Electrix completes four year retrofit program in Victoria
In late 2012 Electrix was entrusted by Powercor Australia with a major contract to undertake their Armour Rod & Vibration Damper Retrofit Program across it’s entire electricity distribution network in Western Victoria.
This important program of work was undertaken to deliver key network safety improvements as required to comply with a directive from Energy Safe Victoria following the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission which investigated the Black Saturday fires of early 2009; the most devastating in Australian history.
The contract required retrofitting of spiral dampers and armour rods on more than 190,000 spans of 66kV, 22kV and SWER overhead power lines within High Bushfire Risk Areas mostly located in rural areas. The majority of work was to be undertaken under “live line” conditions to minimise network outages and disruption to consumers.
The purpose of armour rods is to protect the conductor surface from mechanical damage where it contacts the tie and insulator on pole crossarms. Similarly spiral dampers are installed to prevent or reduce the severity of conductor vibration thereby reducing the abrasion damages to ties. The scope of work also included capture of detailed conductor condition data at each site.
Preparation by Powercor prior to commencement of the field work program required extensive analysis of asset data and preparation of designs to suit the various line configurations.
Commencing in February 2013, Electrix mobilised a highly trained workforce of live line, “Glove & Barrier” qualified lineworkers under the direction of an experienced management and supervision team. The program ran over a 4 year contract term and required a peak workforce of up to 60 field personnel and 20 live line EWP’s. At the peak of the program crews were installing hardware at up to 7,000 sites per month. The program was successfully completed at the end of 2016.
The major challenges faced by Electrix on this work program included:
• Rapid mobilization of a large, specialist live line field resource;
• Maintaining safe work practices with a strong focus on fatigue management and the risks associated with travel over long distances and repetitive tasks;
• Effective planning, scheduling and management of high work volumes across wide geographic areas to maximize field productivity;
• Accessing remote and difficult sites;
• Accessing private properties, at times requiring detailed customer negotiations for best access;
• Managing seasonal factors including work restrictions during total fire ban days and accessing assets located in crops.
The success of the project was underpinned by close cooperation between Powercor and Electrix project teams, ensuring that key program targets and priorities were maintained and that there was open communication at all times. A further key factor was the implementation of a custom tailored field mobility solution for planning and allocation of work packages. This provided crews with paperless access to key documentation and information required to deliver the field works. It also ensured that job status and asset data was updated in an efficient and timely manner to allow Powercor to meet regulatory reporting requirements.
Speaking at a recent joint event to celebrate the successful completion of this work Tony Croagh, General Manager for Electrix stated “We were honoured that Powercor showed the confidence in Electrix to deliver 100% of this important program. The success of the project further sustains the strong relationships which Electrix has enjoyed with Powercor as a key service provider for almost 20 years. Most importantly we are pleased and proud of the outstanding safety performance of our crews who delivered almost 500,000 man hours on the project, often under difficult conditions, with no lost time injuries.”
Speaking on behalf of Powercor, Paul Sutherland, Program Manager, Network Projects responded, “Working with Electrix and especially so closely with the project team has been very enjoyable. The team delivered a great result and the collaborative working environment meant there was good communication making it easy for both teams to discuss and work through issues. The Electrix team has been consistent and reliable, and their knowledge and support exceptional. We have appreciated Electrix’s contribution to the successful delivery of this important project.”