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Massive rebound in civil construction confidence
New Zealand’s civil construction industry is riding a massive rebound in post-pandemic business confidence – but this may be undermined by skills shortages, which continue to be the industry’s number one challenge.
Findings from the 2021 Construction Industry Survey, a partnership between Teletrac Navman and Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ), validate growing sector confidence, with 50% of those polled optimistic the New Zealand construction industry is on the upward trajectory and over half predicting turnover and staff growth in the next 12 months.
A significant difference in this year’s survey results is a rise in the requirement for skilled staff to unprecedented levels, with growing workloads and closed borders. Industry is confident about future work but needs clarity from local and central government on when work will come to market. As New Zealand normalises post-pandemic, issues such as fluctuating costs, sustainability and environmental impact have returned to the spotlight, and will influence client procurement decisions that sets how the country’s infrastructure is built in years to come.
“It’s encouraging to see the groundswell of optimism in New Zealand’s civil construction industry, which indicates the country is back to business-as-usual post-COVID,” says Peter Silcock, CEO, Civil Contractors New Zealand. “The future of construction in New Zealand certainly lies in keeping the people within this sector confident, so civil contractors can continue to invest in the right people, capability, and equipment for the work ahead.”
The good news is infrastructure activity is forecast to increase to $10.1b in 2025. Already, transport, water and subdivision projects dominated new infrastructure activity in 2020, contributing 85% of projects and 88% of total value.
As New Zealand eases out of COVID-19 restrictions, the construction industry has a renewed focus on both the issues and challenges. This may impact the potential growth they expect from the pipeline of work they have before them and on benefits they may achieve using emerging technologies.
“The industry has said, loudly and clearly, that they want local and central government to provide a clearer pipeline for upcoming work,” says Jim French, construction industry specialist, Teletrac Navman. “However, the lack of clarity impacts their planning for manpower and resources in these uncertain times. COVID-19 still affects the industry, as border closures dampen hiring outside talent and delay the supply of building and construction materials. Renewed buoyancy on the other hand is putting the spotlight back into sustainability and environmental issues.”
The 2021 Construction Industry Survey is available for download at https://tinyurl.com/2021NZCIS.
2021 Construction industry survey (industry confidence):
• 50% polled are confident in the outlook for the construction industry
• 61% are confident in their businesses’ ability to withstand change and surmount challenges
• 52% are hopeful of new technology being able to improve business efficiency and overcome challenges
• Top three areas and events occurring in the next three years that could have high positive impact on surveyed businesses:
– Development of a clearer pipeline of central and local government work (20%)
– Large projects under the NZ Upgrade programme (12%)
– Regional projects under the Shovel Ready Projects programme (11%)
• 55% say their turnover will grow in the next 12 months (32% in 2020)
– 35% say their turnover will stay the same (30% in 2020)
– 10% say their turnover will shrink (47% in 2020)
• 66% predict that their requirement for staff will increase over next 12 months (32% in 2020)
– 29% predict it will stay the same (46% in 2020)
– 4% predict it will decrease (21% in 2020)
• 50% (double the percentage points from 2020) say a skill shortage and availability of workers is the main challenge facing the industry
• 87% would hire today if the right skills were available (69% in 2020)
ATNZ appoints new CEO to drive future vision
Apprentice Training New Zealand (ATNZ) has announced Rebecca Smith to the newly-created position of chief executive officer to lead the Group Training Organisation (GTO) organisation into its new exciting phase.
ATNZ Board chair John Blakey says Smith has a wealth of experience and expertise, vital to leading the GTO which from August 2 became a standalone entity, separate from Industry Training Organisation Competenz, with which it has partnered closely since 2010.
“Rebecca brings strong strategic leadership combined with an impressive career in marketing and business.”
ATNZ is the country’s largest employer of apprentices in mechanical engineering and related industries. As a GTO, ATNZ places their 360-plus apprentices into “host” companies where they work and learn their trade.
As well as the separation from Competenz, part of the government’s ongoing Reform of Vocational Education, Blakey says ATNZ has an exciting vision for the future. The GTO will expand to also become a vibrant and commercially independent Private Training Establishment within the next two years.
On the up… Aussies eye post-COVID infrastructure boom
With all three branches of government – federal, state and local – working hard to drive the economy, it looks like Australia’s 4.5% GMP is in the bag says Australian business Aussie Pumps. Projects such as Badgerys Creek are “proliferating and mining, exploration and construction is bringing new life into many regional centres”.
Even country sub-divisions are blossoming as the six year drought is becoming a memory. This is good news for concrete manufacturers, the mainstay of Australia’s construction industry. Prediction are, says Aussie Pumps, that this year we’ll pour up to 3.3 million cubic metres of concrete as new projects get underway.
BATCH PLANT RELIABILITY, CUT CONCRETE COSTS
One Australian Pump supplier, Australian Pump Industries, has become the prime specialist in supplying batch plants with reliable pumps for this tough and demanding application.
“We know the conditions that batch plant pumps have to endure,” says Aussie Pumps’ product manager, Mood Ellahi. “We’ve found that Aussie GMP heavy-duty cast-iron semi-trash pumps can outperform and outlast submersible pumps.”
Aussie GMP semi trash pumps are available in a wide range from 2-inch in both high and low pressure pumps, all the way through to big 6-inch long coupled motor pumps, capable of handling up to 4,500 litre per minute.
Australian Pump, known in the industry as Aussie Pumps, has worked closely with big and small concrete producers to help improve batch plant productivity. Large capacity semi trash and trash pumps are available from the company in both electric and diesel drive configurations.
Pumps with capacities of up to 6,000 lpm are part of the range. Although pumps are designed for semi trash applications, they are suitable for pumping abrasive liquids. The Aussie GMP product line offers simple self-priming cast iron construction and a choice between big open non-clog style cast iron impellers and 316 stainless steel equivalents.
A recent addition to the range were high head trash pumps that will lift water out of a sump through a vertical lift of six metres but, also have the capability of pumping up to a 70 metre head, making them ideal for batch water systems. The pumps are mounted above the sump where they can be easily serviced in the event of a failure.
Being trash pumps, they offer a front clean-out port mounted below the suction inlet. That means that the pumps can be cleaned out without having to uncouple pipework or remove the pump from the sump, as is required with submersibles.
“We’re finding more and more batch plants seeing the attraction of these big surface mounted cast iron pumps,” says Mood.
CONTINUOUS PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Although the pumps are manufactured in Northern Italy (in one of the most advanced pump-works in Europe) a lot of the design work is done in Australia. Aussie Pumps’ engineers worked with the concrete industry and associated quarrying operations to better understand the requirements of the market.
“We were surprised to find that many highly experienced engineers and plant managers didn’t clearly understand pump selection and application,” says Aussie Pumps’ chief engineer, John Hales. “For example, there was little understanding of the advantages of surface mounted self-priming trash pumps.”
An example of this is the principle of the self-priming pumps. Aussie’s GMP range are designed with an integrated water tank built into the pump like a pair of big shoulders. The pump also has a high-quality check valve, weighted so that it hangs shut in the event of the pump being filled with water prevents backflow.
To prime, all the operator needs to do is fill the pump bowl with water, through a top mounted priming plug, and then start the motor. As the power kicks in, the water is expelled through the discharge port of the pump, creating a vacuum inside the casing.
“The vacuum created acts like a straw, drawing the liquid up through the suction and into the pump bowl where it is in turn is expelled through the discharge by the heavy-duty cast-iron, or cast 316 stainless steel impeller. The beauty of the system is its simplicity. There is nothing to go wrong, no priming devices,” says Hales.
HIGH HEAD, TOO
Using one of these three phase motor driven two, three or 4-inch pumps, provides a degree of versatility and in the event of pump failure, no need to drag the pump out of the pit (as is needed with submersibles). The pumps feature stainless steel wear plate, mounted inside the pump body as well as a silicon carbide mechanical seal.
This combination of features and benefits, and particularly the high performance, makes them ideal for batching and a number of other applications in or around the plant.
Keep charging, stop changing… Crown delivers its new V-Force lithium-ion technology
Crown Equipment Corporation, one of the world’s largest material handling companies, has launched its own V-Force branded solutions for customers seeking to improve battery electric forklift performance by using lithium-ion technology.
Crown’s V-Force Energy Storage Systems (ESS) include lithium-ion batteries and chargers and are now available for Crown’s entire forklift truck portfolio.
For fleet managers, the ability to rely on one trusted supplier for both forklift trucks and battery technology is essential. To provide customers with a top-quality, single-source service dedicated to lithium-ion technology, Crown has now launched its own V-Force batteries and chargers. The whole system is backed by Crown’s comprehensive service and support network. Highly qualified service technicians visit customers’ premises to help ensure forklifts, chargers and batteries are in proper operating condition.
“V-Force lithium-ion batteries last up to three times longer than lead-acid batteries; they also offer faster charging, opportunity charging top-ups and longer run times,” says Henry Larsen, Motive Power product manager and technology solutions at Crown. “The batteries charge and discharge more efficiently and deliver sustained high performance throughout their charge. “Because you can recharge the batteries whenever you like, you can extend your forklift uptime over a 24-hour period. This means you can use them for one or more shifts without having to swap batteries.”
Lithium-ion systems offer considerable advantages over lead-acid batteries, especially in multi-shift operation. Routine battery maintenance is no longer necessary, and batteries no longer need to be changed or watered. Because lithium-ion batteries do not produce emissions while recharging, separate battery-charging rooms are no longer required. In short, the batteries’ increased efficiency and lower service costs over time result in significant advantages for customers.
V-FORCE MEETS NEW ZEALAND STANDARDS AS IEC 62619
Crown’s V-Force batteries are designed to meet international automotive standards and locally adopted industrial standards in terms of extreme safety and ease of use, thus offering more capabilities than many other lithium-ion batteries on the market.
Fitted with multiple redundant safety systems, each battery features a multi-level safety architecture incorporating, for example, a variety of fuses plus individual-cell temperature and voltage monitoring. Safety systems built into the battery help protect against overheating, short circuits, overcharging or deep discharging. Even better, various active protection functions prevent operator errors from damaging the battery.
THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOUR BATTERY-CHARGING NEEDS
Crown’s V-Force V-HFM3 Series high-frequency chargers deliver the power your lithium-ion energy storage system needs. The performance of the Crown chargers is excellent thanks to the fast-charging process. V-Force chargers use high-frequency technology to achieve charging rates of up to 1C. This means they can fully charge batteries with capacities of up to 400 Ah in less than 60 minutes by delivering a steady charging current of up to 400 A. These figures are among the best in the industry. The user-friendly chargers can handle battery voltages ranging from 24 to 96 volts for the V-HFM3.
To detect each battery’s voltage class automatically and charge the battery without requiring manual presets, the charger communicates directly with the battery management system via the CAN bus. During the charging process, a large, informative user interface displays an exceptionally clear overview of the battery’s charging and operating status.
Cat rental generator powers Mercer Sand quarry
Sometimes you need the power of the workshop with you, on site. So, when looking for a power solution for his small quarry operation producing quality sand for New Zealand infrastructure, Gary Tetzlaff, director of Mercer Sands, went on the recommendation of his electrician and hired a Cat generator.
“The generator is our only power source on site, so it needs to reliable” says Tetzlaff.
“The Cat generator does exactly what we need it to do – it starts in the morning and runs all day. It’s also great to have the option to rent before committing to a significant purchase.”
The generator comes from Terra Power Systems’ new rental power solution, featuring a fleet of 30 generators available for prime and standby applications on short or long-term hire and can range in size from 30 kVA – 500 kVA, which work for small, medium and large sites and loads.
General manager of Terra Power Systems, Greg McCarthy, says given the reliability and performance of Cat generators, it made sense to offer customers a rental option for power generation.
“There are lots of advantages to renting a generator. They can be used to cover unscheduled downtime, provide power on remote sites, new and expanded facilities or seasonal peak loads.
“Renting also gives customers like Gary the benefit of trying Cat power and technology before they commit to buying. It’s the perfect solution for small businesses,” says McCarthy.
The quality and reliability of Cat equipment is exactly why Braden Rassell from Hennessy Electrical Solutions recommended the rental solution for Mercer Sands.
“Cat is well-known for the quality of its equipment. I’ve used Cat generators before on other sites, they’re very reliable. Now having the option to rent a Cat generator means I’ll be recommending the service to more of my customers,” says Rassell.
“We originally started with a Cat DE165E0 165 kVA trailerised generator, but together with the Terra Power Systems’ electrical engineer we evaluated the site load after a couple of weeks and replaced it with a smaller DE110E2 110 kVA generator. That’s the beauty of renting.”
Every Terra Power Systems rental generator is fitted with Cat product link – a remote monitoring solution that enables efficient and effective fleet management. Terra Cat also provides condition monitoring support through a team of technical experts, along with a nationwide network of 16 branches, 208 heavy-duty service technicians of which 100 are heavy duty and electrical field service technicians. This means any maintenance or faults reported can be investigated and repaired effectively and efficiently, ensuring maximum uptime.
“Interested in renting a generator? Call your closest Terra Power Systems territory account manager to discuss the right option for your business. We have Conrad Owens in the North Island or David Harrison in the South Island.”
Pumping out new products
Changes are happening in the world of pumps… the move away from traditional air and hydraulics to electric and battery-operated equipment mean improved energy efficiency and increased productivity.
Answering the call to energy efficiency
“The new technology that’s exciting us at the moment and is still in its infancy, is the electric air-operated diaphragm pumps,” says Matt Gardner, director at Pump & Machinery.
“These are to replace the air-operated diaphragm pumps from the likes of welding.”
So why the move to electric?
“The problem with air is making the compressed air is quite inefficient,” says Gardner.
Instead, converting to electric has lots of energy savings – something that customers who are looking to be more sustainable are looking for in their purchases.
Having been in the welding and air-operated double diaphragm pump industry for over 60 years, Gardner says that Pumps & Machinery is the country’s ‘experts’ when it comes to these pumps – first introducing them when the company was called Levingston Bros.
“The electric air-operated diaphragm pumps are not a product that we stock yet because the right product hasn’t come out onto the market yet, but we think we’re fairly close to that.
“It’s going to be an interesting transition for us moving from air-operated to electric-operated double diaphragm pumps.”
Gardner says this new technology is something he will be expecting to see next year.
Making equipment easy to use on site
Hytools, supplier of specialised tooling to a wide variety of industries – including power generation, engineering, marine, gas and infrastructure – supplied Brian Perry Civil with electric torquing guns for use in the construction of the Waikato Water Treatment Plant.
Managing director of Hytools, Graeme Drummond, says the product is “fairly new to the market”. Being battery operated, as opposed to air, electricity or hydraulics, “the battery guns make them very portable and on sites that power or air are very hard to get hold of, it makes the operator’s job a lot easier to operate the gear”.
“With hydraulic equipment, you’ve got a hydraulic pump, hoses and the tool, and require generally two people to operate the unit. And it’s quite cumbersome to move it around a site that’s got equipment all over the place – with a battery torque gun it only requires one person,” says Drummond.
In certain applications, the tool can be a great benefit. With a torque from 175 up to 4,000nm, it is about four to six times quicker than a standard hydraulic torque wrench.
“What makes it even quicker, is because you’ve got a tool that’s not plugged in it makes it very easy to manoeuvre around pipework.”
Jack Darrin, Brian Perry Civil site engineer, says his team found the product “very efficient and easy to use in comparison to traditional hydraulic equipment”.
“They are compact and allowed us to easily torque large diameter bolts in tight places,” says Darrin.
“The absence of hydraulics was also very beneficial when working in contaminant sensitive areas such as the treated water tanks. Overall, we were very impressed and look forward to using this equipment on future projects.”
Drummond is happy that Hytools was able to provide the equipment to Brian Perry Civil for this project.
“This particular project was probably a two-year project they’ve done in a year. And the time is very critical because obviously Auckland has run out of water, the dams have dried up, so they were on time,” he says.
“Delivering the water on July 14 was bang on schedule. Equipment such as the battery torque gun enabled that project to be on time where they might have lost time on other structural parts of it.”
Engineering a food safety breakthrough for dairy and food processing industry
New Zealand’s dairy factories could be the big winners from a proposed new electromagnetic detection and imaging method aimed at boosting food safety systems.
The super-sensing method is being worked on by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Canterbury, Lincoln Agritech, University of Auckland and FoodSouth, along with international collaborators in Australia and the UK.
Research on a Joule heating techniques for logs, conducted at the University of Canterbury’s Electric Power Engineering Centre, is paving the way to improve imaging technology with wider applications beyond the timber industry. By passing electricity from one electrode through a piece of wood to a segmented electrode array, researchers have been able to produce images showing the internal structures of wood, and now this same technology is being investigated for the food industry.
“This is one half of the story on this new electromagnetic tomography method we now hope to develop for food safety and quality applications,” says University of Canterbury senior research engineer Dr Bill Heffernan.
The goal is to develop this innovative new method so it can reliably determine the electrical conductivity distribution of food mixtures – such as milk – moving through a processing line. Foreign objects such as pieces of metal or plastic could then be quickly identified by their different electrical conductivity characteristics. This method could also be used to scan and image milk or other foods for attributes such as lumpiness, consistency, and temperature, thereby providing reliable quality control assurance.
One of the big challenges for researchers will be to apply the method to fast flowing product mixtures, as opposed to a stationary item. A key research goal will be to produce a working prototype that could then be tested. Organisations aligned with this exciting project are New Zealand Food Safety, Synlait, TipTop, InFact Ltd, Westland Milk Products Ltd, Waiu Dairy, Miraka Ltd, Hellers Ltd, PDV Consultants and Fonterra.
“Super-sensing has obvious applications for foods such as milk or yoghurt but could also be applied to a product like sausage meat to check food safety and consistency during processing,” Heffernan says.
Current systems include metal detectors, magnets, filtering, temperature sensors and direct sampling, but a new method now under investigation could effectively replace and improve many existing safety and quality checks for foods such as milk, ice cream and sausage meat.
GM of Innovation at Miraka, Brendan Haigh, says the new technology has two potential applications in their processing plants.
“One of the key things is that this will allow us to look inside stainless steel which is pretty much the holy grail of understanding processes. When you walk into a dairy factory, all you can see is stainless steel everywhere and it is hard to understand what is going on inside.
“We produce about 15 million litres of UHT for export to China and we have a couple of areas in our business this technology will be useful for. One is around fouling (the undesirable deposit formed on the surface of the stainless-steel wall during the heating of milk in a heat exchanger) and so we think this technology will provide us with information about how fouling occurs.
This would also mean operators could have a better idea of when it is necessary to stop processing for cleaning.
A second application could be to collect information that would help determine what sort of milk created the most fouling.
“One of the big challenges for New Zealand UHT manufacturers is that sometimes some milk is better for making UHT than others, and part of that reason is that some milk causes fouling to happen more quickly than other milk. We would really like to understand that further.
“Miraka is quite keen to support those sorts of projects. We’re only a young company and we’ve only been around 11 years, but we have been involved in quite a few government funded projects because we need to be innovative. That’s another reason why we’ll continue to support these kinds of projects.”
Keeping the food and beverage industry rolling
Engineering in the food and beverage industry is the backbone to all efficient production processes, with manufacturers constantly searching for methods to streamline systems to ensure quality output while minimising cost and maximising profitability.
Making things easier for the food and beverage industry is certainly an important mission for ABB New Zealand.
“ABB operates in New Zealand and in over 100 countries with our own manufacturing, logistics and sales operations together with a wide network of local channel partners that can quickly respond to customer needs,” says Johan van der Westhuizen, ABB’s business development manager for the food and beverage sector.
“We also have seven global research and development centres, with more than 8,000 technologists and ABB also invests $1.5b annually in innovation.”
And with such demand for food and beverage, innovation is certainly needed in New Zealand food and beverage facilities to allow for more flexibility, while at the same time avoiding high energy costs and unplanned downtime.
“ABB is very technology driven, offering ways for customers to automate more to help increase productivity as well as safety,” says Westhuizen.
“In the ABB Motion business unit, we have an extensive range of general purpose and industrial drives, high efficiency IE5 SynRM motors, softstarters and a comprehensive automation offering that includes a wide range of scalable PLCs and a selection of HMIs, instrumentation and robotics.
“With functional safety options, from built-in safe torque off to safety PLCs, our customers can also readily implement safety requirements.”
The adoption of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 technologies is helping to prevent unexpected downtime while optimising the operation of food and beverage manufacturers’ assets.
In a food and beverage facility where every piece of equipment can play a critical role, it is essential to know if there are any issues early on to prevent unexpected machinery failure. The capabilities offered by ABB mean that these sorts of issues can be detected early.
“Using our expertise, we can have these facilities connected so the customer can see plant-wise how things are performing, if there are any issues they can make some informed decisions, it’s very automated. From digitalisation, we maximise our customers’ plant performance.”
Westhuizen says that ABB Motion discusses with its customers actionable insights to help optimise and monitor the condition of their plant equipment, how cloud-based technologies can be utilised to help understand and predict potential downtime and enable the schedule of maintenance.
“We try to understand the business objectives, their goals, their long-term and work with them on the journey.”
John Brooks is also helping food and beverage manufacturers succeed.
In particular, winemakers and manufacturers of other liquids such as milk, honey and beer can benefit from the company’s Fluid-Flo pump.
Available with centrifugal, flexible impellar and rotary lobe pump options to suit a variety of applications or pumping needs, managing director at John Brooks, Karl Brooks, says it is a product that saves time by automating pumping tasks within a processing plant.
“It’s a portable pump and it allows you to have different control and variable speed options so you can connect it to different vats and run through different modes.
Brooks says that many Fluid-Flo pumps have been sold to wineries and craft breweries to transport liquids from one tank to another.
“It is helping not only the liquid, but the process part of the liquid. For example, in winemaking it will still have skins in it for getting the colour into the liquid of different viscosities.”
First designed in 2001 at a winemaker’s request, the company says that at least one Fluid-Flo pump can be found at more than 50% of Kiwi wineries.
“But it’s not just limited to wine – it can do honey, beer, milk, olive oil, chemicals,” says Brooks.
“You can connect it up to a flow meter and pump precise volume amounts, you can have it connected to a flow sensor that when it reaches the top of the tank when it’s filling, for example, it will shut off automatically, or as it’s emptying it will shut off.”
The product is also exported to Australia’s wine industry; however, Brooks says recent wildfires and droughts have meant yields have been down. The ongoing pandemic has also had a negative impact.
“Obviously with COVID-19 and the ability to travel safely and effectively between the two countries has made it more difficult to visit and follow up.”
Exporting has also been a recent struggle for Global Stainless Industrial.
“It’s a challenge just to know how to market it, to get it overseas,” says Lincoln Raikes, manager at Global Stainless.
“We know from our happy New Zealand customers at how happy they are that we offer an alternative way of a tank, a spherical tank, but getting it overseas is the challenge.”
Despite the challenges though, there is no doubt that there is some great Kiwi ingenuity in this sector.
As ABB’s Westhuizen says, “in New Zealand our primary industry is food and beverage,” so it is important for all in the industry to work with customers to find the right solution as we move into the future of engineering in food and beverage.
CNC long folding Swiss technology for the construction industry
When Allan’s Sheetmetal in Otago wanted to increase its ability to produce sheet metal flashings, the company went to the market looking for the latest technologies that are available to help its productivity and give the ability to produce product with more flexibility, faster and more accurately.
A solution was found with the simultaneous bending of complex profiles with the Swiss manufactured Jorns JDB double bending machine. The JDB can produce bending profiles without turning them around or over, it has an array of possible profile variations. Several parallel, tapered or overlapped profiles can be bent simultaneously – an innovation that increases the speed of work.
The use of servo-technology, the automatic loading and unloading table as well as the individually driven clamping fingers allow maximum precision, flexibility and productivity. Thanks to two bending tools, material handling has also been drastically reduced. Intuitive graphic programming, high level of angular accuracy and the uniform folds are all an integral part of the JDB.
If you are interested in how Jorns can help your business, contact Scott Machinery, 0800 215 215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick-fire questions: A Q&A with Tom Ireland, project director Auckland City Rail Link, Aurecon
Tom has dedicated his career to directing major infrastructure projects through all phases, from initial feasibility through construction, and successful operation. His strong leadership as a project director has been showcased on both the City Rail Link and Western Ring Route – SH20 Waterview Connection, the two largest transport infrastructure projects to date in New Zealand. Tom was also project director for the Northern Corridor Improvements.
What are you most excited about seeing happening in your field in the future?
Tunnelling safety has improved significantly over the last 20 years with closed-face TBM tunnelling (providing continuous support to the ground) along with significant improvement in cost certainty for clients. Currently tunnel lining construction is largely the manual erection of concrete segments and further automation and new lining materials would allow a significant reduction in construction duration and associated cost. Further reductions in tunnel costs will see increased undergrounding of city infrastructure which will improve the environment and provide more surface space for housing and recreational spaces.
What is something significant you’ve learned on the job that you wish someone had told you at the start?
Tunnel machines are generally manufactured specifically for each project. While there is continuous research and development into TBM designs they are not manufactured with the same reliability as cars and other consumer goods. There is always something unexpected that has gone wrong on each project that has required modifications to the TBM design and manufacture. This is why it is essential to have strong supplier support during the excavation phase of the project.
What is one of your biggest professional achievements to date?
The successful completion of the Waterview Tunnel Project. I was involved from the beginning of the project putting the specification together and managing the procurement, followed by the construction phase monitoring and the final inspections at the end. This project is the biggest transport project completed to date in NZ, and utilised the eighth biggest TBM in the world at the time and the largest in the southern hemisphere. The collaboration required between all parties to successfully deliver the project was very satisfying. The project transformed Auckland by completing the missing link in the Auckland motorway network, and saving up to 25 minutes of travel time for 80,000 people per day.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
One of the exciting things about being a major project director is that I get to work on the most complex projects. This involves assembling large teams and providing the leadership to achieve great results for our clients. I have worked with a number of my team on the City Rail Link project for over eight years, with some staff starting the project as graduates and leaving as seasoned professionals. It is very satisfying seeing people you are working with developing on a project and succeeding in their careers. The legacy left by projects such as the Waterview Connection tunnels and City Rail Link and the way they transform our city is also fantastic to be part of.
Were there any hurdles in your career that you had to overcome? What were they and how did you do it?
One of the challenges with working in the tunnel industry is that it is a global industry with technological advances occurring around the world. It is very difficult to achieve the right experience by staying in the one location as relevant projects often occur sporadically. At one stage of my career my development had stalled so I transferred to London for three years which provided a real springboard for the next stage of my career. I have also worked on projects and in several locations around the world which is very important in getting the right experience. Moving around different countries can be difficult on families, but I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on many great projects.
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