As critical gateways for Queensland, ports facilitate trade and enable economic growth, which adds to state and national prosperity.
Hay Point Coal Terminal is one of the most efficient and largest metallurgical coal export terminals in the world, and a previous expansion in partnership with Aurecon cemented the facility’s reputation for sophisticated resources management.
Aurecon is continuing its partnership with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) by providing study phase support services and associated engineering design expertise for an upgrade to Hay Point Terminal’s Berth 2.
Aurecon’s expertise in port infrastructure is helping ensure Berth 2’s operational resilience to withstand significant weather events and improve its throughput capacity, through delivery of the Shiploader and Berth Replacement project.
Berth 2 is unique: the only offshore exposed concrete gravity caisson structure in Australia. As a valuable component of the operation at the Hay Point Terminal, its nearly 50-year-old topside structure is to be upgraded via an approach adopted to minimise disruption to operations.
Aurecon’s engineering team will design a new shiploader to operate on Berth 2, as well as upgrading the berth, with a focus on reducing environmental impacts and improving the facility’s severe weather rating and capacity, consistent with Berth 3 and associated infrastructure that was commissioned in 2015.
In the marine sphere, resilience is about dealing with uncertainty and being adaptive to change. In the study phases, Aurecon recognised the value of undertaking physical model testing at as large a scale as practical, identifying the National Research Council facilities in Canada as one of only two facilities in the world able to accommodate the preferred testing requirements.
The model testing assessed wave crest levels that could be experienced at Berth 2 and conducted scale model measurements of forces on the caisson structures.
Modelling outputs confirmed that a deck and shiploader rail level increase of approximately 4.5 metres would enable the berth to better withstand future cyclonic weather events, and provided valuable data enabling engineering design of modifications to the existing caisson structures.
The upgrade of Berth 2 is planned and designed to minimise disruption to ongoing operations from shutdown and tie-in works. Engineering designs have already been optimised with the development of an initial reference design, followed by an Early Contractor Involvement model with a focus on constructability, cost and schedule implications before committing to final detailed design.
Aurecon Major Project Director Steve Buchanan has said that the innovative approach is about bringing together an integrated understanding of engineering design, port operations and construction expertise. He believes that this allows the project team to find the most effective approach to meet the client needs.
By keeping within the existing offshore lease boundary footprint and avoiding the need for dredging of the berth pocket, overall environmental outcomes will be further improved for the Terminal.
Aurecon’s innovative design based on reusing the caisson structures, allows for additional ballast mass and structural connections to be incorporated at the tops of the existing caisson columns, modifying and improving their structural behaviour. This will make future operations and maintenance easier for BMA, as their teams will be able to inspect and maintain the key structural elements from above the tidal levels.
In addition, new modular steel jacket structures are to be installed at each end of the existing berth to extend shiploader travel by more than 40 metres without extending the existing berth pocket. This outcome will also mean that larger vessels will only need to be positioned once at the berth, rather than shifting multiple times during a loading operation, which is an important safety consideration for port operations.
Digital analysis and modelling techniques allow the design of modern structures to consider complex geometries and manage the interfaces between static and mobile structures (such as the shiploader traversing and operating on the berth).
These technologies also provide a powerful platform for operators to understand and experience a new working environment. Aurecon is using virtual reality to inform and implement safety improvements such as the repositioning of the operators control cabin off the boom of the shiploader.
A digital engineering approach will also be used to capture and store asset information on materials and structures in alignment with the new ISO 19650-1:2018 and 19650-2:2018, the international standards for managing information over the delivery phase of a built asset.
The environment in which these assets operate necessitates ongoing maintenance requirements, so by developing a fully-integrated platform and data-rich models which house key specification, performance, maintenance and asset data, BMA will be able to plan and implement maintenance and achieve operational efficiencies over the next 50 years.
On traditional projects, the team would regularly send copies of paper reports and drawings to the client for review. On Hay Point Berth 2, the project team took the initiative to build a web-based portal to publish project controls data and provide the client with access to the digital models, to convey designs as models are progressed.
BMA can navigate through the digital model to see how the designs are progressing, responding to design enquires and highlighting any concerns early.
Holding a complete model with asset tag information allows BMA, as the terminal operator, to have an in-depth understanding of the facility and form a flexible environment to allow Berth 2 to be adapted in the future.
There’s no one-size-fits-all with port facility upgrades. At Hay Point Terminal, Aurecon’s bespoke technical solutions are transforming Berth 2 into a resilient structure that will be adaptable in the future to changing technology, processes and the surrounding marine environment, while also catering for metallurgical coal export supply and demand as a necessary ingredient for global steelmaking.