solution was a first in Australia and removed the need for complex chemical systems. Two pressurised filters were inserted in the existing water line, located between the bore pumps network and a series of disinfection and clear water storage tanks. Additional equipment such as backwash pumps were also installed, providing a fully-automated operation. SUEZ’s biological technologies, Ferazur™ and Mangazur™ were installed at the Adelaide River Water Treatment Plant to remove the iron and manganese.
Iron and manganese can be removed by two different types of bacteria which are naturally present in groundwater; each of them require a different environment for the best performance. A process consisting of two successive biological iron and manganese removal filters were installed for the most effective operation. In order to guarantee water quality from the plant through to customers’ taps, the township’s entire downstream water distribution systems were also cleaned with an innovative ice pigging process. Ice pigging is a global SUEZ solution which uses the naturally abrasive properties of ice to remove biofilm and sediment. More than 8km of mains pipes were cleaned with 440kg of suspended soils removed. Mr Burns said Power and Water had been receiving a regular stream of complaints relating to the discoloured water since 2006. “Since the commissioning of the WTP, positive feedback has been received from the community regarding the water quality and complaints have been reduced to zero,” he said. After the first 12 months of operation, the plant continues to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Eric Vanweydeveld, Senior Project Manager at Power and Water, said the collaborative approach between SUEZ and Power and Water led to lower costs, better value for money and a high-quality treatment facility. “SUEZ’s project team maintained a cooperative and positive relationship with Power and Water and demonstrated significant technical competence in terms of water treatment, risk management, constructability and commissioning. SUEZ’s project team successfully managed the planning, execution, and closing of the project ensuring that the key issues of safety, cost, time, quality and client satisfaction have been realised,” said Mr Vanweydeveld. “It’s a huge step forward for Adelaide River to really bring their drinking water in line with everywhere else in Australia, to make water out of the tap look like it should,” said the then Primary Industries and Deputy Chief Minister of Northern Territory at the plant’s opening in December 2015.
DBO contracts enable Australian water utilities and industries to outsource financial and performance challenges during the design, build and operation phases of water infrastructure projects.
to optimise your capital and operating expenditure, we can design, build and operate your water facility
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TAKES A LEAP FORWARD by Jürgen Skowaisa, Product Management Radar, VEGA
VEGA has launched the first radar level sensor for liquids that measures with a frequency of 80 gigahertz onto the market with the VEGAPULS 64.
IN THE VEGAPULS 64 THE RADIATION ANGLE IS NOW ONLY 3°. THIS ENABLES THE SENSOR TO MEASURE THE LEVEL RELIABLY IN CONTAINERS WITH AGITATORS OR INSTALLATIONS SUCH AS HEATING COILS.
THE SMALLEST ANTENNA OF THE VEGAPULS 64 IS NO BIGGER THAN A ONE EURO COIN. THIS MAKES THE NEW RADAR SENSOR IDEAL FOR INSTALLATION IN SMALL CONTAINERS.
he biggest advantage the VEGAPULS 64 is the better focus of the radar beam. Greater reliability is now achieved, even under the most difficult conditions, such as internal structures, low reflectivity, build up, surface foam and condensation. Radar level transmitters have largely replaced previous equipment including float-based systems or ultrasound devices in many areas of industry. Areas of application have gradually been expanded so that users are using this technology more and more. VEGA has now installed more than half a million radar sensors worldwide. 18 months ago, thanks to some new developments in electronic components, VEGA launched the VEGAPULS 69, an 80 gigahertz (GHz) bulk solids radar level sensor onto the market. This device was revolutionary,
THE VEGAPULS 64 ALSO PROVIDES A RELIABLE MEASUREMENT EVEN IN FOAM, EXTREMELY TURBULENT FILLING MATERIAL SURFACES, CON-
because it used this higher measuring frequency with a narrower focusing of the radar beam, delivering a major leap forward in bulk solids level measurement. Consequently, it was no real surprise that there was demand for a high frequency radar level sensor for liquids. Measurement of liquid level also presents many challenges, including agitators and other internal installations, build up in the vessel or deep pump shafts. In applications with very high signal attenuation or interference reflections, the measuring tasks could previously only be solved with a great deal of technical input or by accepting some performance limitations. Now VEGA has set a new milestone: the VEGAPULS 64 is the world’s first level sensor for liquids that also uses the 80GHz frequency range.
DENSATION AND CAKING.
Once again, this enhanced focusing helps to further distinguish the level measurement signal from interfering signals, especially in containers with internal installations.
TESTED COMPONENTS VEGA launched the VEGAPULS 64 in May 2016. The advantage for the user is that some of the electronics and technologies have been adopted from the bulk solids radar measuring instrument. This means that tested, proven components are already available, but there are still some significant differences. The VEGAPULS 64 operates with a 4GHz bandwidth, so that an even better, clearer separation of all the reflected signals is possible. Of course, the parameters and application configurations that are stored in the measuring instrument have naturally been adapted and
A perfect view â&#x20AC;&#x201C; even with condensation! The future is 80 GHz: a new generation of radar level sensors
For the latest generation of radars, condensate on the sensor is not an issue. Totally unaffected by condensation or buildup on the antenna, VEGAPULS 64 accurately detects the liquid level. With the smallest antenna of its kind and exceptional focusing, it delivers outstanding performance every time. Simply world-class! www.vega.com/radar
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optimised to liquids applications.
UNIQUE FOCUSING AND DYNAMIC RESPONSE This higher frequency has a number of advantages. The VEGAPULS 64 radar sensor, using 80GHz, offers better focusing and a great dynamic response. A radar sensor can only measure the correct filling level when a correct filling level echo is available. If interfering signals have the same form as the level echo, a reliable measurement is very difficult. Previously, with 26GHz transmission frequency, the beam angle with an antenna size of DN80 was approximately 10° with a radar sensor. With the VEGAPULS 64, the beam angle is much more focussed at only 3°. This results in a sensor which can now also be used reliably in containers with installations or even build up stuck to the container wall, because the narrower measurement beam simply passes by them. The dynamic range, or sensitivity of a radar sensor (i.e. the difference between the largest and smallest signals it can distinguish), defines which areas of application it can be used in. The greater the dynamic response, the higher the measuring certainty and thus the wider the range of applications it can be used on. The VEGAPULS 64 has an extremely wide dynamic range – never before has there been a radar sensor for liquid applications which can cover a range as wide as this. This means that media with poor reflective properties, such as a low dielectric, can be measured more effectively than with previous radar sensors. This greater measuring certainty enables a reliable liquid level measurement with surface foam, on extremely turbulent filling level surfaces, even with condensation or deposits on the antenna. The transmitter accuracy is +/-2mm and the filling level can also be measured very close to the bottom of the container. EASY INSTALLATION AND COMMISSIONING The commissioning of the VEGAPULS
THE RIGHT SENSOR DESIGN FOR EVERY APPLICATION: THE VEGAPULS 64 HAS A VARIETY OF ANTENNA SYSTEMS IN DIFFERENT SIZES.
64 is already much easier, because the complicated interfering signal mapping is largely dispensed with. The plics®, concept with which the new VEGAPULS 64 is designed, brings all the usual additional convenience. In addition, the very narrow measuring beam makes it easier to mount the VEGAPULS 64 onto existing nozzles and upstands which would have before caused problems. This is very interesting for applications where the complete container is governed by pressure testing and insurance regulations, and not easily modified. Normally a long narrow nozzle creates interfering signals; however, because of the focused measuring beam of the VEGAPULS 64, it avoids internal edges, so that there is no need to re-engineer the mounting for a reliable measurement. The measuring instrument has different antenna systems and sizes. At present, the thread sizes ¾” (beam angle 14°), 1 ½” (7°), DN 50 (6°) and DN 80 (3°) are available. The plastic antenna is an excellent solution for good focusing in many applications. Thanks to the tighter focusing, users can often work with a much smaller antenna than before. The smallest antenna is no bigger than a one dollar coin, so that the new measuring instrument is an ideal solution for installation in small containers.
The new radar level sensors have been installed since December 2015, with a pilot series of 200 test sensors in different industries and applications worldwide. Like for the bulk material radar, applications were chosen that were previously considered as problematic or impossible to measure reliably. In these applications, the echo curves were recorded to further process and optimise the sensor performance on this basis. The first series instruments will be coming onto the market in May. It is already evident that the new VEGAPULS 64 radar level sensor will become a problem solver in storage and reaction vessels with many internal installations and agitators. The sensor has demonstrated itself to be insensitive to extreme process conditions, foam or caking. Even containers with heating coils, or narrow pump shafts in wastewater treatment, are applications the new VEGAPULS 64 masters with ease. Thanks to its small process connections, it is highly effective in many applications in the pharmaceutical and food industries. New process connections will be offered, with all PTFE wetted materials for use in an aseptic area, and they will meet the requirements of 3A, FDA and EHEDG. Approvals for use in hazardous areas are also available. For more information about the VEGAPULS 64, head to www.vega.com.
Making the Invisible, Visible The identification and protection of underground assets not only prevents interruptions to vital services caused by accidental damage during excavation, it plays a critical role in helping to prevent serious incidents and injuries.
The VAC Group uses the latest technologies and innovations in locating underground utilities, as well as true non-destructive vacuum excavation. Australia's largest fleet of Vacuum Excavation trucks
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Computer Aided Radar Tomography (CART) the only product in Australia that delivers underground video In house Australian-engineered and built equipment
EMI utility location services
The VAC Group offers industry-leading service, utilising the very latest suite of equipment and solutions to ensure all utilities are effectively located and where required, safely exposed.
EARTH SPY SOIL TRANSFER
T: 1300 882 834 (24 Hour Service) E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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WASTEWATER PUMPING WITH
INTEGRATED INTELLIGENCE by Stefan M. Abelin, Director, Project Management, Xylem
Improved system reliability, reduced energy consumption, operational flexibility, reduced footprint, connectivity and a lower pump system lifecycle cost can all be achieved with integrated intelligence in wastewater pumping.
he word ‘intelligent’ in wastewater pumping is a result of factors that together contribute to a new level of operational autonomy and efficiency – a pumping system designed to automatically deliver the desired performance at minimum energy consumption while reducing the total cost of ownership. The word ‘pumping’ is used to indicate that the affected operational area has been expanded from the pump itself to include the hardware – functionality that resides both in a wastewater pump, pump controls and external communication technology. A typical submersible wastewater pump station consists of two pumps and a control panel that operates a sewage lift station based on varying liquid levels and an on/off controller, whereas new integrated intelligent wastewater pump systems consist of a submersible wastewater pump with integrated control, power electronics and a pump station controller unit that operates the sewage pump station. The in-pump processor controls the power electronics to achieve the variable pump performance needed to meet demands. A single impeller size per volute size minimises the need for multiple spare impellers and yields maximum hydraulic efficiency as the impeller is optimised for the volute. Instead of having to remove the pump to trim or change an impeller, a different duty point can simply be met by the touch of a button. A new, simpler and more compact
high-performance synchronous motor further improves pump system efficiency allowing operation at reduced pump capacity with maintained high motor efficiency. The concentrated winding synchronous motor does this and meets the proposed future superpremium motor efficiency standards (IE4). The new system features soft-start, pump clog detection, pump cleaning, advanced motor protection and always correct impeller rotation. The pump station controller can handle up to four pumps and provides pump system management functions such as pump energy minimiser, sump cleaning and pipe cleaning function, pump sequencing and alternation. The pump’s drive unit is an assembly consisting of monitoring and control circuitry, software, power electronics and a synchronous motor in a single package. Using a new motor design – the concentrated winding design – provides benefits such as increased motor efficiency, controllability, improved low-speed efficiency and reduced size. The pump station controller allows for data communication and analysis, providing communication to the outside via standard communication protocols. The pump station can be easily connected to remote station monitoring systems including Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Integrated intelligence also creates opportunities for reduced control
panel footprint, both physically, environmentally and in your wallet. Reduction of CO2 emissions will result from installations with intelligent pumps and a pump station controller. The reduced physical footprint is due to relocation of major components from the control panel to within the submersible pump, as well as the compactness of new components – a result of innovation, adaptation and integration of technology. The powerful and patented energy minimising software algorithm ensures the lift station is always operated at the minimum specific energy level (kWh/m3), given the prevailing head and flow requirements. The pumps are soft-started and soft-stopped and the integrated pump clog detection function will protect the pumps from clogging by triggering a pump cleaning cycle, preventing unnecessary service calls. The sump and pipe cleaning functions will ensure that the pump sump is kept free of sediment, floatables and fat. Power and motor protection functions will also protect the motor from supply grid issues and thermal overloads. Additionally, the system will ensure complete knowledge of what’s going on with the pumps and the system. Local and remote operational data, such as pump and station status information, warnings and alarms, are readily available and user-configurable to suit different system requirements.
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This revolutionary system delivers optimal performance while reducing your total cost of ownership. It also offers unparalleled flexibility and simplicity on a whole new level. You might even say it thinks for itself. We invite you to enter a new era in wastewater pumping with Flygt Concertor. One powerful solution. Unlimited possibilities.
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CHALLENGING PIPE RENEWAL RECOGNISED BY INDUSTRY
A pipe renewal project beneath one of Melbourne’s busiest roads has won an award for its successful delivery under demanding conditions, which included maintaining 24 hour water service to buildings, not disrupting high volumes of traffic or tram services, minimising risk to other major underground services, and engaging with numerous high-profile stakeholders.
outh East Water and Interflow have won the Victorian Civil Contractors Earth Award, Category 2 (projects $1m to $5m) for the St Kilda Road Main Renewal Project which involved the replacement of a 1.4km section of a 135-year-old water main that runs under one of Melbourne’s major roads. The project involved replacing a section of the old water main, from Armadale Street to Henry Street, with PE100 PN16 polyethylene pipe that had an outside diameter of 355mm. This section of the main was approaching end-of-life, and replacing it was critical to ensure ongoing reliable water supply in such a busy and highly populated area. The Earth Award recognised the innovative methods used by Interflow
and South East Water to overcome the project’s many challenges and ensure there was minimal disruption to the area. The location of the main meant the project had the potential to impact the Alfred Hospital, Bicycle Network, Federal Police, two Melbourne Fire Brigade districts (MFB), two local councils, two schools, two foreign consulates, Yarra Trams, 28 businesses including cafes and major company headquarters, as well as 6,500 residential apartments. One of the main requirements of the project was that water services to surrounding buildings had to remain operational, including the 24 hour operation of fire service mains. St Kilda Road is also a high traffic and tram area, so construction works were not allowed to affect traffic during the day or tram services at any time. To ensure an uninterrupted water supply, Interflow set up 200m sections of temporary above-ground pipework parallel to the water main and water supply was diverted to the temporary pipe and transported to all buildings along the pipeline’s route. Interflow carried out all pipe laying work at night and was able to restore the road by morning to allow traffic to resume. This fast turnaround was achieved by removing only 20m of the old main each night, laying the new polyethylene pipe and connecting it to the previous section before backfilling. Working on 20m each night complied with the City of Melbourne’s requirements that the maximum length of an open trench had to be less than 30 metres, and where possible, the trench was deepened so there was 1.2m of
cover over the pipe to fit requirements from VicRoads. The other major challenge in the pipe’s installation involved ensuring the safety of other major underground assets including other water mains, high-pressure gas mains, and electricity and communication cables, as these all crossed over the existing water main. To minimise risk to other services, Interflow performed careful excavation and pipe handling, and for some parts a ‘dog leg’ of steel pipework was fabricated to allow the new main to clear other existing assets. Since work was completed in early September 2015, the industry has taken note of the project’s delivery and, in particular, the collaborative way Interflow and South East Water worked together to not only complete the project but also manage all community and stakeholder engagement. Of particular note was a survey of residents and businesses, which found that 84 per cent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied about the project’s ability to minimise disruption. The new water main is now expected to exceed the 130-year service life of the old main.
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TRANSFORMERS & SUBSTATIONS
TRANSFORMERS & SUBSTATIONS
GOING FOR GOLD In order to prepare Queensland’s electricity network for the significant power use increase expected during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation is receiving a $25 million overhaul including isolator replacements and a new transformer.
he recent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio has highlighted the scrutiny that host cities of major sporting events experience, as the world watches and judges whether they have done the event justice. To make sure the upcoming Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games runs smoothly and impresses a global audience of 1.5 billion, the Queensland Government is investing in the city’s electric grid infrastructure. As one of the main power supply hubs on the Gold Coast, Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation was chosen to be upgraded in order to improve the reliability of the city’s transmission
network. Condition assessments of the plant were undertaken with several pieces of equipment identified as near the end of their useful life. Queensland Minister for Energy, Mark Bailey, said the upgrade is the lowest cost option for consumers to extend the life of the substation. “Rather than undertake a major replacement, Powerlink will upgrade specific parts to further extend the life of the existing substation. This investment approach is focused on keeping long-run transmission costs as low as possible,” Mr Bailey said. Works to the substation include selective VT, CT and isolator
replacements throughout the 110kV yard and the replacement of two feeder bays (apart from bus isolators). There will also be upgrades to selected aging bay secondary systems employing IEC 61850 technology standards. This will require the installation of a new small control building to house the associated panels, telecommunications and battery systems. The upgrade will also see a new 250MVA transformer replace the current aging transformer which is now over 40 years old. While in the existing control building, new battery banks and selective 125VDC and 50VDC rewiring work will be undertaken. The entire
TRANSFORMERS & SUBSTATIONS THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT IS INVESTING $25 MILLION TO IMPROVE THE GOLD COAST’S TRANSMISSION NETWORK.
WORKERS AT POWERLINK’S MUDGEERABA SUBSTATION
upgrade is expected to create around 50 local jobs.
MANAGING TEMPORARY LOAD INCREASES During the Commonwealth Games in 2018, power load is expected to significantly increase then reduce again after the event. Rather than investing in temporary infrastructure upgrades to manage the increased demand, the Mudgeeraba Substation upgrades are designed to improve the long-term outcomes of the network, in addition to during the games. Powerlink has identified that the capacity the network deals with for normal summer peak loads will be sufficient to cope with the higher load during the games. The upgrade will therefore ensure the equipment is in
the best condition to deal with this peak demand. Looking further into the future, Powerlink has also identified that there may be an opportunity to rationalise this site to a two transformer configuration based on longer-term load growth projections. After the Commonwealth Games, the remaining original 250MVA transformer will be considered for replacement or decommissioning, with Powerlink to undertake an external consultation with all impacted stakeholders.
CONTINUING IMPROVEMENTS Work on Mudgeeraba Substation has been ongoing since the 1970s, with feeder bays installed in 1981 and 2001, capacitor bank bays added in 1989 and 1994, and work on the transformer/bay
undertaken in 1991 and 2007. Powerlink Queensland Chief Executive, Merryn York, said substation system designs and standards have changed significantly since the early 1970s and will continue to improve in the future. “We want to play our part in GC2018, so the focus of the work will be on replacing the systems which allow us to better manage our network in this region,” Ms York said. “These systems are critical to operating and monitoring our assets and responding rapidly to any unexpected issues that may arise.” Work on Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation began in June 2016 and is expected to be complete by early 2017, prior to the start of the Commonwealth Games on 4 April 2018.
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ELECTRICAL SUPPLY TO MELBOURNE’S CBD
The first thing that strikes you when you arrive at the Brunswick Terminal Station (BTS) is the level of activity. The site is a hive of industry, with equipment and people engaged in a wide variety of tasks required for the massive brownfield upgrade of the AusNet Services station.
ocated less than six kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, the scale and complexity of the project, which started construction in October 2014, is immense. As one of the major contractors on site, Zinfra is tasked with delivering the majority of the construction and installation of new station assets, within constraints imposed by environmental, community and stakeholder management challenges. BTS currently provides electricity through the CitiPower and Jemena electricity distribution networks to about 25,000 customers in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne, operating as a 220kV terminal station with 220kV connections to Thomastown Terminal Station (TTS) and Richmond Terminal Station (RTS). Three 75MVA 220/22kV transformers supply the CitiPower 22kV distribution network. The upgrade of the terminal station will help secure the electricity supply to Melbourne’s central business district and inner suburbs, and ultimately supply an additional 65,000 residential and business customers. Technically, this involves
the installation of a new 66kV network connection point for CitiPower. This project introduces new 220kV and 66kV Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS), three 220/66kV 225MVA B transformers, two 66kV capacitor banks, associated secondary control and protection equipment, and testing and commissioning. The existing terminal station site will initially be redeveloped to accommodate new 220kV and 66kV GIS buildings, three B transformers bays and three 66kV capacitor bank bays. The 220kV building will include a new control room. Operating in a quiet residential neighbourhood, AusNet Services and their contractors are committed to minimising the impact of works on local residents. A proactive Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) detailing stringent controls around noise, traffic and waste must be adhered to at all times. The Merri Creek flowing just ten metres
from the site is also a key to environmental sensitivity. Thorough consultation with the community has determined the final aesthetic design for the station. As well as reducing the footprint of the BTS, selected equipment will be hidden inside architecturally-designed buildings. To further improve the station’s appearance and enhance the Merri Creek corridor, extensive landscaping to screen the station from neighbouring properties will be undertaken. Hand in hand with a bustling, busy worksite come hazards and safety implications. Zinfra is proud to have achieved more than 1,328 days LTI and MTI free on this project so far, attained through a strong adherence to their “Safety First” culture and the observance of rigorous safety protocols and procedures. Zinfra’s work on the project is expected to be completed in April 2017.
LIFETIME RELIABILITY, SMART ENGINEERING Our transformers are renowned for their reliability. They are designed and manufactured fit for purpose, with smart engineering to meet our customers’ needs. Our team of transformer people demonstrates a total commitment to quality by delivering solutions that go the distance. Our product range includes: Power Transformers (≤550MVA) Distribution Transformers (≤5,000kVA) Compact MV Substations Special Transformers Fault Current Limiters Special Applications Monitoring & Control Solutions
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THE RISKS OF IGNORING AGING INFRASTRUCTURE Aging energy generation and distribution infrastructure is rapidly becoming one of the biggest challenges facing utilities in developed countries. It has a huge impact on their ability to provide a reliable, cost-effective and future-proof provision for end users.
any countries are facing huge costs associated with disruptions and customer minutes lost (CML), as well as the level of investment needed to maintain and upgrade the network. In the US for example, where the power grid is thought to be worth an estimated $876 billion, modernising infrastructure would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. With nearly 75 per cent of transmission lines and transformers 25 years or older according to the US Department of Energy, outdated infrastructure is frequently cited by commentators as the biggest threat to US energy supply. If we look to Eastern European countries such as Romania, we see ministers citing the same issues – run-down infrastructure that simply cannot withstand the demands now placed on it. The same pattern emerges in Australia, where reliance on aged coal-fired power stations (29 per cent of which are over 40 years old) puts the country’s energy security at risk. As power generation technology continues to evolve, it is crucial that energy distribution and generating facilities remain fit for purpose, and planned upgrades provide a prime opportunity to achieve this. Now is the
time to future-proof networks, as more coal plants are decommissioned and both renewables and nuclear power continue to play a bigger role. We can also anticipate a growing need for new technologies and fuel choices to be seamlessly integrated into the grid in the future. In the last ten years, blackouts caused by failing power lines and utilities’ inability to meet rising demand has cost the economy billions. This risk to energy security will continue if longterm solutions are not considered, so investing time and money now is vital to avoid massive disruptions to end users. Consider this issue on a global scale, particularly in developing countries where energy infrastructure is already limited. The consequences can be catastrophic, particularly where there are dense populations putting extreme pressure on the grid. In 2012 for example, more than half its population was affected when India experienced one of the world’s worst power crises as a result of inadequate foundations. Upgrading both generation and transmission facilities with the evolving energy mix and technology in mind, and not forgetting end users is key to securing reliable, flexible and efficient power now and in the future. Achieving
this with minimal cost and downtime is vital but only possible if effective and efficient contingency plans are in place. The key objective is to create a balance between the investment required to maintain and upgrade infrastructure, with the cost of power loss to the economy and future economic growth. Aggreko offers a range of solutions for aging infrastructure and the utility industry: • Contingency planning service for utilities, especially for transformer failure • Scalable embedded generation to allow deferral of capital upgrades in an uncertain energy usage future • Capacitor banks to allow voltage support on skinny networks • Fast deployment of temporary generation, up to 200MW, in the case of generation failure • Mobile transformer fleet up to 132kV • Utility substation rentals and HV generation to maintain power during substation refurbs/rebuilds.
For more information about the solutions Aggreko offers, visit www.aggreko.com.au.
Your Partner for Power Operating from over 200 locations, with the most efficient Diesel, HFO and Gas generators on the market, Aggreko is the name to trust in the provision of temporary power solutions. We offer complete turn-key project management including equipment, installation, maintenance and operation by highly experienced engineers to ensure reliable and flexible power. Whether you need a few megawatts of power for a remote mine site or a few hundred megawatts of baseload power to support the national grid, Aggreko delivers the solution that is right for you, wherever and whenever you need it.
Head Offices Australia T: 1300 929 031
New Zealand / Pacific T: 0800 950 950
Aggreko operates from more than 200 locations throughout the world. For the location nearest you, please go to: www.aggreko.com/contact
Aggreko, Power Specialists in the Utilities Industry
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Personnel and asset protection with
FAST ARC QUENCHING Arc faults have been a hot topic in the electrical industry for more than a decade, with much of the discussion centred on aging oil-based medium-voltage switchgear and the increased risk that they pose.
hile the risk of an arc fault still exists in modern medium-voltage switchgear, both the likelihood and the damage it can cause are greatly reduced thanks to arc fault tested designs in compliance with IEC 62271.200 and other measures. However, the arc fault safety rating of type-tested stand-alone switchgear can be easily negated by incorrect installation that doesn’t properly consider arc ducting, venting and expansion volume requirements. “In practice, installation contractors or switchroom builders are not always fully aware of or understand these requirements, or in some cases it may be too technically difficult to achieve,” said NHP’s Medium Voltage Product Manager, Dmitry Lazarchuk. “In many cases the complete substation or kiosk solution needs to be arc fault tested to prove it still maintains arc safety ratings of the switchgear. Therefore, the ideal switchgear would have to fully contain the internal arc fault so that arc venting is no longer required,” said Mr Lazarchuk. A short-circuit or another
malfunction can create an internal arc and when this occurs in a medium voltage cubicle, it can severely damage the installation and possibly injure the operator. NHP Medium Voltage Switchgear cubicles are designed and type-tested to mitigate the consequences of internal arcs, and therefore protect both the operator and the installation. Through a strategic pressure release system, the internal arc is restricted to the compartment where it originated and it does not spread towards the operator or to other compartments. The cubicles are specifically designed to minimise the consequences of an internal arc and forming a key component of this is the option of a built-in arc quenching system, “Arc Killer”, which can extinguish an arc in less than 50ms. Exclusive to NHP switchgear, Arc Killer is a unique worldwide patented system developed in Europe for the DF2 series air-insulated modular type switchgear. It provides an efficient and also simple arc fault protection, not only for switchgear in substations, but also in the ring network without the need to send a remote trip signal to upstream CB, unlike typical systems based on arc flash relay. “Arc Killer from NHP protects medium-voltage switchgear from internal arc damage and allows fast restoration of switchgear, avoiding long downtime and huge financial loss. It also ensures the highest level of operator safety in the unlikely event of an internal arc fault, going beyond requirements of the Australian standards,” said Mr
Lazarchuk. Arc Killer takes arc quenching to a new level, providing improved security that protects valuable switchgear and eliminating blast damage to switchrooms caused by expanding gas high pressures and temperature generated by arc faults. Not only are the operator and the environment shielded from harm, but the super-swift arc extinguishing system allows cubicles to be back in operation very quickly in case of an internal fault. Moreover, Arc Killer’s fast operation allows full containment of the arc fault within switchgear enclosure without the need for external ducting or venting. Consequently the substation design is simplified and the arc fault safety rating of switchgear is always maintained irrespective of where and how it is installed. The Arc Killer technology and the benefits that it brings to a site highlights the advantage of partnering with a medium-voltage supplier such as NHP. In additional to the market leading range of switchgear complete with Arc Killer technology, the extended NHP medium-voltage range can be called upon to help users leverage information to improve their operations, network efficiency and ultimate reliability.
For the successful monitoring, evaluation and intelligent control of a distribution substation, as well as substation control systems architecture, NHP is your trusted partner.
Gain a competitive advantage with Intelligent Motor Control NHP offers increased efficiency and lower costs of ownership to transform data into actionable and real-time information. Employing standardised and secure networks, NHP provides a wide range of devices ensuring connectivity and equipment safety.
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Work smarter and increase asset utilisation with NHP - your first choice in industrial motor control products, systems and solutions. For your next project visit: nhp.com.au/more/control
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The information unlocked with Intelligent Motor Control can be a significant step towards maximising todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s technologies. The Connected Enterprise brings top floor and plant floor together to optimise productivity and competitiveness.
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WHAT’S IN AN
INSULECT LINK BOX? Crafting a better housing for underground cable earthing
cable earthing connection box (Link Box) is a critical part of high-voltage underground cable systems. The application has some unique challenges, both in terms of physical and electrical requirements. Firstly, a Link Box provides a sealed, weatherproof enclosure for bonding cable earths at what is the weakest point in the system – cable joints and terminations. Secondly, it provides an easy access point for maintenance purposes, to allow testing of shield breaks and cable connections. Link Boxes may be configured as single point bonding for the cable earths, or may be cross bonded to reduce or eliminate circulating currents. SVL (Sheath Voltage Limiters) are normally provided in Link Boxes to ensure that transient over voltages, due to lightning or switching surges, don’t cause any breakdown of the cable jacket or other parts of the cable system. A link box must allow for bonding of the cable earths, protect the cable system and facilitate safe access for
maintenance crews. The Insulect solution to this problem is to design, manufacture and individually test each Link Box right here in Australia to ensure the highest quality standards. We get to know each customer’s individual needs and develop a custom solution from one of our many base models. The result is a Link Box that is simple to install, safe to maintain, and most importantly, that performs reliably underground, year after year, in all conditions. Not only are Insulect Link Boxes made locally, but so are most of the components, including the sheath voltage limiters (SVLs), which are also produced in the Sydney plant. The results of this custom manufacturing approach speak for themselves – over two decades of successful operation in many countries with more than two dozen utility customers.
Xylem Analytics Australia Providing world renowned products and solutions for the process measurement of: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
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For more information, visit insulect.com/underground-cable
W E ’ V E G O T W H AT Y O U N E E D . W H E N E V E R Y O U N E E D I T.
At Ditch Witch®, we focus on one thing: underground construction. Our entire product line-up is designed to make you more efficient and profitable in the field. Plus, with locations throughout Australia and New Zealand, you’re never far from the gear you need, when you need it. One company. One account. One-way path to success. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.
Ditch Witch Australia // 02 4777 7115 Ditch Witch New Zealand // 0800 396 9583 ©2016 The Charles Machine Works, Inc.
Making the most out of
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE CAPACITY
SA WATER’S MANAGER OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT JOE LAZZARO AND TAYLORS WINES VINEYARD MANAGER, COLIN HINZE.
n July 1 2016, legislative changes came into effect which provide a formal process for businesses wanting to use a utility’s infrastructure to transport their private water. While this legislation has created a framework for third-party access to water infrastructure, SA Water has been offering this level of access to its infrastructure since 1998 and, as far as they know, they are the only utility that does. “We’re not aware of any other utilities in Australia who are offering this level of access to infrastructure in the water industry,” Mr Wilson said. “We have, for a number of years, offered third-party access water transportation agreements to enable
people who own water rights to cost-effectively transport their water to their destination. It generates an economic benefit out of the spare capacity that we have in our existing major infrastructure.” The agreements allow often remote businesses to use spare capacity in SA Water’s existing pipelines to transport their water, which is more cost-effective than if they had to build their own infrastructure. Mr Wilson said two of the biggest regions where this arrangement currently works is in the Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley. “These are major wine growing and producing regions and the quantity of naturally occurring groundwater resources in those areas is a real
limitation on those regions being able to grow their production, so they needed to bring in water from another resource,” Mr Wilson said. “They are located far enough away from the River Murray that building their own dedicated pipelines would be too expensive, so they have an agreement with us to bring their water rights out of the Murray and to their sites. It would be uneconomic for them to duplicate this infrastructure.” Including Barossa Infrastructure Limited and the Clare Valley Peak Water Transportation Scheme, SA Water has 90 customers for third-party access and transports 11GL of water per annum. The organisation is currently considering several new opportunities
For almost 20 years, SA Water has offered thirdparty access agreements, allowing businesses to use the spare capacity in their pipelines to transport privately-owned water. SA Water Senior Manager of Business Development, Mark Wilson, explains how this arrangement has increased revenue for the utility while decreasing prices for retail customers. SA WATER’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER LYNDA HAMDEN AND GENERAL MANAGER OF BAROSSA INFRASTRUCTURE LIMITED, PAUL SHANKS.
with industrial customers, as well as continuing working with businesses in primary production such as irrigation. Mr Wilson says these arrangements not only benefit the business that needs to transport their water, but is advantageous to both the utility and its retail customers. “As a utility, we benefit from this in that we are generating additional revenue from infrastructure that is not 100 per cent utilised. “We also share some of that revenue back with our retail customers, as it puts a downward pressure on pricing. The assets that are used in these agreements are regulated assets, which are paid for by our regulated customers, so the additional revenue
we get through these non-regulated arrangements contributes to the infrastructure. “Our existing customers benefit, we benefit as a business, and most importantly, the economy of the state as a whole benefits because it enables businesses, like in the Barossa, to operate and employ people in areas where it might otherwise not be as cost-effective for them to operate,” Mr Wilson said. Mr Wilson says that because capacity in these sorts of pipelines and major reservoir systems varies at different times of the year, a lot of the water that SA Water transports for these organisations is pumped during winter when there is less demand on
the network. “A number of the grape growers have their own on-farm storage that they fill up cheaply from us by transporting their water in winter, and that’s when we have the most free capacity in our network. That spare capacity varies at different times of year.” As of 1 July 2016, South Australia now has a formal process for businesses to acquire these third-party water transportation arrangements, with the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) overseeing the process. The regime is not intended to replace commercial negotiations, but is there if businesses wish to use it. It also provides the ESCOSA with the ability
INFRASTRUCTURE ACCESS SA WATER’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER LYNDA HAMDEN AND GENERAL MANAGER OF BAROSSA INFRASTRUCTURE LIMITED PAUL SHANKS.
to mediate should any disputes arise. These legislation changes don’t change anything for SA Water but they do provide a structured path for businesses to follow when applying for access to their water infrastructure. “They reflect a proper legislative structure so there’s certainty in the future on how applications for access can be made and how we go about assessing these applications. Not every part of our network actually has spare capacity, some parts are already fairly stretched, so the legislation provides that framework and process that people can follow in applying,” said Mr Wilson. “It’s really about getting the right economics going on and making sure we’re utilising the spare capacity and not unnecessarily requiring new infrastructure to be built.” Having a way to gain additional revenue for infrastructure you already own is a smart concept for Australian water utilities, but Mr Wilson says utilities must ensure there is no risk placed on existing retail customers. “We have to be mindful that the infrastructure we’re using for this has been paid for by our retail customers so these kind of opportunities have to benefit them.
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“We don’t want to enter into any arrangements where our retail customers are subsidising these other non-regulated activities. Ideally these arrangements will be reducing the prices for our retail customers so it’s very important we get that right,” Mr Wilson said. Mr Wilson said transporting private water through their network is a core activity which SA Water is actively looking to grow and one that other water utilities shouldn’t be afraid of. “We’ve been doing this for so long already so we’re comfortable with it. It’s actually not a scary thing for utilities to look at because when you structure these arrangements the right way, the utility can benefit from it, the existing retail customers can benefit from it and the entity seeking access benefits from it. “Ultimately, if there is spare capacity, it makes economic sense for all parties to make use of it. While some utilities might view third-party access as something they need to defend against, we see it as an opportunity to benefit us and our retail customers.”
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R E TA I L
customer delight: TRANSFORMING THE UTILITYCUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP Sydney Water, Australia’s largest water and wastewater service provider, is embarking on a major digital transformation of its billing and customer management systems.
ccording to Sydney Water Chief Information Officer (CIO), George Hunt, it’s a once in a generation investment in technology that will deliver a customer-centric, forward thinking, mobile and integrated business. Sydney Water’s existing billing platform was written on an IBM mainframe in the 1980s. Sydney Water Executive Paul Freeman, who is overseeing the rollout of the new digital platform, said, “The old system was bespoke and very best practice in its time. It has been quite robust, resilient and very reliable for Sydney Water, but it has reached the end of its life. We are undertaking an overhaul of the system so that we can focus on the future needs of our customers in the digital age. “We are changing the way our people, processes and technology work to deliver what our customers need, want and value. “This is a core part of our corporate strategy. We are realigning the whole organisation around customers, which means changing what our staff do and how we relate to customers. We want our people to be empowered to make decisions that are good for customers based on reliable data and analytics. Our digital platforms are fundamental to supporting this change.” A request for expressions of interest has created a shortlist of three
consortia to become Sydney Water’s new technology partner – the three consortia are led by Wipro, Capgemini and Accenture. “The selected partner organisation will work with our existing teams to help design, build and run our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship and Billing solutions,” said Mr Freeman. “The partner we are looking to choose must have the skills and capabilities to deliver the program on Sydney Water’s behalf. “They must also fit in with the culture of Sydney Water with an alignment of similar values to ensure the successful outcome of the program.”
The tender process will be completed at the end of the year with the business critical customer relationship and billing platform to go live at the end of 2018/early 2019. “The primary goal of the new digital platform is to get insights out of our customer data that we’ve never had before,” explained Mr Hunt. “IPART, the independent regulator, has supported our proposal to invest in the technology upgrade. “We are pleased that the regulator’s independent auditor has described this investment in technology as ‘prudent and efficient’.” Sydney Water is already engaged in technology which is making a difference.
SYDNEY WATER IS TRANSFORMING THE WAY IT INTERACTS WITH ITS CUSTOMERS.
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R E TA I L
SYDNEY WATER IS TRANSFORMING THE WAY IT INTERACTS WITH ITS CUSTOMERS.
Sydney Water launched Tap in™ late last year, a new 24/7 online service for customers seeking to apply for building plan approvals, sewer service diagrams, connection approvals and other ancillary services. Accessible via smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, Tap in saves developers, tradespeople and DIYers time and hassle by allowing online applications rather than needing to physically visit a Quick Check agent. Sydney Water has also introduced an eBilling program for its customers.
PARTNERING WITH SAP The new ERP and customer relationship and billing software is an SAP off-the-shelf program used worldwide. The SAP platform is a proven platform for water utilities around the world including Thames Water and Anglian Water in the UK, and American Water. Mr Freeman said, “SAP’s software was assessed to best meet Sydney Water’s needs and requires minimal customisation for billing and ERP.”
EXECUTIVE OVERSIGHT PwC has been established as an independent advisor to the board of
Sydney Water to monitor risk and provide an independent review, and SAP has been appointed as the quality assurance partner to assure effective solution design. Mr Freeman said, “These are large and complex programs and I have come into this role because the board of directors wanted an executive level manager to oversee the rollout of these programs. “This is a strong demonstration of the level of focus that the board and the executive expect to ensure success. These programs are critical to the success of Sydney Water’s strategy.”
GENERATING NEW INSIGHTS “Our new customer relationship and billing and ERP will give us a solid foundation from which we can do a greater level of data mining analytics and generate new insights to better understand what customers are asking us for, the way they are feeling and what they are expecting,” said Mr Freeman. “This will enable us to better tailor different products and services to improve service levels, agility and productivity, and to provide an overall better customer experience. George Hunt added, “The business
experience platform will give us a modern technology platform to enable our new ways of working. “Having a modern technology platform will make it easier to respond to future improvements or changes in the digital space as well as changes we might choose to make to our processes. “The new customer billing system will simplify back office bill processing and support our contact centre in serving customers. It will enable customers to make payments 24/7 and, in the future, increase the range of electronic and self-service opportunities available to customers. It will also deliver business efficiencies around the cost of reporting, debt recovery and savings from decommissioned systems. “In the future this will deliver quicker response times to market, more costeffective product and service innovation, and an extension of our interaction with customers. “Innovative technology will power Sydney Water’s future. We are on the cusp of a major and very amazing transformation journey. “When everything comes together we will be a truly hyper-connected utility,” said Mr Hunt.
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Utility Partner Solutions
WANT TO BILL ALL YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AT ONCE – EASILY?
ow more than ever, utilities want to simplify their billing, and bill all their products and services on the same bill – regardless of the source of the product or service. Now, that’s even easier to do. Standard utility services include line charges, consumption (at various pricing tiers), maintenance or other service charges. Recently, utilities have begun including other services to increase their market reach including communication, security and subscription services. Even if you have multiple core systems generating transactions for different services, that shouldn’t hold you back from presenting a bill with all services included – especially if you have packaging such as bundling and other discounts for multiple services. Offering multiple services significantly increases loyalty – which is crucial in this era of increased competition. Studies show, and indeed our customers have proven, that increasing the number of services customers purchase increases their “stickiness” or loyalty with each new service added. Many billing offerings struggle to manage this level of complexity – so it’s a great advantage to choose one that does this easily. Choose one with a history of sophisticated billing as well as flexible implementation, either as your platform of choice, or augmenting your existing core systems with the necessary flexibility and agility. You don’t want to have to change core systems unnecessarily
– it’s better to use a solution that integrates easily with your existing investments and leverages them with additional functionality. Of course, if you need a total solution replacement, that shouldn’t be a problem either. Increasingly, there are opportunities for new services like submetering, but most downstream organisations that want to take advantage of this have little experience in billing utility services. Further, they inevitably want to address additional services and bill those at the same time. Property management organisations for example, might want to bill rentals, maintenance, and all the utility services (electricity, water and gas). Rarely will they have either the experience or the tools to do this effectively. Utilities are in a prime position to assist with these requirements. They can offer a complete billing service that delivers all these features, including the management of on-billing at multiple tiers within the sub-metered development. It’s an attractive opportunity to offer this service quickly, with minimal set-up and implementation, and one that even with an attractive price, delivers you a growing profit stream. At Utility and IoT Billing Solutions – part of the Select Software Group – we deliver solutions that manage all these requirements – as a fully outsourced service, a managed in-house service, a service you run yourself and we support, or any preferred hybrid of these.
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R E TA I L
BIGGER ISN’T NECESSARILY BETTER WHEN IT COMES TO UTILITY RETAILERS, ACCORDING TO MATT RENNIE.
HOW THE CHASE FOR SCALE HAS DAMAGED
UTILITY-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS by Matt Rennie, EY Oceania Power & Utilities Leader
ne of the questions I am often asked is whether any of Australia’s energy retailers have hit scale. I wonder if a better question is, should this even be the aim? Achieving scale – the point at which the heavy costs of IT, product innovation investment,
brand investment and mass market infrastructure are justified across a large enough customer base – is a hot topic within the energy industry all over the world. Many believe that scale is reached when a retailer’s customer base hits three to four million customers. But in a country like Australia, where the three
dominant retailers each serve less than 4.5 million customers, it may be time to consider whether this is an unachievable benchmark. More pointedly, is it one even worth pursuing? In Australia, the regulatory benchmarks for retail costs range between $90-$120 per customer, suggesting scale costs per retailer
R E TA I L
While achieving scale has traditionally been the focus for utility retailers, in today’s changing markets, Matt Rennie asks the question: does scale have any relevance for utility retailers any more?
of around $200 million per annum based on an estimate of three million customers and 70 per cent of overall costs being fixed in terms of systems and human capital. Recovering these costs through revenue requires retailers to constantly evaluate their customer segments to see where most profits lie and adjust their retention and save campaigns accordingly. But even when these are done well, with retail margins of
between 3 and 5 per cent, retailers can expect a return per customer of between around $100 per annum for an average household customer for as long as they keep the customer, and up to $500 for a small customer in the commercial and industrial market. At this point, it is worth noting that Australians are quick to switch retailers, with between 15 and 20 per cent of customers nationally switching energy suppliers each year; and we
are leading the world in adopting distributed energy resources. Australia has the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world at 15 per cent, according to the Energy Supply Association of Australia. As battery storage technologies become more affordable, it is expected that this, combined with solar, will completely transform our electricity supply within ten years. Many of the companies positioning
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R E TA I L
RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON SCALE, UTILITY RETAILERS SHOULD FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP.
themselves to supply customers with these new energy technologies and services are not traditional utilities but retailing giants from outside the sector, such as Telstra, and newcomers with innovation and agility that far outpace most energy retailers.
EXPLORING ANOTHER RETAILING MODEL If retailers are to abandon the quest for scale, what are the alternatives? One option may be to truly change the retailing model, rather than just innovating within its existing parameters. Adequately defending against the prospect of new entrants from other markets, and moving the battlefield away from cost scale as the main determinant of success, requires retailers to shift vertically, not horizontally, into markets. They need to compete not with each other, but with the other players in the electricity supply chain. This means investing in assets, platforms and technologies. It calls upon retailers to move into the realms currently occupied by the network companies, the generators, the customer and perhaps even the system operator. They will drive and influence changes to industry legislation. Energy retailers can redefine their purpose, using their knowledge of electricity, and of the market, to differentiate themselves and become not the end of the supply chain, but a force within it.
COSTS OVER CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS The biggest downside of the quest for scale is its negative impact on the customer relationship. At a time when energy retailers face a tougher fight to keep customers, they are
least equipped to do so. The constant focus on reducing costs has also reduced the utility-customer relationship, which, in an environment of flattening energy demand, may be one of the biggest levers Australian utilities have to drive revenue. Twenty years of managing short-term margins has left forming strong, trust-based customer relationships way down most retailers’ agendas. Encouraging customers to “self-serve” has saved utilities money, but limited their opportunities to engage with them. This, in turn, has downgraded the customer-utility relationship to what the eminent psychiatrist Eric Berne would have described as “parent-child”. Berne’s “transactional analysis” asserts that in all human interactions, people adopt the role of parent, adult or child, depending on the situation. High-volume, lowcomplexity interactions – such as when you call your utility’s call centre – sees you as the client adopt a critical parent role, while the service provider become an obedient child. Compare that to going to see your surgeon before a complex procedure. Your respect for his or her expertise and the high stakes involved mean you will diligently follow instructions and won’t complain if you are kept in the waiting room a little longer than you’d like.
RESPECT IS SOMETIMES A FUNCTION OF COMPLEXITY I’m not suggesting that the provision of energy and related services will ever be seen as brain surgery, but utilities must start moving towards redefining the customer relationship to one more akin to adult-adult. This will be essential if their
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ABOUT US investment in new technology, such as smart metering, and the behind-the-meter services it enables, is to yield returns. Retailing these products and services requires significantly longer call centre touchpoints and the ability to solve problems for the customer rather than refer them to other parts of the supply chain. The complexity of these offerings means customers will come to rely on the advice of the utility and the nature of these discussions could help shift the relationship to one that is more like a partnership. This new dynamic may provide a faster springboard to a future electricity business model. Making such a fundamental change in the customer-utility dynamic will not be easy and could be a race against time. But questioning the narrow focus on scale and instead redefining the customer relationship to offer complex, more profitable products based on disruptive technology may be energy retailers’ best option to successfully compete in what promises to be the very different energy market of Australia’s future.
1300 JACK ED The views expressed in this article are the views of the authors, not Ernst & Young. This article provides general information, does not constitute advice and should not be relied on as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
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MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT
AROUND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Esso Australia has begun construction of a new $400 million pipeline near Sale, Victoria, that will ensure the continuing supply of natural gas to Victorian households and businesses. Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is being used at numerous sites along the pipeline route to protect the surrounding environment.
he replacement pipeline will be constructed adjacent to Esso’s existing crude oil and condensate and LPG pipelines. Construction work will mainly occur on private land and should not cause significant disruption to the community. The pipeline will allow the continued delivery of crude oil and condensate, and will also ensure that natural gas from Esso’s offshore Gippsland operations continues to flow to Australian households and businesses.
Esso Australia has contracted Nacap Australia to build the replacement pipeline. Nacap is expected to source the majority of the people, equipment and services required for construction from within Victoria and Australia, where possible. ExxonMobil Australia Chairman, Richard Owen, said, “This major infrastructure project, together with the construction of the $1 billion gas conditioning plant at Longford and the $4.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum
domestic gas project, is a testament to our continued commitment to safe, responsible operations in the Gippsland region.” Esso Australia is part of ExxonMobil Australia, and its Longford pipeline replacement project will create jobs in earthworks, trenching, welding and surveying. The project will also provide jobs to the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) sector, with a number of sections along the pipeline’s route to be installed
Operating for more than 45 years, the Longford gas plant has been supplying most of Victoria’s gas requirements since 1969 and currently supplies around 20 per cent of Australia’s crude oil requirements. The new pipeline is 350mm in diameter and replaces the existing 700mm pipeline which was constructed in 1969, following the existing pipeline route. The existing pipeline underwent a partial replacement in 1980 but is now approaching the end of its operational life. The new pipeline will allow for continued delivery of crude oil and condensate as well as natural gas, providing continuity of supply for Australian households and businesses. Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “This is a major project that will create around 500 jobs and benefit local suppliers
with the majority of materials to be sourced locally. “Replacing the old pipeline will help ensure the continuing supply of natural gas to Victorian households and businesses.” The project is part of a multi-billion dollar investment in oil and gas infrastructure in the Gippsland region by Esso Australia, which will deliver jobs and opportunities for local suppliers. The majority of the construction work on the replacement pipeline will take place on private land through six local council areas, including towns such as Rosedale, Traralgon, Yallourn, Moe, Trafalgar, Warragul, Koo Wee Rup and Pearcedale. Construction of the replacement pipeline is expected to be finished by early 2017.
utilising the trenchless method. In total, the project will involve 14 major HDD crossings and 45 mini HDD crossings. Construction by Nacap officially commenced in March and by May 2016, 110km of pipeline had been lowered in over 86 working days, three construction cycles and involving a workforce of 450. “We worked closely with our client during the project development phase to determine optimal construction processes and address all stakeholder concerns regarding the implementation of the project,” said Matthew O’Connell, President, Nacap Australia. “Combining this with peak prioritisation of projectwide safety and innovative construction techniques, we are well credentialed to deliver the project.”
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OF SOLAR FARMING IN
AUSTRALIA Solar farms are taking off in Australia, with several planned projects – including a 2GW facility – set to surpass the capacity of the largest current national solar plant.
tility-scale solar has taken off around the country in the last five years, with a number of significant projects planned and built over the time frame. Currently, the biggest solar farms in Australia are AGL’s 102 megawatt (MW) Nyngan facility and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures’ 56MW Moree Solar Farm, both in New South Wales. Coming a close third is Broken Hill (53MW) in regional New South Wales, also owned by AGL. The Nyngan Solar Plant generates around 233,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity every year, which is enough to supply electricity to approximately 33,000 New South Wales households. However, Queensland is looking to overshadow these developments with its proposed 2 gigawatt (GW) Bulli Creek Solar Farm, to be located 150km west of Toowoomba. It will be the largest solar farm in Australia and fourth largest in the world. Toowoomba Regional Council
approved the project in February 2015 for a total eight-year footprint of up to 2GW (2,000MW). The development can be staggered over more manageable stages, of between 100MW to 500MW of additional power per upgrade. Other large-scale solar projects are also in the pipeline. In Victoria, Energy Australia received approval for the Mallee Solar Park, a 250MW facility, in 2010. The project is currently being evaluated for feasibility. Back in Queensland, ESCO Pacific’s 135MW Ross River Solar Farm is being built over an area of 202ha on an old mango plantation near Townsville, notable for its 320 days of sunshine on average each year. This $250 million project will have 450,000 ground-mounted solar panels, meeting the yearly energy needs of around 50,000 average households. Construction will begin in early 2017 and is expected to last 12 months. ESCO Pacific has other solar projects under council application in Queensland, including the 125MW
Susan River project (Fraser Coast Regional Council), the 110MW Rollingstone project (Townsville City Council), and the 85MW Isis River project (Bundaberg Regional Council). Vermeer National Construction Equipment Sales Manager, Jeff Lawson ,said falling generation costs and new innovations were making solar farming much more viable in Australia. Mr Lawson said, “The next ten years will see more larger-scale solar projects, as Australia tries to reach renewable energy targets and transition to clean energy.” Mr Lawson said Vermeer’s groundmounting equipment for solar arrays would play an important part in future solar projects. “Vermeer is poised to be on the frontlines of the renewable revolution. The struggle for cleaner energy begins at the foundations and Vermeer’s pile driver is a dependable and extremely efficient machine that creates a solid base for solar farm projects.”
PLANNED AUSTRALIAN SOLAR FARM PROJECTS OVER 100MW CAPACITY PROJECT
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NETWORKS OPENED TO
Following a two-year review process, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled in favour of regulating access to wholesale superfast broadband services, and declared a five-year superfast broadband access service (SBAS) on all non-NBN pre-2011 superfast broadband networks.
he superfast broadband access service declaration allows retailers to access non-NBN network services with a downstream data rate normally more than 25Mbps. The definition covers Layer 2 fixed-line broadband services with a downstream data rate that is normally more than 25 megabits per second, and Fibre Access Broadband services. As a result, the SBAS will apply to services on networks including TPG’s fibre-to-the-basement/building (FTTB) networks, Telstra’s fibre-to-thepremises (FTTP) networks in South Brisbane and Velocity estates, and iiNet’s VDSL network in the ACT and HFC networks in regional Victoria.
WHY DECLARE AN ACCESS SERVICE? Prior to the ACCC declaration, wholesale superfast broadband services supplied as part of the National Broadband Network were regulated under its Special Access Undertaking and published Wholesale Broadband Agreement (which are then on sold by RSPs to end users). Meanwhile, non-nbn networks built or extended by more than one kilometre since 1 January 2011 were subject to the “level playing field” obligations of the Telecommunications Act 1997 and therefore required to operate on a wholesale-only basis (as nbn does) and provide access to superfast carriage services upon request (which are also on sold to end users by RSPs). However, non-nbn networks built before 1 January 2011 were not subject to wholesale access regulations and could be operated on a wholesale only, wholesale and retail, or retail only
basis. This included TPG’s FTTB rollout, as the existing network would be extended less than one kilometre. In 2014, the ACCC began a public inquiry into whether to declare an SBAS to cover such networks, in response to competition concerns raised by the panel conducting the Vertigan Review regarding the use of vectoring of VDSL services and its own finding that TPG’s fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) network rollout to large apartment buildings in metropolitan areas would not be in breach of the level playing field provisions of the Telecommunications Act. The Vertigan Committee recommended that vectored VDSL services should be declared by the ACCC and opened up as a wholesale product available to rival RSPs, to counter concerns about the potential creation of small technical non-nbn monopolies. The use of vectoring in vectored VDSL2 technology with FTTB or FTTN connections removes interference that would otherwise reduce the data speeds that could be provided on the copper lines (which make the final connection to each individual premise) within a single cable. However, vectoring is only effective if there is only one network provider operating all the copper lines within a cable. The Vertigan Committee was concerned that this could inhibit competition if providers were to install vectored VDSL2 equipment in multi-dwelling buildings without providing access to other retail services providers on competitive terms. nbn had also expressed concerns that the potential for vectoring in the TPG FTTB rollout, which aims to connect approximately 500,000
premises in large apartment buildings in major metropolitan areas to superfast broadband, would mean premises connected by TPG may only have the option of the one RSP. After a period of consultation, in which submissions were received from various industry players, the final decision to declare the SBAS was announced in late July 2016. The ACCC states that the SBAS is intended to counter the “natural monopoly characteristics” of superfast broadband networks and open up greater opportunity for competition between retailers, as well as promoting consistency of regulation across all networks supplying superfast broadband services. “What this access declaration does is provide retailers with the opportunity to enter superfast broadband markets, and in turn increase competition,” ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, said. “This decision will also help to simplify and clarify the existing regulations that apply to superfast broadband services, allowing all retail providers to compete on their relative merits, regardless of the technology used, when the network was constructed, or who operates it.”
IMPLICATIONS FOR SUPERFAST BROADBAND NETWORKS During the inquiry, the ACCC received eleven submissions on the draft decision to declare a SBAS. Organisations that made submissions included TPG, Telstra, Optus and nbn. The majority of these submissions focused on the potential impact of the declaration on competition. TPG’s submission was the sole submission arguing that the SBAS
investment in infrastructure-based competition due to the threat of regulatory burden. It also argued that a SBAS was unnecessary for retail competition. The submission states, “It is of some note that infrastructure-based competition flourished in the Australian market without regulatory intervention on parties that did not have substantial market power. Optus installed a HFC network. Hutchison installed a 3G network. Optus and Vodafone installed 2G and 3G networks. Neighbourhood Cable and TransAct installed HFC and fibre networks. PIPE Networks and Amcom installed fibre optic networks. There are many other examples. “It is interesting to observe that the spark for this SBAS inquiry has only arisen since TPG announced its intention to roll out a VDSL2 network to buildings in CBD areas under an expressly created exemption to rules that would otherwise have been considered anti-competitive (the so called anti-cherry picking rules). VDSL
and other high speed infrastructure competition existed for many years, including HFC cables (which have been capable of running up to 30Mbps for some years), other VDSL deployments such as that of TransAct and Telstra’s FTTP networks in South Brisbane. Prior to the NBN and TPG’s rollout, there had been, to TPG’s knowledge, no call for declaration of those networks, much less actual declaration.” “However, for reasons that are not clear to TPG (but which could include strong submissions from nbn, or perhaps the exercise of commercial power of parties negotiating contracts for the National Broadband Network), regulation on TPG and other legitimate infrastructure-based competitors has been written up as being critical for the LTIE. “TPG submits the countervailing view. If declaration of SBAS is made, it will create considerable uncertainty for the investors of capital looking at bringing new technologies to Australian consumers.”
should not be declared. TPG disagreed with the ACCC’s conclusions that: • The long-term interests of end users (LTIE) would be promoted by the declaration of SBAS • Competition in the downstream markets for retail superfast broadband services on reasonable terms required the declaration of SBAS • Promotion of the economically efficient use of telecommunications infrastructure required the declaration of SBAS • All superfast broadband services are likely to display natural monopoly characteristics • The technical and economic barriers to entry mean that it is unlikely to be economically efficient for multiple infrastructure providers to deploy superfast broadband networks in the same area. TPG considered the SBAS declaration to be not in the best interest of end users primarily due to discouraging
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TPG stated that while “vectoring may cause some interference impacts, VDSL (in particular TPG’s FTTB network) does not necessarily mean the end of the infrastructure-based competition in a building or area.” The rationale for this position was that other technologies such as HFC could still be used to connect the buildings with TPG’s FTTB to the NBN, and that advances in wireless technologies such as 4G and 5G mobile broadband would provide additional competition. TPG puts forth the view that mobile broadband should be considered as a possible substitute for fixed broadband services and that to continue to treat mobile broadband as merely a complement is to ignore the enormous developments in that market. This mirrors a view expressed by a number of industry commentators that, in the long-term, advancements in wireless broadband may prove the biggest competitive threat to the NBN. Overall, TPG suggested that instead of a SBAS, the ACCC should just extend the carrier licence conditions already enforced. On the other hand, nbn strongly supported
the ACCC declaring a SBAS, although it did not support some of the suggested exemptions in the draft decision relating to small network providers and networks servicing business customers. It also suggested that the service description should capture all download data transfer rates at Layer 2 of 12Mbps or more on non-nbn superfast broadband networks. Optus supported the SBAS, but recommended that the declaration make clear that the access obligations only apply in so far as non-nbn SBAS networks have not been overbuilt by a network provided by nbn. The company also suggested that the ACCC needed to be aware of the need to ensure integrated SBAS providers did not discriminate in favour of their own downstream retail products, and to avoid imposing unnecessary costs on nbn, which should be borne by SBAS providers. Telstra generally supported the SBAS, but suggested that the draft decision’s scope was too broad and that the SBAS should not apply to its FTTP networks in South Brisbane and Velocity estates. The rationale given was that the FAB service
is not a Layer 2 bitstream service and any requirement to provide a Layer 2 bitstream service over those networks would incur substantial and unnecessary costs and operational and technical complexity that would significantly outweigh any benefits.
WHERE TO NOW? The SBAS declaration of service has triggered an inquiry into the price and nonprice terms of access that should apply to the SBAS. The ACCC has set interim price and non-price terms and conditions to apply for the next 12 months while it completes this inquiry. The ACCC states that during the inquiry it will look closely at the likely compliance costs for smaller operators, being mindful of the price benefits competition can bring to consumers. It remains to be seen whether TPG might reduce the scope of its FTTB rollout as a result of potentially reduced incentive. Meanwhile, the potential of competition to fixed line services from mobile broadband technologies remains looming in the distance as a future possibility.
ELIMINATE TRIP AND FALL HAZARDS WITH TRENCH AND PIT COVERS
pen trenches, broken pits and displaced manhole covers are all potential dangerous trip and fall
hazards. For instance, in public places including on footpaths and nature strips, there are many utility pits and manholes that have been installed by telecoms, power, water and other utility companies. At times, due to ongoing civil works, repairs, upgrades or general works, pit covers need to be replaced. If left in state of disrepair or if the works are ongoing, these open pits/holes can be a serious hazard. In addition, pit covers which are located near or on footpaths, may develop exposed or raised edges, creating additional trip hazards.
Therefore, it is extremely important to cover trenches, damaged pits, raised pit covers and damaged manhole covers with a sturdy, durable and non-slip cover. The WB Safety trench cover has been designed to cover these dangerous trip and fall hazards and can be used as a trench cover, pit cover, footway board etc. The cover can be a temporary or semipermanent installation. The safety trench cover is available in 2 sizes: • 1200mm x 800mm – suitable for pits/trenches up to 700mm wide • 1600mm x 1200mm – suitable for pits/trenches up to 900mm wide These versatile safety covers are exceptionally rigid in construction, yet lightweight. The sturdy glass-reinforced
composite trench cover maintains performance in the most demanding situations. Designed primarily for use in street works or construction, the safety covers are made from a single piece of glassreinforced composite and can support a distributed weight of up to two tonnes. Therefore, potential trip and fall hazards on the street, footpath and construction site can all be reduced or eliminated with the WB safety trench cover. To find out more about the WB safety trench cover, please visit wbsafety.com.au/productcategory/trench-covers/.
REDUCE ROAD MAINTENANCE COSTS
Features & Benefits • Easy two man lift. • No need for heavy lifting equipment. • Modular road plate system. • Safer installation. • Each section weighs just 44kg (Inner part) and 23kg (End part). • Ideal for use in residential areas: the innovative flexible edge dampens any unwanted sounds. • Tested to a vehicle weight of 44 tonnes with a safety factor of 2:2:1. • Long lasting product, refurbishment service available. • Anti-slip surface for safe pedestrian access.
The alternative to steel road plates
ELIMINATE TRIP AND FALL HAZARDS
TRENCH COVERS Features & Benefits • Lighter than a steel cover and stronger than a wooden plate. • Anti-slip surface. • Can take the distributed weight of a vehicle of up to 2000 kg. • Moulded from a single piece of glass reinforced composite. • Slip resistant surface and chamfered edges to prevent tripping. • Underside has ribbed framework for added strength.
Also available: Pedestrian & Construction barriers and other civil safety products.
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DRIVING SAFETY FURTHER
DETECTING water leaks from space Across Victoria, water loss accounts for around 10 per cent of total water usage, so being able to detect and fix leaks, as well as maintain the integrity of pipes, is vital to the success of the sector. Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) is currently investigating technologies that can detect leaks across Australia, including the use of high-tech satellites to locate underground leaks from space.
ntelligent Water Networks (IWN) is a partnership between VicWater, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and 17 Victorian water corporations, and it is currently investigating new technologies and methods that can combat the increasing problem of water leaks. However, IWN isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just using your average asset inspection methods. Instead it is using technology such
as satellites to detect underground leaks from space, which is the same technology that NASA is using to look for water on other planets. IWN is also trialling the use of optic fibre cable sensors in live water mains, and is developing a tractor probe to assess sewer pipe integrity. Besides leak detection, IWNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs investigate digital metering solutions, asset and energy optimisation and management, and
use of big data systems.
GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM Dean Barnett, Program Manager, Pipe Rover and Leak Detection program at IWN, said the first trial of satellite leak detection technology was conducted in 2015 over an area of more than 3,000 square km by IWN members Western Water, City West Water, Yarra Valley Water and South East Water.
SATELLITE RADAR IMAGE WITH LEAKS
“Ground crews visited the potential leak sites identified by the satellite technology and 32 leaks were confirmed. The results were sufficiently promising to warrant continuing assessment of the technology,” Mr Barnett said. But how exactly can satellite imagery detect water leaks all the way from space? Mr Barnett says it comes down to electromagnetic radiation. “Spectrometers can measure the
reflection of electromagnetic radiation from different materials, each of which produces a unique or signature reflection spectrum. “Utilis – the supplier of the water leak data, based in Israel – uses radar from a satellite 650km above the Earth, to detect the spectral signature of potable water (as opposed to rainwater or swimming pool water). “Firstly, raw spectral satellite images of the area are taken. Then, Utilis filters the raw data to remove
the spectral signatures of manmade objects and vegetation, and uses advanced algorithmic analysis to detect the spectral signature of potable water in the ground.” NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor mission, which was launched in 1996, and its 2001 Mars Odyssey mission both used spectral imaging – the same technology used by IWN – from an orbiting spacecraft to find evidence of water on Mars. Back on earth, Mr Barnett said
LEAK DETECTION SATELLITE LEAK DETECTION TRIAL PARTNERS IN FRONT OF MAINTENANCE VEHICLE: MARTIN SHAW, DETECTION SERVICES; DEAN BARNETT, IWN AND WESTERN WATER; AND EDDY SEGAL, UTILIS. LEAKS DETECTED FROM SATELLITE.
once the water is detected on the satellite images, the location is overlaid with maps of pipe networks to determine the exact location. Given the initial success of the technology, it is also being considered for use in Class A recycled water and irrigation channels.
PIPE INTEGRITY IWN is also investigating the use of optic fibre cable sensors in live water mains, with field trials to begin in late 2016. “Optic fibre cable sensors have the potential to not only find leaks, but to identify illegal connections, preserve the security of key infrastructure and to monitor pressure and pipe strain or dam wall integrity and movement,” Mr Barnett said. “These benefits could be delivered without shutting off the water supply.” The IWN is also assessing a new technology in collaboration with LaTrobe University, which is a minitractor with a probe that is designed to enter live sewer mains and test for damage caused by corrosive
hydrogen sulfide gas. “The ease with which the tractor’s probe penetrates the concrete wall of the sewer main indicates the degree of corrosion in that section of pipe. “By precisely identifying which pipe sections require replacement, as well as the critical timeframe, infrastructure maintenance costs will be reduced. Trials of this technology are due to start in December 2016,” Mr Barnett said.
FUTURE-PROOFING THE WATER INDUSTRY IWN is a fairly unique initiative as it brings together 19 organisations across the state to work collaboratively on addressing the key challenges of the water sector, including leak detection. As well as VicWater and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the member companies include City West Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water, Yarra Valley Water, East Gippsland Water, Gippsland Water, South Gippsland Water, Westernport Water, Barwon Water, Central Highlands Water, GrampiansWimmera-Mallee Water, Wannon Water,
Western Water, Coliban Water, Goulburn Valley Water, Lower Murray Water and North East Water. The organisation is jointly funded by all member organisations and was developed following discussions between the companies’ managing directors, who wanted to create an opportunity for their staff to enhance their skills. “We aim to build the capabilities of all Victorian water businesses to meet the challenges of population growth, aging infrastructure, changing customer expectations and climate variability,” Mr Barnett said. “We will test and implement new technologies that improve delivery of water, wastewater and stormwater services, for the benefit of all stakeholders. “IWN is about collaboration. The Victorian Government aims to establish Victoria as a world leader in urban water delivery, which will only happen if we work collaboratively to address the issues we share as one water sector.”
Utility Partner Solutions
OF WATER LEAK DETECTION
While new technologies such as smart meters, telemetry systems and satellite imagery are becoming popular in the leak detection world, water technicians still need to locate leaks visually or by using acoustic and tracer gas leak devices.
ewerin is currently at the forefront of leak detection technology, with high performing acoustic and tracer gas, water leak detectors, from digital correlators to the venerable listening sticks. Sewerin’s engineering capabilities make its equipment very dependable and give operators confidence in the product’s reliability, longevity and performance, which are key factors to consider when purchasing leak detection equipment.
So what’s new from Sewerin? The Aquaphon A50 brings together key features of the popular Aquaphon A100 into a more compact and easy-to-use system, and features cordless headphones, which are designed in-house and remove all noise normally associated with other cordless headphones. The Aquaphon A50 has a high quality of sound that is generally only associated with corded headphones, but while corded headphones are restricting when locating in confined
Truth, Not Dare* *When audited by the AMAA Utility is committed to protecting advertisers by having its distribution independently verified by AMAA.
Engineering, Construction & Maintenance
areas, this new technology has the same sound quality as corded, without the inconvenience of cords. The new A50 receiver also has a phenomenal battery life, allowing for approximately a week of leak detection. The display is intuitive and has last memory readings and a new filter selection feature that allows you to easily cut out outside noise without being detrimental to the leak noise itself. The system is flexible and Access Detection offers different variations
of kits, including the backpack kit with universal style microphone – perfect for plumbers, and the TS10 kit with heavyduty contact microphone that comes in a vinyl case – perfect for councils and water authorities. All the A100 microphones are compatible with this new system so you could use a B04 ground microphone with the A50. Another popular unit, the Aquaphon A200, has been on the market for 12 months and has received positive feedback from industry. Customers using the A200 are often A100 owners who have found the new A200 to be a step above the A100 system in both microphone and receiver technology, and it performs extremely well, even on small leaks. The A200 has an easy-to-use colour touch screen display which is important for new operators as it has the flexibility to adjust filtering to hone in on the smaller and more difficult leaks. It also comes with a cordless microphone
range, in addition to the standard cordless headphones. Often there is concern that cordless technology will not provide the same sound quality as a cord connection, but Sewerin’s digital transmitters, receivers and microphone technology create a noise free link. For leak detection professionals, there’s nothing better than placing the microphone on the ground and being able to listen at a distance, without cords getting in the way or creating noise from movement. While the A200 has many advantages, the Aquaphon A100 still remains an industry favourite because it offers the best value in the entry-level domestic plumbers market or for councils wanting a high-performing system. The system is a bestseller as it looks and feels like a traditional system but has been upgraded internally with new DSP processors, further improving its ability to detect leaks.
Another reason why water authorities such as Sydney Water and Gold Coast Water are continuing to use this leak detection equipment is due to the importance that is placed on training. Access Detection has a dedicated training room in Sydney where staff teach customers their leak detection process and how to detect the subtle sounds that mean they are close to different leak types. Access Detection has previously provided on-site and in-field training to water authorities, but only trains customers who have purchased Sewerin equipment through the company or its specialised dealers. All the dealers at Access Detection come from professional leak detection backgrounds, so there’s no misleading sales talk – just the facts from people working in the industry that have experience using the equipment.
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CO RRO SI O N
MANAGEMENT IN A CHALLENGING ECONOMY The nature of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s working environment is changing as budgets become more constrained and the political landscape transforms around the world. Whatever the economy or politics of a country, corrosion will be an economic threat to industry and the wider community, as well as a physical threat to infrastructure and personal safety. While there are news reports of oil pipeline ruptures, sewer explosions or sinkholes appearing after a burst water main, the effects of corrosion usually take many years to appear. Effective management or prevention of this insidious threat is essential to minimise its impact.
PROTECTING THE METALWORK AROUND A WATER STORAGE FACILITY.
‘whole of life’ asset costs.” This holistic approach takes account of construction and projected maintenance costs of a project. If it is possible to incorporate materials and processes into a design that results in reapplying surface coatings every 15 years instead of ten, there are savings to be gained. Owners of high-value assets must understand the cost implications of ignoring the effects of corrosion. There are many advantages of planning for corrosion control and mitigation, two of which are that the life of an asset can be extended and maintenance time and costs reduced. According to Mr Ferguson, there is often inadequate time given over to the design phase. “Companies often rush this and find errors later that could have been avoided,” he said. “Durability is often viewed as an afterthought rather than a value add.” “We understand that money can be tight, but it is better to consider how to look after an asset when it is designed and built,” said Gianni Mattioli, Director of his family-owned surface coatings business that has been providing a complete coating service to a diverse client base across Australia for more than 40 years. The company’s focus on innovation, quality, workmanship and safety has seen Mattioli achieve an unsurpassed reputation in the industry as an innovator in protective coatings. Monitoring the impact of corrosion on any type of structure is a critical aspect of ensuring asset integrity. A key way of minimising corrosion is to employ appropriate protection technologies. “Proactively testing and inspecting gives a clearer understanding of where to spend limited resources on maintenance of assets,” said Rob Francis, of RA Francis Consulting Services. Francis has more than 40 years’ experience in metals, materials and corrosion, especially regarding protective coatings. “Asset owners often prefer to put off maintenance until it is too late,” said Mr Ferguson. “Everyone knows that it is cost-effective, but people rarely have the budget to implement an integrated design and servicing program.” However, practitioners have noticed a gradual trend toward asset owners recognising the benefits of maintenance planning. “Since starting in the industry in the 1990s, I have seen a shift in attitude by asset owners,” Mr Davey said. “More are appreciating the wisdom of doing it right the first time.”
CO RRO SI O N
report released this year by NACE International highlights the massive cost of corrosion to industry, but also indicates the savings that can be made through effective implementation and utilisation of available corrosion prevention technologies and processes. It has been estimated that, globally, more than seven per cent of GDP each year is spent on corrosion mitigation and repair. For Australia, in 2013, this equated to more than $20 billion. There are many unseen costs that result from unmanaged corrosion. The most common being the loss of production resulting from an unplanned shutdown. Less obvious costs are unbudgeted capital expenditure to replace machinery and equipment or the damage to a company’s reputation following a pipeline rupture or similar safety issue. In response to budget constraints and the rising cost implications of corrosion across all industries, asset owners and managers look to achieve a good return on their investment. “Asset owners expect a better ROI on the money they spend on maintenance,” said Dean Ferguson, Materials Engineer with Infracorr Consulting and Senior Vice President of the Victorian Branch of the Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA). Infracorr is a leading engineering consultancy specialising in rehabilitation and durability solutions for concrete and masonry infrastructure. The Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA) works with industry and academia to research all aspects of corrosion in order to provide an extensive knowledge base that supports best practice in corrosion management, thereby ensuring all impacts of corrosion are responsibly managed, the environment is protected, public safety enhanced and economies improved. “Budgets for asset maintenance are never large enough to cover requirements. Coatings are seen as passive, so structures are often left to fend for themselves until corrosion damage is severe,” said Aaron Davey, Director of Bastion in New Zealand. “When coupled with the wrong coating, subsequent costs can appear far sooner than otherwise expected.” Bastion has been providing innovative leadership to engineering, construction and maintenance projects throughout New Zealand for nearly ten years, primarily with public infrastructure organisations and manufacturing industries. “In the past, short-term, low cost solutions were what owners and operators were looking for,” said Sean Ryder, Senior Engineering Consultant with Phoenix Solutions in New Zealand. “Today we are able to discuss the benefits of looking at the
Mr Ryder supported this opinion, stating that he had
CO RRO SI O N TIME AND MONEY SAVINGS CAN BE ACHIEVED IF DECISIONS ABOUT MAINTENANCE ARE MADE DURING A STRUCTURE’S DESIGN AND BUILD PHASES.
“noticed quite a significant increase of the awareness of asset owners as to the benefits of designing for durability; they are more and more taking a long-term view of asset protection.” It is usually government bodies and larger companies that take a lead role when new business concepts are implemented, but it can still take some time for there to be a “ground swell” of acceptance. “Once larger government agencies start doing it, the uptake flows down through other bodies and commercial companies,” Mr Ryder added. Best practices for construction and servicing operations have been changed and adapted to reflect the latest health and safety legislation and regulations. These have also flowed through into the quality control of a project. Asset owners have been forced to consider how things will be maintained in order to keep workers safe while carrying out repairs or applying a protective coating. The changes in OHS legislation are also being incorporated into asset management plans. The safety aspect of designs is being viewed as part of the overall maintenance strategy. “If it is difficult to get up to an area of a structure to reapply a protective coating, it would have been better to design it with easier access,” said Mr Ryder. If, when it is built, there are few constraints on the access to a structure or the equipment to be maintained, it is possible to reduce the frequency of servicing. “We have been on some projects where a building may look nice and do its job, but there may be overhangs and lips,” said Mr Mattioli. “We as contractors have to access these to do our job but there has usually been little thought of how to get into these areas. It is even worse if the job is 20 storeys above ground.” As an illustration, working on the structural cross members of an offshore platform or transmission tower in a remote location requires a unique combination of skills, but also additional safety precautions. Technicians need to have both the appropriate corrosion qualifications and abseiling experience. In order to effectively and comprehensively explain the benefits of incorporating maintenance planning into the design
process, companies and practitioners in the industry must ensure they understand all the latest products, technologies, processes and legislation. “We devote lots of time to staff training and education,” said Mr Mattioli. “We feel it is important for all members of our team to continue to learn about the new materials, new techniques and new training methods.” Advances in technology and the spread of the internet means that the amount of information that is readily available to designers, builders and contractors is vast. Companies are finding their staff are willing to research best practices and how to use new materials. “There is a new generation coming through with a focus and interest in doing a job well using the best technology and materials,” said Mr Davey. “With the amount of data and the ease of access to it via online sources, it is easy to achieve excellence these days.” As the manufacturing industry restructures, some companies are taking advantage of workforce changes. “There are challenges to the economy and some sectors are hurting more than others,” Mr Mattioli stated. Some manufacturing workers have a certain mindset in terms of precision and understanding of the planning and steps that need to be taken to successfully apply a protective coating. “It has been surprising that we have had great success retraining auto mechanics as applicators,” he added. An added benefit of planning for sustainability and designing projects to require minimal maintenance is a reduced impact on the environment. “If you can maintain it effectively, you do not need to replace an asset as often, which therefore has an environmental benefit,” added Mr Ryder. One area where Phoenix Solutions is expanding its work is reusing materials on site, especially for remote communities and island nations in the Pacific region. One scheme the company is associated with involves taking polymer waste and incorporating it into a standard concrete matrix. The polymer provides additional durability for assets that require lower structure strength such as footpaths and buried septic tanks. “A major consideration is ensuring that a successful mixture is repeatable,” said Mr Ryder. “We have to be careful to ensure that there is consistency in the treatment of the polymer waste.” This recycling of waste polymer provides strength and durability to tourism infrastructure and reduces the cost of the works because the amount of steel rebar that has to be shipped to remote locations is reduced. There is an additional benefit in that it minimises the amount of waste material that is shipped from the location or burnt. “Explaining the financial drivers is usually simpler as the results are easily measured now,” Mr Ryder stated. “However, as time goes on, there will be more and more measurable results of the environmental benefits which will encourage clients to do more design for durability.”
The Australasian Corrosion Association Incorporated (ACA) is a not-for-profit industry association, established in 1955 to service the needs of Australian and New Zealand companies, organisations and individuals involved in the fight against corrosion. The vision of the ACA is to reduce the impact of corrosion. For further information, please visit the website www.corrosion.com.au.
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P OWE RL I N E S
FOR POWERLINE MAINTENANCE Fixing major faults on powerlines can be a costly and sometimes dangerous task, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s essential to find problems early on before they get worse. Thermal imaging equipment is one tool helping utilities to identify deteriorating connections on networks before they become full-blown failures.
AN AUSGRID WORKER USING A THERMAL IMAGING CAMERA TO SURVEY POWERLINES.
deteriorating. Identifying these points as early as possible makes them easier to fix and improves the efficiency of maintenance procedures. Ausgrid General Manager Network Services, David Pengilly, said thermal imaging equipment is the most efficient way to locate these hotspots on the network. “We use this technology to identify potential faults on joints between lengths of powerlines. These show up as hotspots in the images allowing our maintenance crews to head out and make repairs before problems occur,” Mr Pengilly said. Thermal imaging cameras provide a snapshot of the condition of powerline and electricity assets at a certain point in time. The technology is non-invasive and able to be operated at a safe distance away from live lines. Network hotspots are also not visible to the human eye so thermal images are able to locate potential problem areas that wouldn’t be found by regular patrols. While Ausgrid carries out thermal surveying throughout the year, the
hotspot patrol prior to bushfire season is an annual survey that specifically focuses on 132kV sub-transmission powerlines, as these high-voltage lines are the backbone of the region’s electricity supply. Ausgrid uses a helicopter to cover more than 100km of powerlines in Berowra and Mt. Kurin-gai, Somersby, Gosford, Ourimbah, Berkeley Vale, Tuggerah, Vales Point, Morisset, Eraring, Awaba, Rathmines and Killingworth. The survey takes three days to complete and the infrared cameras are also used to inspect substations. An Ausgrid spokesperson said these surveys and the use of thermal imaging equipment is an essential part of its powerline maintenance program. “Locating these hotspots is an essential maintenance task which allows our crews to assess the condition of the network and fix any potential problems before they occur. It means we know the network is safe and we can be efficient and targeted with our fieldwork.”
P OWE RL I N E S
n preparation for the upcoming summer, utilities are starting to survey their networks to make sure there are no hidden faults that could become dangerous during bushfire season. Ausgrid is one of the electricity companies currently identifying potential bushfire risks and undertaking maintenance on its network, which includes 132,000 volt powerlines running through New South Wales’s Central Coast, stretching from Killingworth in the lower Hunter Valley to Berowra in Sydney’s north. Besides regular inspection techniques including land-based patrols of poles and powerlines, general maintenance of equipment and the clearing of tree branches, Ausgrid is also using thermal imaging cameras to scan powerlines from helicopters and locate hotspots on the network. These hotspots are connection points between powerlines that are operating above their normal temperatures, which is an early sign that the connection is
• • • • • • •
Developing the next generation of
WATER INDUSTRY LEADERS
by Jesse Tyler, Utility
A lack of national water industry oversight is making it difficult for industry leaders to obtain information about the workforce and to address training and skills gaps, particularly at the operator level. We spoke to industry leaders about getting training in the water industry back on track.
CREATING A NATIONAL FRAMEWORK Former SA Water CEO John Ringham said that while those in professional areas – mostly university graduates – had access to training opportunities to improve their skills, operators and juniors were often not so lucky. “The professionals get opportunities to improve their skills, either in the
workplace, or through an organisation like the AWA, through seminars and conferences, or post-graduate courses. For the operators, it’s very much left up to the individual utility. “That’s probably the area of greatest oversight, because they’re the people in the frontline, and they’re the people who everybody is relying on to get it right.” Mr Ringham pointed to the lack of a national qualification for water treatment operators as an example of this shortfall. Most issues with water quality are caused by human error, and with a lack of formal competency requirements, Mr Ringham said it can be difficult to have assurance that operators are actually capable of performing the duties. Mr Ringham said the lack of national qualifications also made it difficult for people to move between utilities, as there was no recognised standard against which they could be judged. In 2012, the Water Industry Skills Taskforce (WIST) got some funding through the National Water Commission (NWC) to address this gap – to develop a national framework for training standards for drinking water treatment operators. The implementation of the framework was identified as the number one skills priority for the water industry at the Water Industry Skills Forum in 2012. However, when the Abbott Government closed the NWC in 2014 without creating an equivalent oversight body, saying its purpose had been fulfilled, WIST’s funding dried up and it was down to a group of volunteers. WIST is still working on a national framework, but it is their only active project. With the framework unfinished, there is still no minimum skills and training standards for drinking water treatment operators. WIST Chair, Dave Cameron, said the present funding environment was very challenging and people had no confidence to invest on their own. “The Federal Government’s overall approach to water management at the moment and the loss of profile and ultimate demise of the NWC has probably put us in the situation we are in now. “We’re running a little bit on love and
sticky tape at the moment.”
A NEW VET SYSTEM In 2016, the Federal Government changed the Vocational Education Training system, under which new Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) must submit a business case for proposed training packages in their sector to a government body that will evaluate the cases and provide funding to some according to national priorities. The Water IRC (WIRC), chaired by John Harris, is currently preparing a four-year plan to present to government. The WIRC plans to resolve some issues preventing workers from undertaking the management qualification Diploma of Water Industry Operations and is gathering information on water sector issues, particularly about technology, the aging workforce, climate change, infrastructure and big data. However, funding is not guaranteed. The available funding for training package development for all SSOs in Australia over four years is $35.8 million, and $13.3 million for additional training activities. Mr Harris said when considering government cutbacks on these types of projects, and the competition from 75 other IRCs, there was a real possibility the funding wouldn’t happen and the training package wouldn’t be implemented. Mr Harris said the industry really missed the NWC, as it had a direct link to the Federal Government and had been a real driver for funding. “We got $1.2 million dollars from the NWC to develop the first lot of learning resources, which was then sold off to Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), so it became a standard across Australia. That hasn’t been updated to match the new qualifications. “That was the advantage of the NWC – it was seen as a link to the COAG group; it was the be all and end all.” LOOKING FORWARD Despite funding restrictions, WIST is trying to survive to finish the operator framework and keep industry training on track. Mr Cameron said the lack of extensive
here were two industry audits of skills in the water industry in 2008, which predicted skill and personnel shortages by 2018. While the landscape has likely since changed, a lack of government funding has made widespread surveying of the water sector difficult and since 2008, no comparable audit has been completed. Compounding the problem, issues with ANZSCO coding in the 2011 census have made it difficult to determine the size of the water industry workforce. Efforts were made to resolve this for the 2016 census, though it remains to be seen if they were successful. Nevertheless, organisations like the Australian Water Association (AWA) and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) are doing what they can to address both the immediate and longterm training needs of the industry. A WSAA project underway is investigating changes affecting the water industry, such as aging staff, emerging values, new technology and changing customer expectations. The project aims to help predict future roles, skills and drivers in the workforce. Meanwhile, the AWA provides training delivered via webinars, seminars and events, which attempts to cover the wide range of roles amongst its members. AWA Professional Development and Training Manager, Nicola Helme, said the training aims to mix theory and real world practice and caters to a “broad church”, though the main group that submitted requests for training were water professionals. “As a consequence, things like leadership, management and broad brush professional skills with a water industry angle are proving very popular at the moment.”
water industry auditing needed to be addressed in order to plan for the future. “But if we let the skills taskforce lapse we’re not going to be in a very good position if an opportunity comes up.” Mr Harris said the 2016 census should give a better idea of the size of the workforce, as WSAA worked with the ANZSCO group to identify career paths in the water industry. “This last census was the first time that people have put down that they’re water networks operators.” WIST’s recommendations for implementing its framework include mandatory national adoption, an owning government department or agency, and a certifying body (Water Industry Operators Association of Australia) to maintain the framework. Mr Harris said the goal was for the framework to be a national standard,
though the industry was likely heading toward a self-funding training model under organisations like WSAA and AWA. However, Mr Ringham said that a recognised RTO would be needed to oversee the framework to ensure national recognition. If the water industry as a whole could come to an agreement on what was required, a national framework wouldn’t necessarily require legislation to deliver the training. However, to make the training a requirement – rather than just guidelines – would be more difficult. “It may well require legislation in order to pull every organisation into line,” Mr Ringham said. Mr Ringham said the NWC was effective because while it had a “few carrots”, it also had a “large stick”, and Australia might need a similar national body to oversee training across the water sector and to plan for the future.
“The main issue about not having a national body that is driving the policy and direction is that water, which is an essential for life and for economic growth, drops off the political agenda and therefore becomes less important, and less well-funded.” Mr Ringham said there should also be closer links between industry skill needs and setting the curriculum at universities and schools, as well as more investment in training the workforce through industry traineeships, cadetships, apprenticeships and sponsored graduates. “The industry needs to become more innovative and be prepared to assess and take some risk,” Mr Ringham said.
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MAKING DIGITAL UTILITIES SECURE UTILITIES As utilities increasingly digitise their networks, they have access to more customer and asset data than ever before. The critical question for utilities, more than ever, is how do they keep their digital assets secure?
he last decade has been a period of rapid change for the utilities industry. Metering technology is becoming mainstream, renewable energy is shaking up the energy sector, and customers are demanding more control and insight over their utility usage. Utilities now operate networks that are enlightened, giving them access to the kind of data that allows them to manage their networks with greater precision than ever before. But with the great privilege that comes with access to all of this information, there also comes great responsibility. As utilities increasingly digitise their assets, they’re increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack. Collecting billions of data points every year gives rise to many critical questions: • How can we protect our digital assets? • How do we keep our data safe? • Where is our data going? • How do we ensure our data stays in the right hands? • Whose data is it anyway?
How do we ensure that this data is only used to benefit utilities and their customers? • Where is the vulnerability in our networks? These are the questions utilities around the world are currently grappling with, and here in Australia, it’s no different. That’s why Utility is bringing together some of the country’s best data, security and analytics minds for Secure utilities: managing data in the digital age. At this one-day event, being held on Thursday 23 March at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne, you will: • Hear first hand case studies from industry academics,
experts and C-level employees about how they keep the data deluge secure Watch industry leaders debate the key issues surrounding utility security Develop strategies to ensure your utility is a leader in managing data to your best advantage Stay up to date with the latest technology available to your utility in your data security journey Network with clients, colleagues and customers.
SECURE UTILITIES: MANAGING DATA IN THE DIGITAL AGE Thursday 23 March, 2017 Rendezvous Hotel, Melbourne For more information, or to book your tickets, visit www.utilityevents.com.au.
Join us at one of our 2017 Water Industry Operations Conference and Exhibitions WIOA stages an annual conference in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, providing a forum for individuals involved in water operations to: • Listen and learn from the experience of others through the latest “operational” technical and research based information provided in platform and poster presentations. • View and discuss the latest advances in technical equipment, products and services with equipment manufacturers, suppliers and industry consultants • Update their knowledge and skills through interaction with fellow water industry employees.
March 29 & 30
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All water industry personnel involved in the operation and maintenance of urban, rural and industrial water related infrastructure for the management, conveyance, treatment, discharge and reuse of water and trade wastes should attend these conferences. Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA)
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The utility industry is regularly required to call on an enormous and varied range of specialists; from mapping, to drilling, to wastewater treatment, to asset management, to pipe relining, to pipeline integrity, to land access, to risk management, and the list goes on. To make the process a little easier, Utility is bringing together experts from various fields to answer your questions.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN ENSURING YOUR HDD INSTALLATION IS SUCCESSFUL? DON’T TAKE SHORT CUTS After spending 25 plus years working on major HDD projects around the world, there is one golden rule that comes up time after time, and that is: don’t take shortcuts, do the right thing first time, every time. If you speak to any experienced driller or superintendent who has worked on large-scale projects they will all tell you the same thing – shortcuts don’t pay. Quite often site crews start to feel pressure from above, both from the client and from their own head office, once they start to fall behind program and “start to lose money”. Typically there is a reason that the schedule is slipping, and generally it is not inefficiencies or inexperience. It is more likely that the initial program was unrealistic or didn’t correctly identify some of the challenges such as site constraints, geology or weather conditions. This is the time when crews will then be tempted to try and save time by initiating a shortcut that they know isn’t good practice, but they think they can get away with. In reality, they rarely do and this is when small problems start to compound. As most people have experienced with drilling, the stars very rarely align and you must make your own luck. Implementing best practice even when all those around you are screaming for more progress does this.
LEARN LESSONS In larger companies with multiple crews, each driller or superintendent will tend to have their own way of doing things; their own favourite tooling configurations, preferred mud formula and site layouts. Each supervisor will often be reluctant to heed the advice of other supervisors, until they too have learned the lesson firsthand. This type of process can be hazardous and costly for the company. Even though each crew will be having these types of discussions on site about what is working
for them in this particular condition and evaluating their performance, this valuable knowledge is rarely captured formally and is unlikely to be shared throughout the organisation. If they are not doing this already, contractors should start to hold quick informal sessions at the end of each project to start developing their own rule book of best practice, that they can then rollout and employ throughout the business unit. Only by continually evaluating performance can you start to achieve a professional outcome each and every time you go to site. This feedback loop should also include head office to help them plan, create more accurate scheduling and develop accurate pricing. MAKE QUALITY DECISIONS Quality decisions can only be made if the organisation encourages open dialogue throughout all levels of the organisation. If the boss is dictating the course of action without first hearing and evaluating what others have to say, it will rarely be a good-quality decision. Supervisors should use reasoning, including the evaluation of facts and figures, over intuition that relies purely on gut feeling. To make a good-quality decision you should: define the problem clearly, evaluate doable alternatives, collate meaningful reliable information, determine required outcomes and use logically correct reasoning to commit to a course of action.
ABOUT CHARLES STOCKTON UK-born Charles Stockton has been a part of the HDD sector in Australasia since 2003. He is the Managing Director of Stockton Drilling Services, a leading engineering consultancy specialising in HDD and other trenchless pipeline installation methods.
HOW CAN CONTRACTORS BALANCE HIGH AND LOW DEMAND PERIODS IN MICROTUNNELLING?
Microtunnelling, like many other industries, does not have stable demand. There are times of high demand and low demand, and it’s hard to predict how long they will last or when they will change. How contractors deal with these periods can be the difference between a business continuing or going under. During periods of high demand there is an excess of work and it’s not uncommon to see a lot of new contractors come up and old contractors come back. They enter the market, buy new machines and complete the jobs available. But at some point, this changes, and when a low demand period comes there’s not a lot of work available so inevitably some companies go broke. There are two major factors that need to be taken into consideration when making decisions to best balance demand periods and ensure long-term business prospects.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY? The capabilities of contractors would be increased if more continuity were present in the industry, as contractors would know how much work was always available, and investing in new machines and equipment would be viable. However, the industry is developer-driven and there is no continuity. During busy periods all your machines may be out in the field, and you may feel pressured to invest in a new machine as you don’t want to let clients down and/or miss out on money that could be made.
While the short-term payoff of additional machines may seem great, the reality is in the long-term, you may not have work for that machine – and if you’ve over-invested in equipment that isn’t able to do any jobs, and you may be at a loss.
VERSATILITY Ensuring your equipment is versatile is also an important part of dealing with the high and low periods. For example, if you buy a machine that can go from 350mm to 1500mm with simple modifications through a variety of ground conditions, it can be adapted with little to no cost. This means when it’s quiet in one area, you’re able to cover other areas which have more work available. However, contractors will often buy a machine specific for a job, which limits what they are able to achieve with it on other jobs, unless the same conditions are present or extensive modification is done. This costs money, and in low demand periods funds may not be available for additional machinery or modifications. When it comes to dealing with high and low periods in the microtunnelling industry it is important to look to the long-term, look for versatility, and carefully consider the cost and benefits of investing in any new equipment.
ABOUT STUART HARRISON Global microtunnelling pioneer Stuart Harrison is the Managing Director of Edge Underground, where he specialises in on-grade microtunnelling installations with millimetre accuracy. Stuart is also the inventor of the Vermeer AXIS Guided Boring system, and he is constantly working to improve the effectiveness of this and other trenchless systems used in the installation of gravity sewers. To discuss your next microtunnelling installation, contact Stuart on 1300 JACKED or at email@example.com.
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