ASTT Queensland Councillor Andy Krumins reports that trenchless has moved ahead as predicted in Queensland to become part of the way the state delivers capital projects in brown field projects, sensitive green field projects and infrastructure upgrades.
Queensland now has many pipelines constructed and under construction where no-dig concepts for road, rail and creek crossings, even in remote areas, have been specified and successfully and economically completed.
Large sewer upgrades within Brisbane in particular are all being delivered by no-dig methodology where pipelines in excess of 1 km length are being constructed from one pit only. In sewer augmentation works this can halve construction costs by eliminating expensive pits and maintenance holes bored to the sewer after pipeline construction. Mr Krumins says this is not new technology, as Queensland constructed sewers like this 30 years ago, but in recent times the technology did not have that driving distance capability in the state.Article continues below…
With all the churn in the water industry in Queensland, particularly in South East Queensland, water utilities are passing their operational capabilities to contractors who now are required to design, construct and operate during the construction and relining/fixing/clearing of sewer networks – above and beyond simply performing sewer relining as in the past. This is mainly due to the loss of operational experience within the utilities.
Consulting firms, many of whom are not ASTT members, often ask for advice on no-dig contractual requirements, and endeavour to write cast-iron tight specifications. Mr Krumins says he has tried to impress such firms the need to consult with the industry and ascertain industry’s capability with ball-park costings before they write specifications.
“Working together at this stage is the secret to sound project delivery, but unfortunately this has not always been practised with the new players. We are a big country with a small scattered population and not everything is available,” says Mr Krumins.
Mr Krumins stated that a highlight of the last year was the highly successful No-Dig Down Under 2011, held in Brisbane in November.
“The quality of papers was exceptional and it was pleasing to see that the whole of project life presentation was extremely well received,” Mr Krumins said.
He noted that three papers on the same project, dealing with cradle to commissioning aspects for one project, exposed the process of asset creation and construction technique selection with not only capital but also social and environmental costs being players.
Mr Krumins said “I think this aspect of our industry needs to be encouraged so that all stake holders are aware of processes that produce capital commitment to infrastructure.”
New Zealand ASTT Councillor Steve Apeldoorn reports the last twelve months have been very challenging for the country. However, in some cases, the challenges have delivered real opportunities for the future. Difficult economic conditions have continued to limit the amount of money available for capital expenditure by local authorities and private enterprise in New Zealand, with the amalgamation of the seven Auckland City Councils into a single unitary authority in 2010 continuing to have an impact on infrastructure works projects.
Auckland, the largest city and region in New Zealand, has significantly reduced the amount of projects being undertaken in an attempt to limit Council spending. The new authority and the new Council-owned enterprises that manage infrastructure are still establishing their policies and budgets. Of late, there has been some improvement, with indications that increased budgets for capital projects are on the horizon.
On the positive side, there have been opportunities within the utility and infrastructure industries that have provided a level of compensating revenue and some growth. These are:
- Ultra-fast Broadband Roll Out: contracts have been let for the first stages of the fibre roll out, with some substantial drilling projects underway regionally.
- Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: despite the terrible impact of the earthquakes on lives and properties in Canterbury, the recovery of the infrastructure has been the saviour of some organisations and provided the opportunity for investment in new equipment and resources for companies delivering the repair and replacement of underground utilities. Organisations from all over New Zealand are now involved in Canterbury, including many new players in the utility industry, particularly in pipeline inspection and condition assessment. The spend occurring in Canterbury has been some compensation for the lower spend elsewhere.
Horizontal directional drilling (HDD)
There have been limited opportunities for maxi-rigs over the last 12 months, but the projects that have been undertaken continue to push the boundaries and are setting new records in New Zealand. Some contractors have also begun purchasing rigs from China, taking advantage of the lower pricing. This end of the market has certainly become quite competitive. The small rigs are engaged in broadband projects and other utility projects such as the new wastewater scheme in Kumeu and Riverhead in Auckland, with an increase in the number of rigs in the market.
This has been a very competitive market. The number of companies undertaking full-length lining has at this stage not increased, however the amount of work available (as spending has decreased) has made it difficult. Of late, there has been some improvement with some rehabilitation projects being let outside of Auckland, and the Auckland market, which historically has been the most active, releasing some lining projects. Canterbury will soon require a significant resource; until now, their recovery has been in the design phase. However, large lining packages are now beginning to commence and this will see resources grow in this area. Just prior to Christmas, PipeWorks Rehabilitation Services completed NZ’s largest diameter cured-in-place pipe project, lining an 1,800 mm diameter pipe under the Christchurch City Council Wastewater Treatment Plant Clarifiers, including a 90 degree bend.
Several small companies have now started offering patchlining repairs to both private house holders and to local authorities. Some of these companies are now looking to also enter the full pipeline rehabilitation market.
Pipe inspection, cleaning and hydro-excavation
This segment has seen the most significant growth, principally due to the Canterbury earthquake recovery. There have been a number of CCTV cameras and cleaning units (combo and recycling rigs) purchased and a significant number of new people trained and employed as operators and assessors. Within the last twelve months, two contractors have purchased Panaramo Digital Camera Units – the first in the country.
The New Zealand Trenchless Technology Forums have been on-going with another three forums held in Auckland over 2011–2012, hosted by ProjectMax. Attendance and participation at these events has continued to be excellent with 80 delegates attending and presenting at these events with a good diversity of players from across the industry including utility engineers, contractors, material suppliers and consultants.
There are a number of trenchless events and initiatives planned for the coming twelve months, including:
Targeted Review of Qualifications
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is instigating a major review of qualifications, which will involve the review of the current Infrastructure Works qualifications (including HDD and other associated qualifications). This is the largest ever review undertaken of the country’s qualifications and there are opportunities to restructure the delivery of utility qualifications, including introducing a complete trenchless qualification stream e.g. New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Works, (Trenchless Technology), or similar. This would initially contain the existing HDD qualification but could be extended to include others, such as pipe bursting, as the business case can be justified. Civil Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation Infratrain has invited Mr Apeldoorn, representing the ASTT, to participate on a governance committee and sector qualification review group as part of their review.
Education will have a place in New Zealand Qualifications Authority framework in the future, and will also be represented at the review of the existing HDD qualification.
ASTT Technical Paper Stream: as with the WaterNZ conference in Christchurch in 2010, the ASTT will again have a technical paper stream at the 2012 conference in Rotorua in September 2012.
New Zealand Trenchless Technology Forums
Ongoing since November 2007, three further forums will again be hosted in July, November and March 2013.