Year in Infrastructure conference highlights digital twin innovation

At the Year in Infrastructure conference, hosted by infrastructure software company Bentley Systems, audiences were told that adoption of digital tools for infrastructure delivery and operations will only accelerate after the experience of COVID-19.

With global investment in infrastructure as method of economic recovery coming together with the impetus for more sustainable methods of construction and mobility, efficiencies through using digital tools are becoming unavoidable.

Through the use of digital twins for modelling and simulations in the design and construction phase, or for monitoring asset and network performance in the operational stage, more environmentally friendly materials can be used, waste can be reduced, while costs can be reduced and timelines shortened.

In addition, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, projects will still need to continue even when workforces are dispersed, either working from home, or across countries without being able to easily meet in person.

These factors have meant that digital tools such as those supplied by Bentley Systems are invaluable for infrastructure builders, managers, and operators.

Another macro factor that is impacting on the adoption of digital tools in the infrastructure space is the possibilities of big data and IoT. With more data being collected than ever, modelling and simulation software will be needed to make sense of this data and allow it to be seen as a productive resource.

One example of the benefit of digital twins can be seen in the adoption of digital engineering tools in the design and construction of the world’s tallest rail pier girder bridge in northern India. Constructed by Indian Railways, the railway bridge is required to support high-speed and broad gauge trains for the next century in difficult terrain. Seismic events and strong winds were also a concern for the 141 metre tall bridge.

On of the Year in Infrastructure Awards finalists, Indian Railways is using Bentley tools including OpenRail, PLAXIS, and STAAD, and the project has been able to make savings of US$24.61 million ($34.58m). These efficiencies were found through the better selection of types of materials and construction methodologies.

Once the bridge is complete, embedded instruments and drone surveys will be used to monitor the health of the bridge remotely, with a digital twin used to simulate how the bridge is behaving and the effect of inputs. This will ensure the infrastructure manager will be able to make timely decisions to ensure the sustainability of the bridge.

Wellington

Masks allow for full capacity on New Zealand trains

Auckland and Wellington are removing caps on capacity levels designed to enable physical distancing on trains, buses, and ferries.

Wellington’s transport operator Metlink said that face coverings have been an effective way to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading and that capacity could return to normal.

“This change comes on the back of the hard work of Metlink staff and passengers who have shown fantastic support for face coverings, giving the Government confidence to relax physical distancing on public transport,” said Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher.

In Auckland, while physical distancing is still recommended, restrictions have also been lifted.

“The relaxation of physical distancing requirements on public transport is good news for Aucklanders and will allow more people to use our trains, buses and ferries to get around the city,” said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that physical distancing on public transport was no longer required, and the wearing of face masks made the lifting of capacity limits possible.

“Mask use will continue to be compulsory, and has been key in the recommendation by the Director General that this change is safe to occur.”

To assist in the event of an outbreak, in Auckland and Wellington passengers are still encouraged to scan QR codes, and maintain hygiene practices on public transport.

“It’s important that everyone continues to wear a face covering on public transport to limit spread of COVID-19. Please also keep track of your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app and continue good hygiene practices like handwashing and covering coughs or sneezes,” said Goff.

While COVID-19 alert levels are remaining where they are at the moment, level 2.5 in Auckland and level 2 in the rest of the country, they are expected to come down further next week.

Gallacher welcomed the efforts of staff and the community.

“Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and patience, as we work together to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Super possession to enable maintenance on regional NSW lines

Major rail works will be carried out during a possession of NSW regional lines from Saturday, September 5 to Monday, September 7.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will be conducting the works, which include rail maintenance and enhancement works from Albury to Moss Vale and Cootamundra to Parkes.

Known as the annual ‘super possession’, the rail lines in both regions will be shut down over the weekend for yearly maintenance work.

ARTC general manager of asset management – interstate Brian Green described the works that would take place.

“This year’s works include track re-railing, resurfacing and reconditioning, as well as level crossing upgrades, track ballasting, turnout maintenance and bridge maintenance,” he said.

Preparatory works have been underway since August 29 and demobilisation is expected to continue until September 11.

Green said that ARTC works to ensure that as much is done as possible during the shutdown period.

“ARTC makes the most of these short windows to carry out jobs in a planned approach that minimises the impact of major works on train operations and reduces the potential for unplanned downtime on these sections of the rail corridor.”

Passenger services are being replaced by coaches and those in the community are advised to be aware of extra vehicles.

“Our work teams will endeavour to minimise any noise and disruptions the works may cause,” said Green.

“We also ask people in communities close to the rail corridor to be cautious during the shutdown period and keep an eye out for increased vehicle movements in and out of work sites.”

Extra measures are also in place to limit the chance of any spread of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 requires ongoing vigilance in many aspects. The health and safety throughout the works is of critical importance so we have ongoing strict hygiene protocols in place to minimise potential risks to the community and the teams involved in the maintenance shutdown,” said Green.

“All of the combined frontline teams continue to practice social distancing and minimising interactions with the local community. For example, where we previously we would have door knocked to inform nearby neighbours of the upcoming works, we will do a letterbox drop of information flyers instead.”

supply chain

Supply chain vision in the Decade For Action

ASCI2021 promises to demonstrate how the Australian supply chain and others around the globe have weathered COVID-19 and provide insights to their future resilience.

If any images comes to define the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it may be the sight of normally well-stocked supermarket shelves emptied of consumer goods from pasta and flour, to toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

While panic buying was an irrational response to the nature of the COVID-19 threat – there was no chance of Australia running out of many of these items – what the rush on supermarkets and other stores did demonstrate was the finely calibrated nature of Australia’s supply chains. To meet the needs of consumers for fresh goods at any time of the year and to avoid overwhelming storage spaces, Australia’s supply chain managers have been working to ensure that products are ready just in time, and ready to be plucked from the shelves at a customer’s whim.

The massive increase in demand due to panic buying brought to light the fragility of this system. In addition, as international flights were grounded, Australia’s ability to export its world-renowned fresh produce was immediately curtailed.

What this did was bring the role of the supply chain manager, and the people who enable the links in the chain to connect, out of the back-office and into the public spotlight. Monique Fenech, head of sales and marketing at the Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI), has seen this firsthand.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really brought supply chain management to the forefront of people’s minds. We’re starting to talk about supply chain as an essential service, which has never been the case before.”

In a way by virtue of its success, the complexity of Australia’s supply chain has not often been on view to customers, however the critical role of the professionals in this field has never been more in demand as trade routes recalibrate and new markets are being identified.

“Supply chain management rolls off people’s tongues, they’re all talking about it from a consumer standpoint. But even more impact has been made within organisations because supply chain managers have been brought into the boardroom to fix this problem, look at these outages, look at these delays, look at these increased prices. Executive are asking, ‘We don’t have access to our air freight like we used to, what are we going to do?’ So that’s really changed the internal profile of supply chain management within the organisation,” said Fenech.

While the scale and magnitude of the current crisis may be beyond what was planned for at the beginning of 2020, Fenech counters that dealing with these kinds of issues, whether they be due to a pandemic or other cause, is actually the bread and butter of the profession.

“This situation is business as usual for our supply chain managers; they deal with risk on a day-to-day basis. A good example of that is where perhaps they might have a dual sourcing strategy in place already because for some, not all, supply chains that would be considered best practice, so they would already have set in place some business continuity strategies,” Fenech said.

The next step will be for companies to reset their risk management plans and contingency procedures to account for the ongoing restrictions and the likelihood of another pandemic happening again. This reality calls for supply chains to not simply return to a pre-COVID-19 status, but rather learn from the experience of the pandemic and bounce back more resilient than ever.

“As opposed to going back to the way things were, it’s about bringing all of the political, economic, geographic, and social impacts that affect our supply chains into the mix using really smart technologies such as artificial intelligence to give us a better idea of where our supply chains are vulnerable and how we can improve them in the new decade,” said Fenech.

This next decade will be the focus of the ASCI’s conference, ASCI2021, to be held on the 23rd and 24th of February at the William Inglis Hotel in Sydney. The conference’s theme is “Supply Chain Vision In The Decade For Action”, adapting the United Nation’s priority of the same name for the supply chain industry. Janet Salem, economic affairs officer, circular economy at the United Nations will deliver an international keynote highlighting the theme’s application for supply chain managers.

One area that Fenech sees as improving based on the experience during COVID-19 is the connection and collaboration between suppliers, something that the conference will highlight.

“Deepening the collaboration that we have with our suppliers is only going to make the supply chain more efficient and also more robust. Once that trust is there and the collaboration is there, the visibility inevitably becomes greater, and that is the end goal for a supply chain manager – to have complete visibility across the end-to-end supply chain and sometimes it takes something like a catastrophe to bring you closer to your supplier.”

DELIVERING BEST PRACTICE IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
For the past 60 years, ASCI has been working with the supply chain management industry to grow the career profile of supply chain management.

“Back in the early days, inventory management was a new career and we travelled to the US to find some global standards that we could use in Australia. We’re applying that same technique now to global end to end supply chain standards and in order to do that we’re looking at global compliance and global regulation and bringing that down to the level that we need to communicate to members,” said Fenech.

In Australia, ASCI provides best practice knowledge to build the standards of supply chain management.

“We call that our Professional Accreditation Scheme. Just like lawyers, engineers, and accountants, they have professional accreditation bodies that they belong to and they are registered within a professional accreditation scheme as well. That proves that they can practice within that field and they’ve proven their knowledge in that field,” said Fenech.

“We’ve never had anything like this in supply chain management in Australia so now is really good time to address it, considering the complexities of the end- to-end supply chain have been made so apparent through COVID-19.”

To assist its members in adapting to the disruptions of COVID-19, ASCI is conducting research and benchmarking global best practice so that Australian supply chains can come out of the pandemic more resilient that ever.

“Currently, ASCI is working with the University of Melbourne on a risk survey, to see how we’ve been redefining risk and that will be a really important part of our conference on day two where we will be presenting those findings for the first time and giving our supply chain managers who are delegates at that conference a first look in as to what they need to be doing to reset their business continuity plans.”

While discussions were held at the beginning of the pandemic to understand whether the conference’s theme should change to focus directly on the events of the past six months, the advisory board ultimately decided that the theme of “Supply Chain Vision In The Decade For Action” encompassed the ongoing challenges that supply chains would face into the future.

“If companies don’t change the way they do things and put their supply chains front and centre of their operational efficiency, then they’re just not going to survive in the new era,” said Fenech.

Over the two days of the conference, ASCI has assembled a panel of local and international supply chain leaders, who will share their insights from a range of sectors. These include the medical, industrial, defence, and fast-moving consumer goods sectors, as well as the transport and logistics sector.

On February 25, delegates will be able to tour the under-construction Western Sydney Airport site, the core of the future Aerotropolis and new logistics hub for Western Sydney. Attendees can participate in a panel discussion with local councils, moderated by Amanda Brisot, general manager Western Sydney Business Connection.

With multiple streams on each day, Fenech highlights that it is worth businesses bringing multiple attendees.

“Supply chain managers should think about bringing a few members of their team because there are certainly different experiences that each of their team members could have throughout the two-day conference. Team- members can come together afterwards to share key learnings across those functions.”

Streams on day one will cover procurement, operations management, and logistics management, while on day two streams encompass systems and technology, supply chain management, and the future supply chain management workforce.

“There are some great stories in there from Metcash, for example, about how COVID-19 brought about some great opportunity for them to work with Woolworths and Coles,” said Fenech.

ASCI2021 will also host the 28th ASCI awards’ dinner, and with so much upheaval during the past year, Fenech expects some engaging stories to come out of the awards. “It will be one of the best because we want to see where excellence exists, where excellence has been demonstrated through these really tough times, and often it’s during tough times that innovation really does
push through.”

For more information, to book tickets, and view the full program go to: http://www.asci-2021.com.au/.

Parkville

Breakthrough at Parkville Station for Melbourne Metro Tunnel

The first tunnel boring machine (TBM) has broken through into the future Parkville station as it excavates from Ardern Station to the State Library Station.

This is the first TBM to make it to Parkville after being launched in May, with the second TBM to make it to Parkville in the next weeks.

The TBM is now being moved through the station box. During this period the TBM will be cleaned and recommissioned before being launched towards the State Library Station.

All four TBMs are currently excavating future metro tunnels underneath Melbourne.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan thanked those working on the project for their efforts.

“It’s fantastic to see [TBM] Joan arrive at the future Parkville station. The Metro Tunnel is working through the pandemic supporting thousands of jobs, while creating the new space to run more trains more often.”

The stations themselves are also progressing, with work on the permanent structure for Parkville Station below Grattan Street taking place. Station entrances are also currently under construction.

The project is creating nearly 7,000 jobs and those currently on site are required to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures due to Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions.

“Construction of the Metro Tunnel is continuing under strict health requirements – keeping workers safe while they deliver this vital project,” said Allan.

With the 1.2-kilometre tunnels between Arden and the western tunnel entrance in Kensington completed last year and tunnelling underway from Anzac Station to the eastern tunnel entrance at South Yarra, more than 290,000 cubic metres of rock and soil have been excavated. 23,000 concrete segments have been installed to line the walls of the tunnels.

Once complete, estimated in 2025, the project increase Melbourne’s rail capacity by half a million passengers a week during the peaks.

face masks

Face masks to be mandatory on public transport across New Zealand

Auckland Transport has welcomed the New Zealand government’s mandating of face masks on public transport.

From Monday, August 31, face coverings will be required on all public transport for regions of New Zealand in alert level 2 or higher. Currently, all of New Zealand is at alert level 2 and the Auckland region is at alert level 3 until Sunday August 30, where it will return to alert level 2.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the measures would be effective in limiting the spread of the virus.

“Wearing a face covering is an effective measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Everything we can do in the fight against this disease makes a difference, and I believe the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport is sensible given our recent experience.”

Auckland Transport has put out alerts for travellers on certain buses as passengers travelled while having COVID-19.

Auckland Transport has also taken other measures to ensure that public transport is still safe for travellers, including through cleaning, not taking cash, and keeping a two metre distance between travellers. Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison said that AT HOP cards have also been used to track and contact close contacts of those who travelled with COVID-19.

“We have already stepped up the level of cleaning on all services with regular steam cleans now in place and now the Government’s decision to make face masks mandatory will only make public transport safer,” he said.

“Our customer research from the first weekend back in Alert Level 3 shows 88 per cent of people would support compulsory face masks on public transport.”

Goff said the wearing of face masks would benefit the community.

“We all have a responsibility to follow government health directives — for the good of ourselves, our families and older folk and our wider communities,” he said.

Wellington

Certainty needed on transport funding: LGNZ

Local governments in New Zealand have called for more protection and certainty for public transport funding in the New Zealand government’s post COVID-19 recovery planning.

The push was led by the Greater Wellington Regional Council, which runs train services through operator Metlink.

Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee Roger Blakeley said the council’s motion, known as a remit, adopted by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) on August 21, is highlighting ongoing uncertainty as to how commuters will return to public transport.

“In New Zealand, Wellington in particular, recovery of patronage on public transport has been relatively fast compared to overseas but that’s still only a partial recovery. Our experience over the last few weeks, where the threat of COVID-19 has re-emerged, has highlighted the need for ongoing vigilance and that full recovery will take time,” said Blakeley.

During the pandemic, the New Zealand government has addressed the shortfall in farebox revenue by providing public transport funding through Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. This extra transport funding also covered additional costs such as cleaning, stickers, and advertising that directed commuters how to travel safely during COVID-19.

With New Zealand experiencing a mild second wave of the virus, particularly near Auckland, leading to newly imposed restrictions, councils are concerned about what future arrangements will need to be put in place, said Blakeley.

“While the government, through Waka Kotahi, had signalled a degree of financial certainty for the current financial year, the last week has started to raise questions on the sustainability of this funding. This remit calls for the government to continue to work in partnership with councils to ensure the ongoing viability of public transport in the regions, cities, towns and communities across New Zealand,” said Blakeley.

“Put bluntly, if patronage levels fail to rise to pre-Covid-19 levels the financial viability of providing public transport networks will come into question. We’re calling on the government to continue to support councils to deliver the benefits of public transport to our communities and those that rely on it the most.”

The remit now calls on the president of LGNZ to work with the Minister of Transport and Local Government to develop a work programme between government and councils to maintain the financial viability of public transport.

In New Zealand, public transport is largely the remit of local governments. Auckland runs train services through council-controlled organisation Auckland Transport and Wellington provides public transport through Metlink. Both Metlink and Auckland Transport subcontract the operation of services to Transdev.

During the pandemic when the country was under alert level 4, services in Wellington were free. Auckland discontinued cash fares however continued to charge passengers through the AT Hop payment card.

Grain

Heavy use of Rainbow-Dimboola line makes the case for investment

After data showed that the Rainbow-Dimboola line had carried 33 return freight services and 66,000 tonnes of grain since it was reopened in April, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is calling on governments to upgrade regional freight lines.

VFF grains group president Ashley Fraser said that the grains industry in the Wimmera and Mallee regions had a high demand for rail freight.

“We know the demand is there, industry knows the demand is there and here is the government’s data demonstrating the demand is there. All that is required is a willingness to get on with the job,” said Fraser.

Freight demand in Victoria is expected to triple by 2051 and rail is seen as vital to take a greater share of this demand.

“The government should heed their own message in this case – improvements to Victoria’s regional rail freight network will take trucks off roads resulting in lower freight costs and better road maintenance and safety outcomes,” said Fraser.

So far, major upgrades to the network of freight lines which connect Victoria’s agricultural regions to its ports have stalled since the halting of the Murray Basin Rail Project. A bumper grain crop in 2020 and calls for infrastructure funding to boost COVID-19 affected economies are driving demands for the project to be restarted.

Funding for regional rail improvements was part of the Victorian government’s COVID-19 stimulus package, however focused on resleepering existing lines, rather than opening new lines or gauge conversions.

Fraser said that now was the time for the Victorian government to act and these projects would have the support of farmers.

“If the Victorian government build it, absolutely, the trains will come.”

New Cheltenham station opens on schedule

A new station for the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham has opened on schedule on Sunday, August 16, despite restrictions on construction activity during Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown restrictions.

The new station on the Frankston line is one of two that were replaced during a winter works blitz, with the neighbouring Mentone station opened early in late July. Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that work has continued within the new requirements.

“Despite the challenging conditions the pandemic has created, we’re continuing work on our critical infrastructure projects with strict safety measures to create safer connections for our communities and support local jobs.”

Along with the new stations, level crossing has been removed to improve community connectivity and safety along the rail line, taking the total number of level crossings removed to 38 out of the 75 goal by 2025.

Both Cheltenham and Mentone stations are five-star Green Star rated for their environmentally sensitive construction. This has included solar panels, water saving and rainwater collection, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The new station also includes a forecourt and community open space. A new passenger car park is expected to be completed by mid 2021. Landscaping works and active transit links are continuing and will finish by late 2020.

The Frankston line has seen significant renewal, with eight stations rebuilt out of a total of 12, and a total of 18 level crossings removed.

When stage 4 restrictions were put in place across Melbourne, construction on major rail infrastructure projects, including the Level Crossing Removal Project, was cut to 25 per cent of normal staffing levels. The Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) has implemented strict safety and hygiene measures including the wearing of masks and physical distancing requirements across all MTIA sites which include level crossing removals as well as project such as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.

NZ rail continues during lockdown

Rail services have continued in New Zealand despite the reimposition of lockdown measures to control the spread of new cases of COVID-19.

Auckland is now in level 3 restrictions while the rest of the country is under level 2 restrictions after cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Tuesday, August 11 with no known source of transmission.

In Auckland, rail services are continuing during the lockdown to their existing timetable for those who need to access local services and businesses and travel to work and school when that cannot be done at home. Physical distancing of two metres must be maintained on public transport.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff advised commuters to follow health guidelines.

“Maintain physical distancing, wear a mask when in public and follow good hygiene practices and we will get through this together.”

Auckland Transport will be cleaning trains regularly and will be making changes to timetables as needed.

KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller shared Goff’s advice to wear face masks when using public transport.

“The health and safety of our staff, and the public, is the company’s main priority as we maintain essential services, just as we did successfully earlier this year.”

KiwiRail has suspended the TranzAlpine service that was to run over the weekend of August 15-16. The Capital Connection service between Wellington and Palmerston North will run as normal.

Freight services will continue with appropriate precautions instituted.

In Wellington, which is under level 2 restrictions, public transport is also continuing as normal.

General manager of Wellington transport operator Metlink Scott Gallacher emphasised the need for passengers to take care when travelling.

“We’re asking passengers to keep a 1-metre distance on board trains, buses and ferries and keep a 2-metres distance while waiting at bus stops, train stations and ferry wharfs,” he said.

“The government has made it clear that people should wear face masks where physical distancing is difficult and we encourage passengers to follow this advice on public transport. These measures will help keep passengers safe across the whole network.”

Metlink will accept cash payment, however Auckland Transport is only accepting payments via the AT HOP card.