In the right hands with Liberty Industrial
What goes up must come down. No one understands that better than Liberty Industrial.
Founded in 2008, Liberty Industrial is a leading demolition firm based in New South Wales, Australia, specializing in industrial deconstruction contracting and consulting services. As a major provider of deconstruction, remediation and civil works, the Australian-based company has received international acclaim for completing some of the largest and most technically complex demolition projects in the southern hemisphere to date.
Liberty Industrial offers a broad range of integrated capabilities through consultancy and contracting services. The company provides decommissioning and hazardous materials removal, dismantling and demolition, land remediation, site rehabilitation and site preparation services, as well as industrial demolition and closure consulting and engineering services.
“We typically undertake very large, complex demolition projects,” said Clinton Dick, Director of Liberty Industrial. “We handle a lot of mining assets and removal, oil refineries, and large power stations. Recently, we’ve been transiting into civil and remediation.”
According to Dick, Liberty acquired a civil company in 2014 and has since been transitioning the business into a remediation company, offering a diverse range of services that include: contaminated and hazardous waste remediation, soil stabilization and solidification, bio-remediation, bulk excavation, detailed excavation, and offsite disposal of materials.
Liberty Industrial is one of the few demolition companies to obtain SAI Global Certificate for Occupational Health & Safety Management System (AS/NZS 4801:2001), Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2004) and Quality Management System (ISO 9001:2008).
“We have the right environmental and accredited people on board and we’re starting to see some great results from the work we’re generating,” said Dick. “Australia is the mecca of the mining industry and we’re getting a lot of closure projects for demolition and remediation work here.”
“It’s something we wanted to offer our clients,” said Dick. “We want to be a one-stop-shop.”
Because Liberty handles some of the largest and most challenging projects Australia has to offer, client expectations and concerns are at an all-time high. The Australian firm has built a solid reputation for exceeding expectations by delivering safe, effective results on time and on budget.
The company does this through state-of-the-art 3D structural modeling and analysis technology under its partnership with Applied Science International (ASI).
“The software allows us to put together a visual of the structure and showcase our capabilities to the client,” said Dick. “Other competitors don’t have that ability. It’s a terrific tool and helps set us apart from our competitors.”
ASI’s Applied Element Method (AEM), coupled with Extreme Loading for Structures (ELS), is the world’s first tool to accurately analyze and simulate ‘real-time’ structural collapse from the point of loading through cracking, element separation, and total collapse.
The unique simulation technology allows Liberty to model a structure and then run and test several different plans and 'what-if' scenarios. The software gives them the ability to visually demonstrate what will happen in any given scenario to the client.
“These structures are massive and often weigh around 20,000 tons and stand at 100 meters tall. It’s not easy to just make them collapse and have them to go where you want,” explained Dick. “So the tool allows us to show the client how we’ll handle the project.”
“We’re able to undertake workshops with clients and show them what we’ve done in the past,” Dick added.
The software also enhances Liberty’s commitment to safety. The ASI Australia 3D modeling is utilized to simulate falling structure thereby reducing the project risks by simulating the activity before actual execution.
Projects and awards
Liberty Industrial’s impressive portfolio of completed projects needs no introduction as their latest and most extensive work includes:
Boodarie HBI Facility
From May 2011 till May 2012, Liberty Industrial commenced the deconstruction work on the Boodarie project in the Pilbara region of Western Australian. The project, which was commissioned by BHP Billiton – the world’s largest mining company – required the demolition of a briquetting structure, a reactor structure and a gas plant. The project presented a unique challenge for the company as the removal of the reactor – measuring 104 meters high – represented the largest demolition project undertaken in the southern hemisphere in 15 years. With skill and grace, Liberty Industrial completed the projects in just 12 months.
Another award-winning project by Liberty Industrial includes the dismantling and relocation of Rio Tinto’s High Intensity Smelting (HIsmelt) facility in Kwinana, Western Australia. The project was the first of its kind involving the complex dismantling of significant components of industrial plant, which had never been attempted in Australia.
According to the company, more than 7,000 tons of industrial plant and equipment including four bulk shipments of over 18,000 cubic meters and 300 shipping containers of plant and equipment were salvaged and shipped 7,600 kilometers away to Shandong Province in China. Over 2,000 bulk units were methodically dismantled, cleaned to export standard, match marked, labeled, recorded and packed, with each item given clear instructions on how to be reassembled in China.
In 2014, Liberty Industrial was commissioned by the Department of Defence for the deconstruction of the historic Hammerhead Crane in Woolloomooloo, NSW. Along with the removal of the structure, the project had a substantial salvage component for the preservation of numerous historically significant components of the crane.
“With the preservation of some of Australia’s richest and rarest industrial and maritime heritage, the project showcases Liberty Industrial’s dismantling and salvage capabilities, reinforcing our position in the industry as deconstruction specialists,” said Dick.
Shell Clyde Refinery
Liberty Industrial is currently underway with the demolition and removal of the former Shell Clyde Refinery in New South Wales. The 18-month project was commissioned by Viva Energy Australia and part of the Clyde Terminal Conversion Project.
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“The project entails the removal of the refinery as well as a redevelopment project, including a remediation process, to convert the refinery site into a fuel import terminal facility,” said Dick.
According to Dick, planning and preparations for the project are under way for future and a controlled explosive demolition is scheduled for early 2016. The culmination will see five chimney stacks demolished concurrently through the controlled use of explosives.
Liberty Industrial continues to be a force to be reckoned with and it shows in the accolades they receive.
“Last year was a big year for us. We won the World Industrial Demolition and the overall 2014 World Demolition Award for the HISmelt project, which was one of the largest jobs in the country. It was an extremely large demolition and the remediation was enormous at 100,000 cubic meters.”
This year, the company was a finalist in two categories – Contractor of the Year, and Explosive Contractor of the Year – for the 2015 World Demolition Award for their Omega Tower Demolition and Hammerhead Crane Deconstruction Project. The company took home the Explosive Award for their demolition work of the Omega Transmission Tower, which is reserved for unusually complex or demanding demolitions involving the use of controlled explosives.
“We're extremely excited to win this award,” said Dick. “It really showcases Liberty's diversity and skill set within the demolition industry.” For Liberty, the recent awards only confirm what hard work, dedication and strong teamwork can achieve.
Why Transmission & Distribution Utilities Need Digital Twins
As with any new technology, Digital twins can create as many questions as answers. There can be a natural resistance, especially among senior utility executives who are used to the old ways and need a compelling case to invest in new ones.
So is digital twin just a fancy name for modelling? And why do many senior leaders and engineers at power transmission & distribution (T&D) companies have a gnawing feeling they should have one? Ultimately it comes down to one key question: is this a trend worth our time and money?
The short answer is yes, if approached intelligently and accounting for utilities’ specific needs. This is no case of runaway hype or an overwrought name for an underwhelming development – digital twin technology can be genuinely transformational if done right. So here are six reasons why in five years no T&D utility will want to be without a digital twin.
1. Smarter Asset Planning
A digital twin is a real-time digital counterpart of a utility’s real-world grid. A proper digital twin – and not just a static 3D model of some adjacent assets – represents the grid in as much detail as possible, is updated in real-time and can be used to model ‘what if’ scenarios to gauge the effects in real life. It is the repository in which to collect and index all network data, from images, to 3D pointclouds, to past reports and analyses.
With that in mind, an obvious use-case for a digital twin is planning upgrades and expansions. For example, if a developer wants to connect a major solar generation asset, what effect might that have on the grid assets, and will they need upgrading or reinforcement? A seasoned engineer can offer an educated prediction if they are familiar with the local assets, their age and their condition – but with a digital twin they can simply model the scenario on the digital twin and find out.
The decision is more likely to be the right one, the utility is less likely to be blindsided by unforeseen complications, and less time and money need be spent visiting the site and validating information.
As the energy transition accelerates, both transmission and distribution (T&D) utilities will receive more connection requests for anything from solar parks to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to heat pumps and batteries – and all this on top of normal grid upgrade programs. A well-constructed digital twin may come to be an essential tool to keep up with the pace of change.
2. Improved Inspection and Maintenance
Utilities spend enormous amounts of time and money on asset inspection and maintenance – they have to in order to meet their operational and safety responsibilities. In order to make the task more manageable, most utilities try to prioritise the most critical or fragile parts of the network for inspection, based on past inspection data and engineers’ experience. Many are investigating how to better collect, store and analyze data in order to hone this process, with the ultimate goal of predicting where inspections and maintenance are going to be needed before problems arise.
The digital twin is the platform that contextualises this information. Data is tagged to assets in the model, analytics and AI algorithms are applied and suggested interventions are automatically flagged to the human user, who can understand what and where the problem is thanks to the twin. As new data is collected over time, the process only becomes more effective.
3. More Efficient Vegetation Management
Utilities – especially transmission utilities in areas of high wildfire-risk – are in a constant struggle with nature to keep vegetation in-check that surrounds power lines and other assets. Failure risks outages, damage to assets and even a fire threat. A comprehensive digital twin won’t just incorporate the grid assets – a network of powerlines and pylons isolated on an otherwise blank screen – but the immediate surroundings too. This means local houses, roads, waterways and trees.
If the twin is enriched with vegetation data on factors such as the species, growth rate and health of a tree, then the utility can use it to assess the risk from any given twig or branch neighbouring one of its assets, and prioritise and dispatch vegetation management crews accordingly.
And with expansion planning, inspection and maintenance, the value here is less labor-intensive and more cost-effective decision making and planning – essential in an industry of tight margins and constrained resources. What’s more, the value only rises over time as feedback allows the utility to finesse the program.
4. Automated powerline inspection
Remember though, that to be maximally useful, a digital twin must be kept up to date. A larger utility might blanche at the resources required to not just to map and inspect the network once in order to build the twin, but update that twin at regular intervals.
However, digital twins are also an enabling technology for another technological step-change – automated powerline inspection.
Imagine a fleet of sensor-equipped drones empowered to fly the lines almost constantly, returning (automatically) only to recharge their batteries. Not only would such a set-up be far cheaper to operate than a comparable fleet of human inspectors, it could provide far more detail at far more regular intervals, facilitating all the above benefits of better planning, inspection, maintenance and vegetation management. Human inspectors could be reserved for non-routine interventions that really require their hard-earned expertise.
In this scenario, the digital twin provides he ‘map’ by which the drone can plan a route and navigate itself, in conjunction with its sensors.
5. Improved Emergency Modelling and Faster Response
If the worst happens and emergency strikes, such as a wildfire or natural disaster, digital twins can again prove invaluable. The intricate, detailed understanding of the grid, assets and its surroundings that a digital twin gives is an element of order in a chaotic situation, and can guide the utility and emergency services alike in mounting an informed response.
And once again, the digital twin’s facility for ‘what-if’ scenario testing is especially useful for emergency preparedness. If a hurricane strikes at point X, what will be the effect on assets at point Y? If a downed pylon sparks a fire at point A, what residences are nearby and what does an evacuation plan look like?
6. Easier accommodation of external stakeholders
Finally, a digital twin can make lighter work of engaging with external stakeholders. The world doesn’t stand still, and a once blissfully-isolated powerline may suddenly find itself adjacent to a building site for a new building or road.
As well as planning for connection (see point 1), a digital twin takes the pain out of those processes that require interfacing with external stakeholders, such as maintenance contractors, arborists, trimming crews or local government agencies – the digital twin breaks down the silos between these groups and allows them to work from a single version of the truth – in future it could even be used as part of the bid process for contractors.
These six reasons for why digital twins will be indispensable to power T&D utilities are only the tip of the iceberg; the possibilities are endless given the constant advancement of data collection an analysis technology. No doubt these will invite even more questions – and we relish the challenge of answering them.