Located in the NSW Riverina almost equidistant to Sydney and Melbourne, Leeton is the second largest regional centre in the region outside of Griffith and plays an integral role in food production, value-added agricultural processing, education and research and transport for the state of NSW and throughout Australia.
Leeton is the birth place of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and was a purpose-built town designed to serve as a hub for the Irrigation Scheme which was launched immediately after the First World War. The Shire covers 1,167 square kilometres and includes the towns of Leeton, Yanco and Whitton and the villages of Murrami and Wamoon.
In 2016 there was a significant change in key personnel in the Engineering Team at Leeton Shire Council. Within a short period of time, the department manager, engineer and works superintendent all left the organisation which ultimately resulted in a comprehensive review of all existing systems.
The review resulted in a number of key findings:
The Engineering Department decided that it must make changes to ensure a reliable and cost-effective supply of water to local homes, business, government bodies and service providers. They distributed an ‘Expression of Interest’ document that covered the scope of works for a solution to bring the water and water management system up to the required standard.
“We received 16 submissions but the standout proposal was from the I2R Group,” explains Kai Attree, Water & Waste Water Engineer at Leeton Shire Council.
“They had a clear roadmap for how the project would look and each element of the process was detailed thoroughly. They were the only business to undertake an audit on our pump station sites and other electrical infrastructure as part of their submission which proved how engaged they were from the very start.
“The level of detail and the innovative solution they presented was impressive but, more importantly, they really impressed us with the collaborative approach they took to the entire process of scoping, planning, fine-tuning and then implementing the solution. The fact that they happened to be close by in Griffith was a bonus.
The aim was to deliver a system that allowed the operators and maintenance staff to know exactly what was wrong with an asset before leaving the depot, reducing downtime and costly return trips.
I2R Group has delivered a solution that meets all of Leeton Shire Council’s needs. By upgrading the electrical switchboards, I2R delivered the latest technology with the following functionality:
“The core operating platform is essentially modular and completely scalable,” explains Mr Attree.
“We can add existing systems such as our weather station and sprinkler network to it as well as new systems that are being planned which include solar lighting and building security systems.
“This is a significant project and the roll-out will continue for another 12 months. We are completely replacing the old infrastructure at each site and feel it’s best to convert two or three sites each month to eliminate trip points and minimise any disruption to the network.”
To complement the technical aspects of the solution, I2R provided detailed budget forecasts and project managed the installation so that Leeton Shire Council could focus on day to day activities and the process of change management. To ensure this part of the project was successful, I2R and Leeton Shire Council conducted monthly project management meetings to keep track of timelines and cost elements.
The system is integrated across all water and waste water infrastructure and the first four pumping stations have been cut across to the new platform.
Using the old system, the Engineering team had to log-in to the back end using a cumbersome portal and then make a decision about a plan of action based on rudimentary and often dated information. It could be a simple fix but invariably it took some time to even correctly diagnose the potential issue.
Frequently a staff member would attend a site, often after hours and on weekends and often in a relatively remote location, to perform the most basic fix or reset or worse, discover it was a false alarm. Each call out was a costly and demoralising exercise.
The new system allows the Council Engineering staff to monitor and control the system from any web-enabled device. They are alerted to any issues or scheduled activities in real time and can take action from the screen, often fixing any problems with the touch of a button.
Attree explains that the difference between the old and the new systems are worlds apart.
“We have already seen our call-out rates drop because of the increased visibility and functionality and we’re really only getting started,” he said.
“The detailed reporting functionality gives us deep analysis of all core operations, allowing us to map potential pain points and plan for the future. Once we have a stronger data set and we can generate even more efficiencies we will really reap the rewards of this system but, even in its infancy, it’s obvious that this has changed everything.
“We have been reactive for many years but now we have the technology that allows us to not only catch up but get in front of potential issues. It’s a massive shift.
“The truly collaborative approach taken by I2R Group has also been impressive. They have incredibly tight and detailed project management plans and frequent, detailed communications especially regarding scheduling and completing work. They have been extremely easy to deal with at all levels of the organisation.”