News

Good Looks Are Just The Beginning
Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia
Controlling Inventory Securely and Efficiently
Bottled Water with a Vital Objective
Blackwoods major sponsor for Hunter Coal Festival

Good Looks Are Just The Beginning

Good Looks Are Just The Beginning

There is more to Sydney’s Barangaroo buildings than just their obvious beauty; the precinct is also being recognised globally for its outstanding environmental credentials.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Autumn 2015.

When complete, Barangaroo will showcase how city populations can live sustainably.

Being Australia’s first carbon neutral building means neutral in operation, inclusive of electricity and gas use, residual waste emissions, and commuters travelling to and from the site.

The precinct’s sustainability initiatives include an on-site blackwater treatment plant capable of supplying one million litres of recycled water a day to the precinct and surrounding buildings.

The recycled treatment plant will be able to produce around one megalitre of recycled water a day, which will be distributed to all the buildings for flushing toilets, washing down and irrigation.

When the first of the Barangaroo buildings (Tower 2) opens later this year, Sydney-siders and visitors alike will be amazed by the building’s beauty and fine architectural lines overlooking the harbour, but what most people won’t realise is that the majority of the innovative elements of the building are hidden away.

Currently under construction on Sydney’s CBD harbourside, the 42-storey Tower 2 is the largest building to receive the 6 Star Green Star - Office Design v3 rating, and is shaping up to be in Sydney’s most vibrant precinct, all in Australia’s first carbon-neutral community.

Valued at over $6bn, Barangaroo is Sydney’s biggest development project since the 2000 Olympics and one of the most significant waterfront regenerations currently underway anywhere in the world.

When complete, Barangaroo will showcase how city populations can live sustainably, all serviced by new and extended transport systems.

Over time, 23,000 people will live and work in the precinct, with 33,000 people expected to visit Barangaroo each day. It will be progressively delivered over the next ten to fifteen years.

The 22 hectare site has been divided into three redevelopment areas - Barangaroo Point with six hectares of public waterfront walks and parks, Barangaroo South a major new business, tourism, residential and retail precinct, while Central Barangaroo will be a cultural and civic focal point for recreation, events and entertainment. At this stage, Crown’s much talked about hotel and casino is still not finalised, with Crown expected to submit a Development Application to the NSW Government showing the plans and design of the hotel in the near future.

Owned by the NSW Government and managed by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Lend Lease was granted the development rights for the Barangaroo South precinct.

Anita Mitchell, Lend Lease’s General Manager Sustainability at Barangaroo South, describes the project, which has Tower 2 as the central of the three buildings comprising International Towers Sydney (ITS), as a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the city of Sydney.

“We are building something really special here. These buildings will be world class in terms of their energy and water performance, and their waste management.

“They will stand here for the next 50 to 100 years, for we have built and hard wired the infrastructure to stand the test of time.”

Mitchell explained that all three ITS buildings will feature high-performance solar shading facades as well as energy-saving centralised cooling systems that utilise water from Sydney Harbour.

The buildings will be part of a precinct-wide sustainability strategy which assists not only the commercial and residential buildings at Barangaroo South but also the local neighbourhood.

“Plus with energy-efficient designs, on and offsite low carbon and renewable energy teamed with zero carbon waste treatment and commuter carbon emission offsets, it will result in a net carbon neutral outcome for the precinct’s operational energy use,” Mitchell said.

The precinct’s sustainability initiatives include an on-site blackwater treatment plant capable of supplying one million litres of recycled water a day to the precinct and surrounding buildings.

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said a Green Star Design rating requires “a commitment to innovation and a holistic approach to green building design.”

“Once again, Lend Lease has sent a clear signal that a green building can be good for both the environment and the tenants who choose such offices.

“Those organisations moving into Tower 2 will be working in one of the world’s most sustainable business addresses,” Madew said.

Mitchell explained that the 6 Star Green Star rating for Tower 2 was just the beginning.

“Tower 2 was our first cab off the rank, and we have just finalised our round two submission for Tower 3 which is the next building going up.”

Mitchell pointed out that Tower 1 has already received enough Green Star points, 78 points under round one, to qualify for a 6 Star rating. (75 points are needed to achieve a 6 Star rating).

“T2 is only the second building ever to have enough points after just the first round to achieve a 6 Star rating,” she said.

“However, we will re submit it for round two so we can get the additional points, which will take us up to 85 points, then we will announce the rating.

“And once we get feedback on the Tower 1 building, we will re-submit our documentation to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating there as well,” Mitchell said.

Being carbon-neutral

Mitchell explains that being Australia’s first carbon neutral building means neutral in operation, inclusive of electricity and gas use, any residual waste emissions, and commuters travelling to and from the construction site.

“For example, we have carbon offsets for the commuters coming and going, with the precinct fed with renewable energy.

“Plus we have reduced our carbon footprint as much as we can through precinct infrastructure and building design, and the amount of electricity used within the precinct.

“For the rest of the electricity demand we have installed just over 6000m2 of solar panels, which covers nearly all of the buildings’ roof tops.

“We also will have about a megawatt of gas fired generation, which is still to be finalised, but it will be put in as another demand site initiative, and then we move to an off-site solution.”

Lend Lease has established, through its 99-year ground leases and tenancy agreements, that owners and tenants contribute to the support of the community carbon fund, meaning the Barangaroo precinct is carbon-neutral in perpetuity.

“What’s different about this site is that we have included other emissions such as tenancy emissions to become a carbon-neutral precinct.”

Mitchell explained that the Barangaroo project is one of 18 projects globally that are part of the US Clinton Climate Initiative’s Climate Positive Development Program designed to tackle climate change.

“The Victoria Harbour project, which is another Lend Lease project, is the only other one in Australia, with the other projects scattered around the world.”

The projects are looking at different ways of achieving carbon neutrality in practice.

“As part of the program, with the help of the City of Sydney, we share the mechanisms we are using, which can then be picked up and used around the world to tackle climate change.

“And Barangaroo is the first project to have its roadmap certified. We are really leading the way in how a big urban development project can actually provide for a new city, but do it in a way that does not impact on the environment,” she said.

Project challenges

While Tower 2 is on track to open as scheduled in the middle of this year, Mitchell admitted the project has not been without its challenges.

“Where we are building has been one of the biggest challenges; building on reclaimed land.

“Getting the project out of the ground and the remediation of the contaminated land was very challenging. It took a lot of time and effort at the beginning of the project.”

Then having the harbour right next to project was another major challenge for the construction company.

To keep the water out, the company built a massive retention wall system, much like a giant bath tub, to keep the harbour out.

“Once we had that in place we could focus on more traditional methods of construction, putting in piles and slowly getting the building out of the ground,” Mitchell explained.

Another of the challenges the company faced was the implementation of the shared infrastructure, in both a legal and practical sense, adding a lot of complexity to the project.

“Getting building owners to understand that they won’t be owning their chiller, for example, was one major challenge.

“Then we had to work out how to allocate energy to different buildings, things like materials credits and how to rate a building that ties into an existing building that might have been rated under a different version of the Green Star rating system five years ago.”

Mitchell admitted it was very difficult at times working through all the issues involved with a shared infrastructure.

“However, the GBCA and our neighbours have been incredibly supportive in helping us overcome these logistical issues of trying to rate stand-alone buildings with shared infrastructure.

“People have talked about precinct shared infrastructure as the way of the future, but we are the first company to do it in Australia, and have had to change the rules as we have gone along,” she said.

There are many examples of shared infrastructure in Europe and the Middle East but this is the first time in Australia in a precinct nature.

Interestingly, Lend Lease has built the infrastructure and, at this stage, is planning to have private utility ownership of that, rather than as a government utility.

The utility will distribute chilled water for air conditioning, and recycled water to the buildings in the precinct, to flush the toilets, cleaning and irrigation.

Plus the precinct has its own electrical network, which is connected to the Ausgrid network with a higher voltage, 33kv, than the traditional voltage found in Sydney’s CBD.

Mitchell is unsure whether the shared infrastructure concept will take off in Australia.

“We had a unique opportunity here, to build our own little city. Whether there are similar opportunities in other large CBD developments, to bring in private utilities to service buildings like they have in Paris, Barcelona and Dubai, remains to be seen.

“Having a shared infrastructure introduces a whole range of efficiencies that you would not get by doing one building at a time.”

But she readily admits it would be very difficult to do something like the Barangaroo project retrospectively.

“And because we have a huge mixture of residential, commercial and retail, we have a wonderful diversity across the buildings, and when occupied, will operate at different times of the day.

“This mixture has allowed us to minimise the capacity we have had to put in, which has helped us with our efficiencies in water consumption and electricity usage,” Mitchell said.

While building a 6 Star Green Star building comes with additional costs, Mitchell says Lend Lease was able to reduce the cost impact considerably by being innovative and efficient in the construction process.

“By having centralised services that frees up a lot of premium space in the buildings that would traditionally be used to house all the building’s infrastructure plant.

“Plus we are able to pull out around 10 per cent of the total infrastructure costs because of the centralised services, and the diversity of load.

“Obviously there is some degree of premium to build a 6 Star building, but the tenants we are working with demand that environmental level of construction,” she said.

Environmental innovation

Mitchell pointed out that the precinct is packed with innovative ideas gleaned from around the world, all designed to make the buildings more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The design of the energy saving centralised cooling system, for example, does not use cooling towers to reduce the buildings’ heat, instead Lend Lease is taking advantage of the location, and will take water out of the harbour.

The water will go through a cooling plant in the basement of the building, and take all the heat away from the building and transfer it into the harbour.

Mitchell says the heat dissipates very quickly and will have no negative impact on the marine life in the harbour environment.

Interestingly, there are a few other buildings around Sydney harbour which use water from the harbour for cooling purposes, including the Opera House and the AMP building since the late 60s. However, the Barangaroo project is by far the largest one.

The environmental team have done an enormous amount of thermal modelling to understand the potential impact on the harbour, from an ecological point of view, plus take into consideration all the other buildings around the harbour.

“The EPA has seen all our modelling and the organisation is quite happy with what we will be able to achieve,” she said.

Mitchell estimates they will probably end up with 16 large chilling machines in the basement, which will be capable of delivering up to 72 megawatts of refrigeration, making it the biggest plant in Australia.

As well, they have developed non-toxic systems that will prevent marine growth in the cooling system and overcome many on-going maintenance issues.

Mitchell pointed out that the recycled treatment plant is water positive. “Meaning we will export as much recycled water off site as the amount of potable water we use on site.”

In its development capacity, the plant will be able to produce around one megalitre of recycled water a day, which will be distributed to all the buildings for flushing toilets, washing down and irrigation.

“We also have the potential to export the water to other buildings including Barangaroo Central and Barangaroo Park,” Mitchell said.

And not just recycled water, 99% of the construction waste on site is presently being recycled.

“We had a target of 97% but we are currently achieving 99% of construction waste. A great achievement,” said Mitchell.

To reduce the need for air conditioning, the environmental team has developed an innovative solar shading system.

“We have modelled every façade on the Tower 2 building. Working with the architectural team, we have come up with both fixed and moveable shading elements. The moveable elements are the internal blinds, while the fixed shades are both vertical and horizontal to maximise daylight.”

Mitchell said they decided against floor to ceiling glass. “It looks prettier, but adds a lot of heat loads. Instead we opted for windows with a small spandrel to add to the thermal efficiency of the building.”

Another major environmental innovation Mitchell is particularly proud of is achieving 20% less embodied carbon in the buildings compared to standard construction practices.

“It’s great to be carbon neutral in operation, but there is an enormous amount of carbon that is embodied into a building. The concrete, the steel, the glass and the aluminium, for example, all have a fairly heavy carbon footprint.

“We have had an analyst working with us for over four years looking at ways of taking carbon out of our supply chain, plus working with our design team to minimise our carbon footprint by ‘dematerialisation’.

“By that I mean areas such as rationalising the number of piles, looking at the floor to slab thickness to make sure we have not over engineered any of the structures. That’s been an enormous project that we have undertaken.”

The team has also worked with Boral, the project’s concrete supplier, on producing different concrete mixes, with low-carbon Portland cement replacement products used where the team can.

Boral has two concrete batching plants on site, which supplies most of the concrete on site giving the team complete control of the quality and timings.

“We have also worked with our façade contractors and steel manufacturers to go back through their supply chains to maximise the use of the most low-carbon embodied products possible,” Mitchell said.

Social sustainability

As well as the environmental sustainability, equally important to Mitchell is the social sustainability side of the project, with a heavy engagement with the Indigenous community, with a community Indigenous hub onsite, for example.

“We are targeting 500 Indigenous workers being engaged as workers onsite throughout the life of the development, and work closely with Supply Nation, for example, for various sub-contractors and materials we can use onsite.

“For the skilled trades, 20% of the skilled trade work on site is targeted to be done by apprentices to boost apprenticeship numbers.

“Plus we have established the Barangaroo Skills Exchange, which is basically an onsite TAFE funded by Federal Government through the Skills Connect program, to subsidise the training onsite.”

Mitchell said they have had more than 10,000 accredited learning outcomes already, and a very big uptake from the workforce to upgrade their technical skills as well as their language and numeracy skills.

“Many of the workers were surprised to see it here, but they have really embraced it as their own.”

At present there are just over 2000 workers on site, but that figure is expected to grow over the coming months as the Tower 2 building moves into finishing trades with an increase in manual labour.

Mitchell is rightly very proud of what they have delivered to date, an extension of the CBD right down to the waterfront.

“This is my dream job, and we are on track to achieve our ambitious goal of making Barangaroo the new benchmark in terms of its economic, social and environmental outcomes,” Mitchell concluded.

Back to top

Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia

Hydrogen-powered cars step up a gear in Australia

Hyundai’s recent decision to permanently import one of its hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) is a strong indication where the industry is going.

Written by Alan Johnson for TecTorque Autumn 2015

A Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, a hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) built in Ulsan, South Korea is the first hydrogen-powered car to be permanently imported into the country.

The vehicle is the first component of Hyundai’s plan to operate a test fleet of ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles in Australia. As such, it represents a pioneering step towards the commercial availability of emissions-free hydrogen powered vehicles in Australia.

To fuel the vehicle, Hyundai has installed Australia’s first hydrogen car refuelling station, a special hydrogen storage and dispensing system, at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, NSW.

Coregas, a division of Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety, worked closely with Air Products, an international gases company and supplier of the refuelling station, to provide a complete refuelling solution for Hyundai, and is supplying the high purity compressed hydrogen.

Charlie Kim, CEO of Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA), pointed out that in February 2013, Hyundai Motor Company became the first automobile manufacturer in the world to begin mass-production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle – the ix35 Fuel Cell.

“This gave HMCA the ability to order a FCEV in the same way as we order any other new Hyundai car. Now we have one, we believe this fantastic car will help demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a green transport solution for Australia.”

“Ultimately, we see no reason why Australians should not enjoy the same environmental solutions as consumers in other markets,” Kim said.

“Hyundai strongly supports the idea of a ‘Hydrogen Highway’ in Australia like those already in operation overseas, and we are committed to working with local partners to try to facilitate this.”

In Europe and the US, ‘Hydrogen Highways’ have been built by government and private partnerships for use by FCEVs, along with other hydrogen-powered vehicles such as buses.

In some cases the refuelling stations generate their own hydrogen by using solar energy and electrolysers – this creates an entirely ‘green’ transport network, with neither the fuel generation process nor the hydrogen vehicles themselves emitting any harmful by-products or burning fossil fuels.

Hume by Hydrogen

HMCA plans to build an electrolyser in partnership with Australian company Sefca at its Macquarie Park headquarters, and install a solar array to power both it and the refueller, making the HRS fully self-sustainable, with hydrogen made on-site.

However, the challenge of creating and distributing hydrogen through a viable, sustainable network is a significant one.

“We are not a political entity, nor are we aligned with any political party. However, we have seen in other countries that Governments play a crucial role in developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure,” said Kim.

“To that end, HMCA’s Fuel Cell Team has visited Canberra on a number of occasions over the last two years to brief Federal Ministers about our hydrogen car. The reaction has been very positive.

“One of our proposals is the ‘Hume by Hydrogen’, which could link Australia’s two largest cities via the nation’s capital.

“It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and in between, and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on the Hydrogen Highway emitting nothing but water vapour.

“A project like ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ would surely demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively, and we want our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about a hydrogen infrastructure in Australia for the benefit of future generations.”

HMCA has begun discussions with a number of interested local partners to advance its thinking and seek support for its proposals.

Wodek Jakubik, Market Development Manager with Coregas, said this is an exciting time to be involved in the project, and at such an early stage.

“We are proud to help Hyundai to bring the first fuel cell vehicles to Australia.”

He said most other major car makers, including Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes are at various stages of developing hydrogen-powered cars.

“Already, one other car manufacturer has approached Hyundai about refuelling their own test vehicles at Macquarie Park, so there is a potential for us to work with other car makers in the future.

“Involvement of multiple manufacturers with hydrogen-powered vehicles could provide the additional impetus needed to get infrastructure in place,” he said.

For the next stage in the project, Hyundai will import more cars and will be driving the iX35s around Australia to test the vehicles under Australian conditions.

“Coregas has branches and suppliers all over Australia, so we can easily supply hydrogen for refuelling wherever they require,” Jakubik said.

He explained that Coregas produces hydrogen at its main production plant in Port Kembla, NSW, which is the biggest hydrogen plant in Australia and has been in operation since the 1980s.

“We also opened a second plant at Mackay, Queensland in 2014, so we’re confident we can provide a consistent, reliable supply of gas no matter how this grows.

“Longer term, we are working with global leaders in technology and can even provide solutions to produce hydrogen on-site if there’s a demand,” he said.

Another possible project for Coregas is hydrogen-powered forklifts, with the company already talking to forklift manufacturers about this as a possibility.

Like the FCEVs, hydrogen-powered forklifts are already in use in the US and Europe, but the technology is new to Australia.

“The big advantage with hydrogen-powered forklifts is that they are usually based at one location, so they don’t require significant investment in infrastructure or changes in government policy.

“They simply require one hydrogen refuelling station on site and we can supply the gas in cylinders or generate it on site as required,” Jakubik said.

The cars

The ix35 Fuel Cell is one of the most advanced cars in the world, running on hydrogen and emitting nothing but water vapour from its exhaust pipe.

Hydrogen from the vehicle’s fuel tank is mixed with air and converted to electricity by a fuel cell stack – the electricity then powers the ix35 Fuel Cell’s electric motor.

The vehicle is near-silent, efficient, and emissions-free. It is also very safe, meeting the world’s most stringent vehicle safety standards. It is as practical and useful as a standard petrol- or diesel-powered ix35, with comparable interior space and similar performance.

The imported car is a left-hand-drive, European-specification ix35 Fuel Cell, as this model is currently not made in right hand drive.

The ix35 Fuel Cell develops 100kW of power and 300Nm of torque and has an official maximum range of 594km. A Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell set a record in July last year for the longest journey completed by a vehicle on a single tank of hydrogen, driving 700km through Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Scott Nargar, HMCA’s Product Planning Manager and head of the HMCA Fuel Cell Program, said the car is surprisingly quick, as well as being safe to drive.

“It develops maximum torque at zero revs and accelerates more rapidly than you’d expect.

“When some members of the Australian media drove this version of the ix35 Fuel Cell recently at Hyundai’s Namyang proving ground, they were surprised by how ‘natural’ the car is to drive. It’s near-silent, too, the same as any electric car,” Nargar said.

The ix35 Fuel Cell can accelerate from 0-100kmh in 12.5 seconds and its maximum speed is 160kmh.

“It is no racing car, but it’s not slow. It’s like a normal car in most ways, but it’s an electric vehicle, so it makes no engine noise and has no gearbox,” Nargar said.

He said it’s far too early to talk about pricing, and when the vehicles will be available for sale in Australia, but Nargar did reveal that private customers are leasing ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles for $US499 per month in Los Angeles as part of an advanced hydrogen scheme, and many more ix35 Fuel Cells are operational throughout Europe.

“The delivery of Australia’s first FCEV marks a significant step in developing a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in this country.”

The technology

Nargar said the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell is essentially an electric car, with the electricity supplied by a fuel cell stack.

“The really clever part happens inside the fuel cell itself - in simple terms, Hydrogen molecules from the fuel tank are combined with air, and passed through a membrane in a process called electrolysis, which creates the electricity used to power the car’s electric motor,” he explained.

The ix35 Fuel Cell uses what’s known as a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) Fuel Cell.

Here’s what happens:

1. A fuel cell has two electrodes, an anode and a cathode that are separated by a membrane.

2. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other.

3. The hydrogen reacts to a catalyst on the electrode anode that converts the hydrogen gas into negatively-charged electrons (e-) and positively charged ions (H +).

4. The electrons flow out of the cell to be used as electrical energy.

5. The hydrogen ions move through the electrolyte membrane to the cathode electrode where they combine with oxygen to produce heat and water.

Regarding the safety of the hydrogen fuel, the ix35 Fuel Cell meets the strictest global vehicle safety standards with over 30 of the vehicles crash-tested to verify its level of safety.

Many Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles are now operational on public roads around the world, including in California and countries throughout Europe.

Hydrogen is an ultra-light element that dissipates quickly when it comes into contact with the atmosphere, unlike petrol which can form in pools and burn.

“It is flammable, yes, but no more dangerous than other gases and arguably less dangerous than a fluid like petrol.”

The car’s hydrogen tanks are constructed with steel and carbon composite wrap, enough to contain the gas at a maximum pressure of 700bar (10,000psi).

Nargar said the hydrogen tanks have had bullets fired at them, have been put into fire baths and subjected to other extreme tests to verify their immense strength, explaining that the fuel pressure is greatly reduced before it enters the vehicle’s fuel cell stack.

“In short, the ix35 Fuel Cell is extremely safe. Plus it’s also worth noting that Australia is quite advanced with the use of other gaseous fuels like LPG and CNG, so hydrogen technology, more advanced than LPG, should represent no great challenge for Australia in safety terms.”

When it’s time to refuel the vehicle, Nargar says that with an advanced, full-size 700bar (10,000psi) refueller like those used in Europe and America, fill time is about three minutes, the same as a normal petrol or diesel car.

“However, the refueller we have installed at HMCA is a small 350bar compressor, offering a fill time between three and seven minutes.

“And refuelling at 350bar instead of 700bar will mean our vehicle will have a range of approximately 300km – ample to demonstrate its capabilities.”

Could a ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ highway be built by 2020?

“Of course. The potential is there for hydrogen highways, and for even more ambitious plans to power remote communities using solar and hydrogen technology. Such schemes could include completely emissions-free transport built in.

“Over the past two years, discussions have been held with global infrastructure manufacturers, with one even showing interest in manufacturing the Hydrogen stations in Australia – a great way to create engineering and manufacturing jobs.

“HMCA is committed to hydrogen technology, but it will only work if vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers work together with businesses and Governments to start planning for a greener future today,” Nargar said.

History

While the first fuel cells were invented in 1838, the first commercial use of fuel cells came more than a century later in NASA space programs to generate power for probes, satellites and space capsules.

Since then, fuel cells have been used in many other application such as for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel-cell vehicles, including forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and submarines.

Last year Toyota announced it has allowed a battery-supply deal with Tesla Motors to expire and will focus instead on building cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, a next-generation technology that rivals Tesla’s all-electric systems.

A fuel cell is like a battery in that it generates electricity from an electrochemical reaction. Fuel cells however use an external supply of chemical energy meaning they can run indefinitely, as long as they are supplied with a source of hydrogen and a source of oxygen (usually air).

Fuel cell technology offers clean, ef?cient, reliable power generation to almost any device requiring electrical power. Arguably, fuel cells represent the most versatile energy solution ever invented.

Back to top

Controlling Inventory Securely and Efficiently

Controlling Inventory Securely and Efficiently

The latest vending machine systems offer companies a cost effective way to distribute fast moving PPE and MRO consumables in the workplace.

Written by Alan Johnson, for TecTorque Winter 2014

Traditionally, the dispensing and control of items such as MRO (Maintenance Repair Operation) supplies, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) items, spare parts and other indirect materials used in day-to-day operations has been through a traditional store, however today there are many other alternatives.

Increasingly technology is being utilised to automate and control inhouse distribution of these items, with Blackwoods now offering a broad range of solutions; from a variety of standard vendingmachine stock dispensers, through to sophisticated RFID tracking systems.

Craige Bradford, Blackwoods National Manager for Business Services, explains that these electronic solutions offer a wide range of benefits, including increased monitoring via authorisation levels, stock and access limits, consistent product availability and the ability for the stock to be located where usage occurs.

“These systems also offer companies significant cost saving opportunities in inventory management and increased accuracy.”

Bradford said the key benefits are controlling usage and accountability.

“With employees required to scan in to the machine before gaining access to the stock, the computer tracks exactly what they have taken, the quantity, and at what time the transaction took place.”

He said the vending machines can have a positive influence on the behaviour of employees with regard to utilising products from the stores.

“Already we have a number of companies in industries such as mining, aerospace and manufacturing taking advantage of these machines,” he said. Bradford explained that while demand is coming from larger customers at the moment, he said the systems are suitable for any size company that uses high volumes of consumable items and is looking to control usage, avoid waste, hoarding and generally increase efficiency.

“Surprisingly, we have found that many of our larger customers struggle to control their inventory management processes, often providing employees with open access to a whole range of products,” he said.

As a consequence, he says, they have limited visibility of what is going out of the door, who it’s going to, which section of their business is using these products, and when replenishment is required.

“However, with these types of solutions our customers gain full visibility of where usage is occurring going and who is utilising it.”

He said that as well as assisting customers to control their usage and eliminate waste, vending systems are also suitable for customers who are looking to build specific product compliance with their employees.

“We now have a whole range of vending solutions for our customers. It all depends on what is the best fit for them; whether they are looking for high security or more usability where employees have access to a broader range of products with shorter issue time frames.”

As Bradford pointed out, every business has security level requirements for their inventory. “Whether a company requires basic storage and identification so items can be inventoried quickly, low security to control the distribution of inventory, or maximum security for highaccountability tool control among users, we now offer customised storage solutions that provide the proper level of security for any operation.

“For example, we have systems that use RFID technology to monitor and track tool movement when positive tool control is critical.”

He explained that the range of machines goes from the basic “coil” type of vending machine, “which is great for PPE items”, right through to Weigh Station solutions which are typically larger machines with bins and weigh scale technology that measure the quantity of items taken.

He said the machines use sophisticated technology, which can manage consumables, durables, serialised items, kits and assemblies in a completely passive device.

“Using ultra-sensitive, highly accurate scale and bin technology, these machines can be used for easy fast dispensing, and replenishment of bulk items, with no repackaging or tagging required.

“They are also fully configurable for large and small items with up to 140 bins,” he said.

Bradford explained that Blackwoods has partnered with US storage systems and technology provider Cribmaster to offer customers this service solution.

“Cribmaster has the widest range of machines on the market and are supported by sophisticated software packages that can provide over 200 standard reports, plus reports can be tailored to suit individual customer needs.”

“These machines are ideal for all fast moving consumables, and we have a solution to suit almost every product,” he said.

Bradford said the systems are very popular with companies looking to adopt Lean principles within their processes, as they are taking the goods out of the store and positioning them close to the actual point of use.

“In a traditional situation, a person may have to walk to a store room, have a bit of a chat with the storeperson while he is issuing stock, then walk back to his work station.

“From a lean perspective, they might have wasted some time in that whole process, but with these vending machines located at the point of use, a lot of that time is saved and productivity increases.” Bradford also pointed out that with access to these machines normally 24/7, there is the ability to dispense fast moving products after hours.

“The procurement and replenishment processes are also automated with these machines. For example, as a person is taking items out of the machine, the software sends a notice to the relevant servicing branch, which in turn generates a picking slip to replenishment the goods.”

As Bradford explained, this takes away the need for the customer to generate any purchase orders, making the process very efficient and offering productivity improvements.

“We can even provide on-site services to replenish the machines through our own site facilitators,” he said.

Happy customers
Bradford said the machines are very popular with several of Blackwoods national multi-site customers, with the software able to give them a clear consolidated view of what is going through these machines at all their operations.

“For example, a large mining company, which recently rolled these machines out across a number of remote sites, is now able to draw data from everyone of those machines and see what the usage analysis is from each of their operations across the country.”

He said that by utilising the same brand of machine and software, the customer can see who is using what products and how many from one central point in their organisation.

Another large company taking advantage of these latest vending machines is Jetstar, who has recently installed one at its light engineering facility on the edge of Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport.

Ben Knabe, Light Maintenance Manager at Jetstar Engineering, explained that the facility is a large wide-bodied hanger where the airline does all its light maintenance work on its Boeing 787 and Airbus A320 family aircraft.

“The vending system enables us to offer the free issue of all our PPE items, including safety glasses and gloves, plus our regular high use items, such as batteries and tape, to all our staff.

“With this system we can ensure accurate inventory lists,” Knabe said.

He said that previously a lot of these items were available for staff to just take from the shelf.

“The problem was our computer system would often think some were still there, when in fact there was none.”

And with safety a key focus for Jetstar, Knabe said he needed to make sure PPE is always there, and the guys are using it.

“So rather than having to make sure that every piece of PPE they need is booked out of the stores, the guys can simply go and help themselves.

“Now, when an engineer needs PPE or some batteries for his torch, we always have stock for him to use.”

With the Jetstar facility operating 24/7, Knabe said it is important engineers always have access to the system.

“Now they can access the items they need very quickly, without any interaction with a storeman or anything like that.

“With the industry we are in, where a lot of guys can get hurt, having the PPE available all the time is very important, while another benefit, but to a lesser extent, is governance,” he said.

“If an engineer removes a large volume of an item, I could see it on the system and have a little chat to him to see why.”

He said another secondary benefit is pre-approved purchase orders, which cuts out a lot of time for Jetstar’s purchasing department.

“Plus as the system becomes more mature we will be able to see consumable averages per aircraft, and we can budget for that. And for all these items, we have no interaction with our purchasing department at all,” Knabe said.

While the vending system has only been in use for a relatively short period, Knabe said he is very pleased with the system and the service.

“The guys at Blackwoods and Cribmaster have been fantastic; they are great companies to deal with. The installation process went quite seamlessly,” Knabe said.

He said he would recommend the vending machines to other companies.

v “It’s a really good bit of kit,” Knabe concluded.

Back to top

Bottled Water with a Vital Objective

Bottled Water with a Vital Objective

A new bottled water on the market does more than quench a person's thirst, it funds a worthy Indigenous program designed to inspire and empower local youth in outback Australia.

Written by Alan Johnson, for TecTorque Summer 2013

Yaru Water came into being as a result of a family friendship and a shared vision - to unite, share and close the gap of disadvantage of Indigenous communities. Attendees at the program, Indigenous boys and girls, come from all over Australia for up to 12 weeks. Yaru Water is single-origin spring water, bottled at the source, without the use of chemicals.

Yaru Water co-founders Kyle Slabb and Shaun Martin.

Walking through your local supermarket aisles, there appears little difference in the bottles of spring water on offer; however Yaru Spring Water completely dispels that myth - that all bottled water is the same. 

Yaru Water is very different and came into being as a result of a family friendship and a shared vision - to unite, share and close the gap of disadvantage in indigenous communities.

By joining forces and establishing Yaru, (an Indigenous owned spring water company), the Slabbs, (an Indigenous family of Bundjalung heritage), and the Martins, (the family behind the Mount Warning Spring Water Company), have created a vehicle for change.

Together, with proceeds generated from the sale of bottled Yaru Water, the visionaries and brotherhood behind the brand, facilitate indigenous leadership programs, imparting Bundjalung cultural teachings while utilising Mount Warning Spring Water Company's facilities and resources.

Yaru, in partnership with several Indigenous Leadership Organisations, has developed Indigenous Leadership Development and Capacity Building Programs designed for emerging Indigenous leaders. The programs are about leadership development in the context of intentional community development.

Joint Yaru Founder and Director Kyle Slabb said this latest program he is working on only started last year, and is a special one to him, already.

"We have run similar programs before, but we saw a real need for a leadership program, so Yaru Water was developed to support these programs. We had seen a number of Indigenous kids programs offering leadership in a cultural context, all designed to look at kids at risk. This is what we based this program on," he said.

Slabb explained that this program is funded by proceeds from Yaru Water, with no government assistance, though he does admit the program does have a few groups who financially assist them.

"However, we run a pretty lean team here, with only eight of us managing the entire program," he said. 

Program's Goals:

Slabb said the program's main goal is to build capacity around young Indigenous leaders and to expose them to a lot of different situations to be better equipped to be able to take a leadership position in their communities.

"The program is designed to give emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders the confidence to take on these roles."

He said the Leadership Programs are designed to be a platform for exploring cultural identity and spirituality, action/reflection learning, personal and peer mentoring, and practical application in a number of urban, rural and remote contexts.

"The attendees spend a bit of time here, plus they spend some time in the outback in Central Australia and also up into the top end, to Cape York and to remote communities elsewhere to get some experience in different communities. We also take them to urban environments, to the cities. It could be Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and look at different programs that are happening there and different leadership opportunities."

Slabb said the attendees are aged from around 16 up to 25, and a mix of boys and girls.

"Interestingly, we have had more girls through the program than boys, but only slightly more.  They come from all over Australia for up to 12 weeks, though 8 weeks is the average now."

He said the program runs twice a year at present, plus they host other different groups that also include leadership programs and different cultural programs.

"Already, with this program in its current form, we have had over 200 attendees so far. Plus we have had numerous success stories, with well over 50% of our students going on to engage in leadership positions within their community, and further their studies to build their capacity to take out leadership positions in their community. And not just leadership, we had two young guys on the program last year who had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome since then both of them have not needed their medication.”

(Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests.)

"They have gone back to their community and got involved with their education and different areas. Our plan is to expand the program and develop it further into a wider range of communities," Slabb said.

"Part of my role is to inspire and empower local youth in outback Australia, and to facilitate cultural learning between elders and the younger generation to rekindle a passion for traditional occupations." 

Part of the program takes place on the Yaru training facility situated in northern-NSW in the shadows of Wollumbin (Mt Warning), located in Bundjalung country. 

Slabb explained that participants explore Indigenous spirituality and indigenous Australian history (government and community perspectives), and take part in significant, compatible cultural experiences that give a deeper understanding of the richness of a living culture through intentional interaction with the land through cultural practice.

"The program is designed to teach them skill sets that increase their employability in fields such as droving, mustering and horsemanship. We presently have one group from the central desert that travel around on horseback in these very remote communities.  We have a couple of leaders out there working with them and other remote communities," Slabb said.

Living Water

Yaru Water is Australia's first Indigenous bottled water, and is introduced by a family of Bundjalung heritage.

For thousands of years, Slabb said, the Bundjalung people have understood the power and the energy of what flows from their land.

"We have recognised the water to have cleansing properties and to be a source of power and life for our people. We now understand that this life and this power are not meant for just our people, but that we need to share it with others. Our ancestors drank this living water, today we are sharing this precious water, for life, health and abundance to all who thirst."

Slabb said the foundation of the company is based upon a great respect for the land, and explained that the word Yaru means rock in Bundjalung language and encompasses all aspects of life.

"Therefore, from our very beginning, being environmentally responsible and sustainable has been a priority. Our products are certified carbon neutral which means we remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as our company puts in, cancelling out all emissions created during the lifecycle of a bottle of Yaru Water. We do this by purchasing 'carbon offsets' which finances green energy projects like wind farms or solar parks and drives further investment into clean technologies. Buying carbon offsets not only cancels out our carbon footprint, but it helps transform society to become more green and efficient. It helps make clean energy more affordable and helps reduce future greenhouse gas emissions to make up for our energy use today," he said.

BFA Approved

As Slabb points out, not all bottled water is created equal.

"There are some bottled waters that are exclusively sourced from municipality water, while various others are sourced from a variety of springs, mixed and bottled at a bottling plant far away from the source, at times combined with municipality water. What these waters have in common is an assortment of chemicals added during the bottling and sterilisation process and a close likeness to tap water.

"However, Yaru Water is single-origin spring water, bottled at the source, without the use of chemicals. "This is why Yaru Water has been approved by the Australian Biological Farmers Association (BFA), Australia's leading organics industry body. This classification means we are compliant with the Australian Organic Standard (AOS) and our source and bottling process are guaranteed free from chemical contaminants. It ensures that the water you drink is of the highest possible quality, in its natural state, alkaline and high in minerals. It guarantees our water is kind to you and our natural world.

"Remember, you are not just what you eat; you are what you drink," Slabb said.

Where to Get Yaru Water

Leading supermarket chain Coles now stocks Yaru Water in many of its stores, and is supporting Yaru Water with its production, distribution and packaging.

In early February 2013, Yaru products were rolled out across 160 stores in NSW and following a positive response, Coles has now committed to stocking the product range in further stores across Ausstraila, and through Coles online. Weekly production capacity was around 84,000 bottles, however with Coles support Yaru Water now plans to carry out a three-phase expansion to increase production by ten-fold by 2015.

The first phase will involve the construction of a second production facility and is expected to increase production to 880,000 bottles per week. The second facility will feature more efficient processing methods and environmentally-sustainable initiatives.

As well, Blackwoods is conducting a program to introduce Yaru Water to key customers and the community as part of its support for Indigenous organisations.

For more information on Yaru Water go to www.yaruwater.com

Back to top

Blackwoods major sponsor for Hunter Coal Festival

Blackwoods major sponsor for Hunter Coal Festival

Blackwoods are proud to be the major sponsor for the Hunter Coal Festival

Singleton, NSW, March 3, 2015: As a significant supplier to Australia’s industrial landscape, Blackwoods has signed up as the major sponsor of the Hunter Coal Festival 2015, and will be the largest exhibitor at the Hunter Mining Show.

“Blackwoods has been active in the Hunter Valley for over 90 years, and with our branches in both Singleton and Newcastle, part of an extensive branch footprint, we are proud to be the major sponsor for this event” said Blackwoods’ Richard Jemison, General Manager Marketing

“Since 1878, we have been a major contributor to the nation’s mining industry, supplying a wide range of industrial and workplace tools and products.

“Ever since, Blackwoods has been expanding its range of products and services, and improving our ability to supply customers here and abroad, not only with the right parts for the job but with solutions to save our customers time and money.”

Mr Jemison said the strong community focus of the Hunter Coal Festival was a major element in the company’s decision to come on board as major sponsor.

“A key focus for us is in helping build communities, through our support for those industries that contribute towards the prosperity and success of Australia’s mining regions; Australians depend on Blackwoods to keep them safe and supplied,” he said.

“The approach of the Festival is all about engagement with local communities in the Hunter region – bringing them together with the mining industry and its suppliers to foster relationships and build awareness of the very positive contribution of mining.”

At the Hunter Mining Show, Blackwoods has taken over the entire Singleton Civic Centre, which has been rebadged as the Blackwoods Pavilion. It will feature around 20 Blackwoods suppliers across a wide range of industrial and safety products.

Featured brands include 3M, Bailey, Cigweld, Coregas, CRC, Flexovit, Galmet, JBS Tools, King Gee, Leatherman, LED Lenser, Lincoln Electric, Mayo Hardware, Nitto, Pferd, Prosafe, Shell, Sidchrome, Workhorse and Yakka.

“In terms of our participation in the Hunter Mining Show, we are delighted to see the strong focus on workplace health and safety, with a full program of health and safety presentations over the three days in the Blackwoods Pavilion,” said Mr Jemison.

“A significant part of our offering is safety, workwear and PPE, but for Blackwoods, safety goes above and beyond our traditional industrial products.

“We do a lot of work with our suppliers to ensure that we only supply products that meet or exceed industry and regulatory safety and environmental standards.

“Whether it’s our PPE equipment, our range of Bailey ladders or power tools from DeWalt, workplace health and safety is inbuilt into all our products.”

Visit market-leading brands and more in the Blackwoods Pavilion at the Hunter Mining Show at the Singleton Civic Centre from March 12-14.

Back to top

Customer Service

For general or product enquiries call our Customer Service Centre on 13 73 23

For website I.T support call 1800 750 588