Within Buller District Council’s almost 8,600 km2 jurisdiction is Westport, the second largest city on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The town is home to around 5,000 residents who rely on the Westport Water Supply for their water services.
The original supply was opened in 1903, after four hand dug tunnels and timber water races were constructed between the south branch of Giles Creek, where raw water reservoirs were located. The gravity system was before its time, comprising a series of tunnels with a gradient that allowed water to flow naturally, but without scouring when the volume of water increased during rain.
Despite the system being recently upgraded to include a water treatment plant, the network is largely the same as that which has been supplying the town for more than 100 years; however, tunnel collapses in 2000 and 2009 forced short-term solutions and the council decided it was time for a permanent fix.
Westport Water Tunnel Pipeline Project was originally designed as an overland pipeline before contactor Hadlee & Brunton proposed a trenchless alternative, which was subsequently favoured by the council. Key to the company’s solution was the use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to reline the collapsed tunnel 1 with a steel pipeline using the latest in technology and equipment.
Tunnels 2 and 3 would then be piped with polyethylene (PE) similar to what was used in tunnel 4, when it was rehabilitated after collapse in 2009.
Safety at the forefront
While Hadlee & Brunton’s trenchless solution avoided the need for tunnel entry while installing the pipeline, a myriad of dangers still existed on the HDD worksite, including the handling of pipe lengths.
Director David Brunton says the company had tried every option under the sun for handling PE before using the Utility Innovations Services (UIS) Power Handler™, the revolutionary excavator attachment changing the way large pipes and ducts are handled on and off site.
Renowned for being safe, fast and easy to use, the UIS Power Handler gives the excavator operator full 360° control of the pipe, removing the need for strops and chains, eliminating the potential risks from manual handling and providing a safer and more effective way to handle pipe.
The product is capable of withstanding even the toughest pipelaying and handling environments, and is suitable for all types of pipe from 250 mm to 900 mm, including PE, steel, PVC and concrete.
“We have been working in periods of torrential rain in bushland, but with the Power Handler we’ve been moving lengths of STR 11 pipe, which is about 70 mm thick and weighs about 1.6 t,” says Mr Brunton.
“In these conditions, PE gets slippery very quickly, but using the handler has been excellent. It usually takes about half an hour to an hour to get a feel for it, but at that point and we can move pipes on a dime.”
Mr Brunton says preferencing a product that is safer and easier to use is a no brainer.
“From a safety aspect alone, the Power Handler is just incredible,” he says.
“The pipe welders and the rest of the construction team are absolutely wrapped because it’s safe. The ability to package straight up with the boom and just lift it up over bush or other obstacles is amazing, and just whipping it around you know it’s completely safe there are no issues.
“Whereas when using a strop, trying to lift on forks, or unloading a truck with a like an excavator or telehandler, if you get a little bit of angle on the ground and some moisture the pipe will just slide. With the Power Handler you know it’s got the pipe and there’s no worries.”
Mr Brunton has been so impressed with the performance and reliability of the product that he predicts the Pipe Handler will become standard in the industry before too long.
“I recommend it to anyone in the industry,” he says.
“I think it will actually become a standard. When people see how it performs on work sites, it won’t take long for it to become a recommendation that they should be on a site when you see just how safe they are.”
The Power Handler and other UIS products are exclusively supplied throughout Australia and New Zealand by Blick Group. The two companies will be displaying the products, as well as other UIS technology at No-Dig Down Under, where representatives from both companies will be on hand at to discuss and illustrate how these units make pipe installation requirements safer, faster and easier.
For more information visit the Blick Group website.
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