Australia’s best engineering projects of 2020 have been unveiled.

Throughout various award ceremonies held online by each state/division last week, Engineers Australia announced the winners of the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards for each division.

Each winner will also now be a finalist for the Sir William Hudson Award to be announced in November – the highest honour for any project awarded by Engineers Australia

(Pictured above: Yandhai Nepean Crossing, finalist, Penrith (Western Sydney). Source: supplied by Engineers Australia)

Taking out the Sydney award was the delivery of thirteen stations for the $8.3 billion Stage 1 of the Sydney Metro project by Mott McDonald, KBR and SMEC. Of the thirteen stations, eight were new whilst five are conversions from existing stations. Of the new stations, three are underground whilst three more are open cut and two are elevated.

The underground and open cut stations feature striking canopies which emulate the shape of two gum leaves connected by a sheer, glazed roof.

Careful structural and architectural design cut the volume of steelwork needed for construction by 50 percent.

The underground stations were built with more than 90 percent precast elements – the first time such a level of precast has been delivered for an underground station.

Digitising the process using BIM saw the elimination of 900 drawings.

Sydney Metro Northwest Stations project (source: supplied by Engineers Australia)

Taking out the Canberra award, the InQuik Bridge System (‘the system’) is an Australian developed, semi-modular bridge solution.

The system comprises two main parts: a steel tray and reinforcing cage forming the deck units with abutments and headstocks providing a complete bridge solution. These components are placed on-site then filled with concrete.

SMEC and InQuik Bridging Systems co-developed this through extensive engineering development, validation, and prototyping to maximise quality through pre-fabrication, ease of transport of lightweight forms and simple on-site concrete placement.

The prototype was installed in June 2016, and a multi-span bridge delivered under market conditions installed at Parsonage Creek in mid-2019.

An important feature of this system is that the concrete for the deck is completed in one pour, creating a single homogeneous slab. This eliminates longitudinal joins (a weak point of precast), more effectively resists braking inertia from large freight trucks, and reduces the frequency of required inspections and maintenance.

Guaranteed concrete cover between the reinforcing and formwork and the permanent steel formwork, meanwhile, acts as a protective shield against concrete degradation.

The system also has several advantages during installation.

A 12m panel weighs 4.1-4.6 tonnes, and can be handled and placed using a truck-mounted crane.

This compares with the 26 tonnes which a similar sized precast panel can weigh which requires significant site preparation for a heavy-duty crane.

Since the integrated formwork system supports the weight of the wet concrete until it sets, no external props or supports are needed.

Finally, impact upon the surrounding environment is minimised as the system’s offsite construction means there is no requirement to enter the waterway to erect scaffolds or formwork.

InQuik Bridge System (source: image supplied by Engineers Australia)

In Victoria, Hyperparallel OCT (HP-OCT™) for Ophthalmology and Optometry by Cylite Pty Ltd won the award.

This is the next generation of diagnostic equipment for Ophthalmologists and Optometrists, Engineers Australia says.

Designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia, it provides complete volume 3D imaging of the eye, along with accurate (to the micron level) measurements of all the key optical properties of the eye.

Hyperparallel OCT (HP-OCT™) for Ophthalmology and Optometry (image courtesy of Engineers Australia)

In Queensland, the SSR-Omni by GroundProbe took out the award with its Slope Stability Redar technology that can to monitor and detect movement and potential collapses across open cut mines and trailing dams.

In 40 seconds, the technology scans 360 degrees and takes 37 million measurements in a 11.2-kilometre diameter, showing movement of rock and ground of 0.1 millimetre precision.

Using embedded super-computing on a chip, the scan processes over 600MB of raw data down to a fraction of the size, while proprietary algorithms also predict the time of collapse and display the data in 2D and 3D patented visualisations. The day-night camera system can stream multiple video feeds at different zoom levels back to the user for real-time inspections.

SR-Omni 2 (source: supplie by Engineers Australia)

In Western Australia, Rio Tinto has taken out the award with its AutoHaul® autonomous railway system.

Described by Rio as the world’s largest robot, AutoHaul® is the first fully autonomous heavy haul railway system in the world. Trains up to 2.5 kilometres long can travel driverless across the world’s largest privately-owned rail network, which traverses some of nature’s most inhospitable landscapes.

Autohaul (source: image supplied by Engineers Australia)

In South Australia, the University of South Australia and Glaciem Cooling Technologies have won the award with their Super-efficient CO2 Refrigeration Integrated with Phase Change Energy Storage.

Based on several innovative technologies, the University of South Australia and Glaciem Cooling Technologies have designed and created a commercial scale refrigeration and thermal energy storage system for a restaurant cold store at The Bend Motorsports Park in South Australia.

The system incorporates dew point evaporative cooling integrated with CO2 refrigeration, and a phase change material energy storage system. This allows energy to be stored cheaply during times when there is excess renewable power generation or low-cost electricity. During extreme hot conditions the refrigeration system is around 65% more efficient than conventional refrigeration systems.

Super-efficient CO2 Refrigeration Integrated with Phase Change Energy Storage (source: supplied by Engineers Australia)

In Tasmania, Caterpillar MineStar Command for Underground with Autodig which is available on Caterpillar’s underground loaders. This is an advanced remote, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous mining system that allows operators of various skill levels to safely mine ore from the safety and comfort of a remote operator station.

This system is an enabler of workforce diversity in underground mining by creating the opportunity for pregnant employees and employees with disabilities to participate in mining regardless of physical or medical restrictions.

Caterpillar MineStar Command for Underground with Autodig (source: supplied by Engineers Australia)

In the Northern Territory, INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG has taken out the award.

This is one of the largest, technically challenging and complex liquefied natural gas developments in the world. It is essentially three mega-projects in one, consisting of some of the world’s largest facilities in offshore Western Australia and an 890-kilometre subsea pipeline and state- of- the-art onshore liquefied natural gas processing and exporting facility at Bladin Point, Darwin.

Ichthys LNG Project (source: supplied by Engineers Australia)

In Newcastle, the award has been won by a water treatment plant Project Gilghi by Ampcontrol and Aurecon.

This takes feed water from a variety of sources, including groundwater, rivers, lakes and oceans and turns it into drinkable water, compliant with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

It has been initially deployed in the community of Gillen Bore, which until 2019 relied on the continued transport (150-kilometre round trip from Alice Springs) of potable water due to the high salinity, hardness and low pH levels found in their existing bore water.

The plant provides Gillen Bore with a reliable source of quality potable water.

Described by Engineers Australia as a ‘breakthrough solution, the modular units are versatile, self-sufficient (solar powered and off-grid) and run by reverse osmosis.

Project Gilghi (image supplied by Engineers Australia)

Engineers Australia CEO Bronwyn Evans congratulated all of this year’s nominees.

“The Australian Engineering Excellence Awards allow us to celebrate outstanding achievements in engineering and showcase the winning projects’ innovations and use of ground-breaking technology and techniques,” Evans said.

“Though varied, each of these projects demonstrates the profound impact engineering has on society and strives to make positive changes to our everyday lives. Congratulations to all 2020 AEEA finalists.”


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