Blogs

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Building information modelling, or BIM, has become increasingly popular in the Australian construction industry. Projects that have used BIM have seen substantial benefits including cost savings, time savings and improved asset management.   Here, Goran Gelic, Ren Neimann and Adam Wallwork from McCullough Robertson lawyers outline the latest BIM updates at both state and federal levels.    The BIM revolution – where is the Australian Government up to? BIM can be described as the digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. BIM is much more than 3D design. BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about ...
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It may seem contrary to conventional wisdom, but councils are being encouraged to introduce risk into their community playgrounds. Numerous studies have shown that engaging in play with an appropriate level of risk helps children become more active, develops their social and risk management skills and increases their resilience and self-confidence.  One of the latest studies in this body of work is from the University of Newcastle. Working with children between the ages of two and five in a year-long study, risks such as high climbing apparatus were introduced.   The researchers observed that children displayed an increased ability to judge risk, results ...
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When Alan Leeson sat down with his team to work out how they could put their tiny Shire of Moora on the map, he never dreamed the answer would be a video of the council laying bitumen. That's why the Shire’s CEO was “pretty staggered” when drone footage of a dirt road in the shire being bituminised went viral, attracting interest and admiration from around the world. At last count, the video has been viewed a staggering 16,800,914 times and shared almost 400,000 times. The video was uploaded to the council’s Facebook page in December, but Leeson tells intouch that it really started to gain momentum during the Christmas break. ...
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The premier conference for public works professionals across Australia and New Zealand is back again – and this time, we're heading west. IPWEA's 2017 International Public Works Conference will be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, from 20–23 August 2017. The theme of the conference is ‘Taking Flight for the Future – Head West for New Frontiers’. Registrations will open early 2017. For more information, visit the conference website. Submit an abstract Contributed papers are an integral part of the success of the conference, and are a chance to share your knowledge and experiences with your ...
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Poor leadership and a lack of quality staff in key roles are among the most significant barriers to good asset management in local government, according to a report. Author Brianna Aris surveyed 132 local government professionals on the state of their organisation’s asset management. Aris, who is Senior Civil Engineering Officer of Assets at the City of Albany, says her findings reveal that a poor asset management culture is systemic throughout many councils. “Asset management isn’t always embraced, and I think that we take a lot of steps forward and then collapse back again,” she explains. “My motivation behind this report was ...
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Building a billion-dollar airport runway on waterlogged-ground described as the “consistency of toothpaste” understandably calls for cutting-edge engineering solutions. As it turns out, it also requires extensive risk mitigation, one of the longest dredging pump-outs in the world and the longest linear length of wicks drains ever installed in Australia. The Brisbane Airport Corporation’s (BAC) $1.3 billion, 360 ha New Parallel Runway (NPR) project is an ambitious undertaking, which will see a new 3.3 km runway and 12 km of taxiway pavements join the Brisbane Airport’s existing main runway and smaller cross-runway. Completion is forecast for mid-2020. ...
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An experienced underground-utility locator has dished the dirt on common mistakes people make when excavating, and given some tips on how to dig down safely. Geelong Cable Locations Director Ben Minutoli has been protecting underground assets for 18 years, and is on the National Utility Locating Contractors Association committee. Minutoli says damage to underground assets is still far too common. With excavators financially liable for damage, mistakes can have a costly, and sometimes dangerous, outcome – just ask the EnergyAustralia contractor who caused extensive damage to Telstra assets in the middle of Sydney in 2009. Thousands of homes ...
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More than ever before, councils are being called on to do more with less and find ways to engage their communities in a discussion about acceptable service levels. Many local government areas are facing (sometimes rapidly) growing populations, requiring bigger and better public infrastructure. In addition, there is an ongoing need for asset maintenance and renewal of existing assets. The Australian Local Government Association’s 2015 State of the Assets Report , prepared by asset management consultants JRA, estimates that the gross replacement value of local government assets is $438 billion and that approximately 11%, or $47 billion, of these ...
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Building information modelling, or BIM, is increasingly being identified as an important emerging technology, with the potential to streamline processes throughout the constructed facility life-cycle and almost endless applications to assist with asset management. Globally, markets such as the UK, the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Scandinavia and Europe have well-entrenched, often Government-mandated BIM usage. However, uptake in Australia to date has largely been in ad-hoc, with a lack of coordinated national direction. Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre's BIM research The Sustainable Built Environment National Research ...
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In a recent IPWEA roundtable published in the July/August edition of inspire magazine, industry experts examined the difficulties the local government sector has attracting and retaining public works engineers.  Although it is a complicated problem that requires a multifaceted approach to solve, according to Gordon Brock, Director of the Local Government Engineers Association, part of the issue lies in the lack of a defined career path.  "People are looking for well-defined, well-remunerated career paths; not just jobs. They don’t just want to be an asset engineer, they want to see continual development. Will [Barton] is a rare breed these days; Directors ...
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Strong technical skills are no longer a guarantee of employment for Australian engineers, with many employers now demanding ‘soft’ skills. In its April-June 2017 quarterly report, recruitment agency Hays revealed the engineering employment trends that are emerging across Australia. Overall, the report found there are a wealth of opportunities for engineers in Australia, with a pipeline of infrastructure projects creating a massive demand for civil and transport engineers in particular. However, it also noted the growing emphasis being put on ‘soft’ or ‘enterprise’ skills such as communication, critical thinking and digital literacy. The report found that ...
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Around the world, there has been a shift toward an environmentally conscious approach to road construction – and one material is beginning to crop up as a favourite. As a globally ubiquitous material, waste plastic is readily available and cheap. It also poses a major threat to the environment and is clogging up landfill sites – so any process that can transform it into something useful is a win-win. Here are just some of the current projects utilising plastic waste: Recycled plastic in India Dr R Vasudevan In India, plastic is a big problem. The country’s Central Pollution Control Board says more than 15,000 tonnes of ...
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The hidden cost of concrete corrosion

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Although steel reinforced concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials around the world, it can suffer degradation over time due to the embedded steel corroding, causing the concrete to crack and “spall”. In extreme situations, the integrity of the structure may be lost, resulting in the need for partial or complete demolition. Corrosion affects all reinforced concrete buildings and structures to some extent, with an estimated annual cost of billions of dollars to national economies. In addition, loose damaged pieces of spalled concrete falling from buildings and structures is a real safety risk. However, if corrosion effects are ...
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By Chris Edwards, AUS-SPEC Engineer Many regional councils struggle with recruiting and retaining skilled public works engineers, and with an increasing number of local government engineers starting to retire the problem is only going to get worse.  Chris Edwards is a civil engineer with more than 40 years’ experience in local government. Now working with AUS-SPEC, the specification system for design, construction and maintenance of local government assets, Edwards says he is disappointed by the ‘spiralling situation’ of older local government engineers rapidly retiring or leaving the industry. Here, he outlines the reasons he believes regional councils ...
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We all know how important good asset management is, but achieving it is easier said than done. According to Allen Mapstone, experienced local government engineer and head trainer of IPWEA’s Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning , there are some common and easily corrected mistakes many organisations make when it comes to asset management and asset management plans. Importantly, Mapstone says many organisations focus on only the technical data, while forgetting to include information about service levels.  “When we raise the subject of asset management, many people have an interpretation of what they think it is or should be,” Mapstone ...
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A magnitude 7.5 earthquake that hit New Zealand near North Canterbury has left two dead and caused extensive damage to infrastructure, with first estimates putting the damage bill in the hundreds of millions. The earthquake hit Sunday night and triggered a tsunami warning, which sent thousands of people scrambling to higher ground. Hundreds of aftershocks have followed, with researchers predicting they could continue to pepper the area for months to come. The quake was felt as far afield as Auckland. It is the largest earthquake recorded in New Zealand since 2009. The worst affected areas are Kaikoura and Marlborough, with Wellington also suffering ...
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An effective asset management plan is essential for any organisation managing infrastructure assets. The IPWEA Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning draws on the internationally-recognised International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM) , to give participants a deeper practical understanding of asset management plans (AMPs). Participants will be given the tools to develop their own draft AMPs using a combination of live and interactive webinars, how-to-videos, discussion forums, assignments, and hands-on use of IPWEA NAMS.PLUS tools and templates. Anyone who has an interest in infrastructure asset management will ...
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New research has found less than half of recent engineering graduates are working in their chosen field, with their mobile skill-set seeing many graduates snapped up by industries like IT. The Deakin University research found that 46% of graduates aged 20-24, who had gained an engineering undergraduate degree, were working in a professional engineering role, while that number fell to 32% when including Australia’s engineering bachelor graduates across all age ranges. The research team analysed data from the 2011 Australian Census, in which more than 200,000 respondents reported a bachelor-level professional engineering qualification. The ...
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With a $3000 investment, a little bit of patience and a lot of ingenuity, the City of Launceston has revolutionised its approach to the spatial and investigations area. After reviewing the needs of its spatial and investigations unit and the customers they serve, the City purchased a DJI Phantom 4 Advanced drone with survey-grade GPS about a year ago. Cory Robson, the City’s Spatial and Investigations Manager, says the drone has now become the team’s go-to tool for GIS mapping, surveys, inspections of hard-to-reach assets and high-resolution images. “It’s amazing – the benefit compared to the cost is unreal,” Robson says. He says the drone almost paid ...
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The local government revenue model has been broken by a growing expenditure that far outstrips what citizens are willing to pay for services, according to the authors of a new report. Giving Governments the Reboot: Improving the Financial Sustainability of Local Governments found local government expenditure had increased 7.3% per annum for the past 20 years – a figure that may even be understated, given that many local governments were divested of their water and sewerage functions during this period. Although the report recognises that a comprehensive, robust analysis of Australian local government is yet to be undertaken, it cites 2006 ...
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