Ampcontrol develops hybrid diesel-electric boat together with project partners

While hybrid cars are now commonplace on our roads, the development of hybrid boats has been lagging – until now.

A collaborative partnership between Ampcontrol, The University of Newcastle and Steber International has conducted a series of highly successful bench and on-water trials of a hybrid diesel-electric boat prototype.

This week, the 22ft test rig was officially launched on the Manning River in Taree NSW. Made possible through the support of the Federal Government AusIndustry Innovation Connection grants, the hybrid diesel-electric boat project has been in development for two years.

Onboard the test rig, Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO, Rod Henderson said it was great to get out on the water after extensive research and development and electric power system testing.

“The experience and on-water performance are impressive; there is no vibration; it’s quiet and has excellent torque and speed. It’s great to see another innovative power supply solution designed by the people of Ampcontrol put into practice,” added Mr Henderson.

Initial trials with one person on board attained 20 knots and with seven people on board the speed was 18 knots. With 9.5kVA gen-set installed and carrying a full complement of equipment and crew, a rate of 15 knots was achieved.

Steber International General Manager, Alan Steber said the exciting project has unlimited potential across the entire marine landscape.

“Potential applications include marine park boats, police boats, recreational and leisure boats, harbour foreshore inspection boats, tourist boats, yacht club tenders, security vessels, to name a few. Working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), we will establish the additional protocols required for commercial vessel registration and use,” added Mr Steber.

Leaders in Australian boat manufacturing and industrial composite technology, Steber International approached Ampcontrol in 2018 requesting assistance to develop a prototype hybrid police boat. Ampcontrol’s leading technology and engineering expertise was applied to leverage the silence of the electric power system to enable a whisper-quiet mode for operations requiring some stealth. The diesel generator design by Ampcontrol provides power support when needed to ensure its operating range is not compromised.

The hybrid diesel/electric propulsion system allows a boat to be power efficient, quiet and be significantly more emission friendly without suffering any loss of cruising range. The application of batteries and an electric motor facilitates a reduction in the size of the diesel engines required, while maintaining the same, or higher, power ratings for the vessel.

“Ampcontrol and the University of Newcastle have added their considerable skills making this a genuinely collaborative effort on all levels. Ampcontrol delivers integrated electrical and electronic solutions, responding to challenges with agility and ingenuity. The University of Newcastle has provided research input right down to the granular level and testing facilities, helping to ensure the project meets the latest Australian safety standards,” commented Mr Steber.

“This project showcases the incredible work that is enabled by university, industry and government partnerships. We have such highly advanced manufacturing capability and ingenuity in our country. It is so important that we collaborate so that we can continue to produce innovative solutions and products here in Australia that make a difference in people’s lives around the globe,” concluded Mr Henderson.

Christmas and New Year

Ampcontrol has you covered this festive season. Some of our business units are taking a short break, however our 24/7 customer service will continue to operate across Christmas and New Year via customerservice@ampcontrolgroup.com and 1300 267 373.

For individual site closure dates, please click here.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Stay safe and enjoy.

Re-thinking Traditional Fixed Infrastructure

Traditionally, the construction of permanent electrical infrastructure has been thought of as just that, permanent. It’s constructed using time consuming and site labour intensive bricks and mortar construction techniques. But does it need to be? What if fixed infrastructure was in fact relocatable? What benefits would this bring to infrastructure projects?

Typical Applications

Surface and underground mines typically employ relocatable power equipment. They do so to accommodate the dynamic nature of a mine site, where the electrical system must move, regularly extended and be rapidly deployed as mining progresses. This equipment is invariably relocatable, compact and relatively high voltage. In addition, it’s designed for transport with minimal disassembly and reassembly with an aim to streamline site works.

Mining substation

A typical relocatable substation used in above ground mining applications 

Non-Typical Applications

We’ve seen this type of relocatable and rapidly deployable power equipment becoming used in a range of non-typical applications. At Australia’s two largest solar farms in Broken Hill and Nyngan, Ampcontrol completed 117 identical power conversion skids housing control panels, inverters and transformers.

Using the rapidly deployable model these electrical skids were fully manufactured and assembled at Ampcontrol’s workshops before being transferred to site as complete units. This resulted in significantly simplified onsite works and ensured the skids could be delivered at a rate of four per week.

Modular electrical equipmentPower conversion skids being manufactured in Ampcontrol’s workshops

Power conversion skids

Power conversion skids installed at the solar farms 

Due to the dynamic nature of their environment, the tunnelling industry is familiar with rapidly deployable power equipment during the construction phase. It is not however typically used for permanent electrical infrastructure within tunnels post construction.

Westconnex, Australia’s largest infrastructure project, recently implemented this rapidly deployable style of infrastructure for their 46 Electrical Equipment Rooms (EERs). The EERs all included a transformer, switches, circuits and communication systems but were all individual in design, dependent on location and requirements.

These EERs were manufactured in Ampcontrol’s Tomago NSW workshops before being transported to the Sydney tunnelling site at a rate of two rooms per week.

Westconnex was the first tunnelling project in Australia where EERs were manufactured offsite and installed directly into the tunnel, compared to the traditional method of building them in-situ. This approach resulted in significantly reduced and simplified civil works, and faster installation with fewer people underground.

relocatable power infrastructure Power infrastructure tunnellingEERs being delivered and installed in the Westconnex tunnels

The Benefits

Manufacturing in a dedicated workshop enables many variables to be easily controlled, ensuring a safer, better cost controlled and time managed build.

Safety improvements

  • Minimal staff required for underground siteworks, installation and commissioning
  • Construction managed offsite in a controlled environment where risks can be better managed

Cost control

  • Manufacturing efficiencies are gained through modularised repeated assemblies, designed specifically for a workshop environment

Time management

  • Fast install and commissioning
  • Manufacturing, transport, installation and commissioning can all happen simultaneously ensuring project construction continues unimpeded by siteworks

Rapidly deployable relocatable equipment for fixed applications is a viable option for a variety of industries and applications. Ampcontrol is expertly positioned and experienced in the design, manufacture, testing, installation and commissioning of this type of equipment across typical and non-typical applications.

Download a PDF copy of this article 

100 Australian Engineering Leaders Featuring Ampcontrol Co-Founder

This year Engineers Australia turns 100. In celebration they are showcasing Australian Engineering Leaders who “pushed boundaries, defied odds, and came up with innovations that no-one could have imagined 100 years ago”.

At Ampcontrol we’re proud our co-founder Peter Cockbain is featured in the Engineers Australia publication “Anything is Possible 100 Australian Engineering Leaders”. The book celebrates 100 Australian engineers past and present who have made a difference.

Peter is featured as a leader in manufacturing and strong champion of the Australian advanced manufacturing industry as well as one of the founders of the international business that is Ampcontrol. He’s in esteemed company, featured alongside engineering leaders such as Sir Peter Nicol Russell whom Australia’s highest recognition of individual engineering achievement is named and Sir Ernest Fisk who introduced Australians to the airwaves.

Peter joined Engineers Australia in 1966 and started volunteering around 50 years ago to return some of the benefits that Engineers Australia had given him. Peter’s voluntary contributions include National President of Engineers Australia in 2006, a member of the University of Newcastle Council, the Engineering Faculty Advisory Board and the University Student Services Board, a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, Senator Kim Carr’s Future Manufacturing Industry Innovation Council, a Director of Standards Australia and Chairman of the Standards Development Committee. In 2015, he received a Member of the Order of Australia honour for his significant contribution to the mining and energy sectors and professional organisations. Find out more about Peter’s voluntary roles.

Congratulations to Peter and all of the 100 Australian engineers past and present, who have the honour of being included in this publication.

Let’s get flexible – how plug and play cables could be the secret to securing mining communications

In a world of deeper mines, rising energy costs and infrastructure shortages, mining companies remain under exceptional pressure to control costs, heighten efficiency and improve safety performance. Although there is no single easy solution, it is becoming increasingly apparent that technology will play a growing role in the mining industry of the future.

As the fourth industrial revolution progresses, data connectivity is taking a more pivotal role – information from sensors, data-heavy automation solutions and data analytics must be conveyed across large distances and through challenging environments. The mining industry is deploying automation technologies at a rapid rate, meaning the demand for flexible and high-bandwidth communication is soaring.

Fiber optic networks are a critical enabler of this bandwidth, providing a bridge between devices, data processing units and control systems which are increasingly being adopted across many sectors. With fiber optics come additional benefits including immunity to electromagnetic fields, galvanic insulation and future-proof advantages with regards to bandwidth extension. But mining environments pose a risk for the physical integrity of these networks.

With mines reliant on their communications infrastructure for essential safety systems and the critical link between operations underground and those working on the surface, network failure is not an option. So how can mining companies ensure high-performance, quality, reliable and long-life solutions that enable seamless underground communication networks?

 

Rapid and easy to deploy 

In mining, production depends on full and continuous availability of the network to ensure reliable communication with sensors, between machines and workers. Any damage to a mine’s fiber optic network, therefore, translates into significant expense and potential safety hazards. Hitherto, fixing damage was time-consuming and dependent on the arrival of a qualified fiber optic technician with suitable and calibrated termination tools and components.

Today, while network failure and damage cannot be avoided altogether, mining companies are able to massively reduce downtime as a result of network outages. This is due to a new solution created jointly by HUBER+SUHNER and Ampcontrol to enable rapid deployment of fiber optic networks in mines.

Leveraging the extensive experience of HUBER+SUHNER in providing solutions for optical connectivity in harsh environment conditions and Ampcontrol’s renowned expertise in providing integrated electrical and electronic equipment and power solutions for mines in Australia and elsewhere, the harsh environment reticulated fiber optic solution – H3RO – enables fast deployment of fiber optic networks in mines. The solution is based on standardised components that can be combined in a tool-box like manner. The solution’s modularity implies it is flexible in design, allowing for dynamic and easy modification and expansion of network architectures. This is critical in mines, where the network topology changes continuously as the mine grows/moves along. Also, because mine workers are frequently unskilled in communication technologies, simplicity of use and robustness against mishandling is essential.

Putting the theory into practice

The benefits brought by solutions of the two companies have been experienced by many mining customers, one reference case being an underground gold and copper mine in Western NSW, Australia when an existing communications cable was severed.

H3RO was deployed from an existing FOBOT (fiber optic break-out terminal) panel for a distance over 1 km along the roof, through a number of vertical drops and into another existing FOBOT enclosure. The solution’s plug and play cables and modular components made it the ideal choice for the fast deployment of cabling for this work. The IP68 connectors and bulkheads allowed a neat, maintainable solution that integrated seamlessly with off-the-shelf IP68 bulkheads and pigtails to match the existing patch panels.

Due to the modular installation and low-loss connectors, network expansion and recovery from similar incidents in the future is now hassle-free. The entire cable run consists of a quantity of four 260 m 12-core H3RO cables, making swapping any section out easy, rather than replacing the entire run or requiring expensive and time-consuming fiber field splicing in the mine’s harsh environment. The H3RO cables allow the addition of break out terminals (BOTs) at any cable joint allowing standardised and flexible network access/extension as requirements evolve.

H3RO components are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities, all items are tested and shipped with quality reports. This offers a more cost effective, reliable and risk-free solution to field splicing in an underground mine where constraints such as time, darkness and the dirty working environment all affect the quality of the job.

Find out more about H3RO 

Replacement Transformers On The Road To Western Australia

During the latter part of 2018, Ampcontrol was approached to supply a range of drop-in replacement transformers as part of a major upgrade of an iron ore mine in Western Australia.

This mine was looking to source reliable and robust equipment that was proven under onerous site conditions, including various levels of harmonics, ensuring continuity of supply and maximum product lifespan. Ampcontrol’s proven transformer designs and manufacturing credentials made us the ideal supplier.

In 2019 Ampcontrol delivered 20 transformers to the project ranging from 1000kVA 33kV to 10,000kVA 33kV all designed to suit existing mounting positions and cable connections within 5mm tolerances.

Production has been staggered to minimise site shutdown requirements and will be ongoing into 2020 when another 31 transformers will be manufactured, as well as routine and type testing to AS/NZS 60076, in our Tomago NSW transformer facility.

Fan’stash’tic effort by Movember Fundraisers

Throughout the month of November the Ampcontrol ‘Stash of the Titans Movember network raised a whopping $12,811 to help address health issues facing men including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide.

Our community fundraisers pulled out all the stops including everything from raffles to bake sales, while growing mo’s or racking up the kilometres all to support men’s health during Movember.

At Ampcontrol we’re proud to encourage and support our team members who get involved in local community fundraising initiatives, this year we’ve supported the Mark Hughes Foundation, Camp Quality esCARpade and Movember just to name a few.

We provide our people with opportunities to be the best they can – because we know that we are stronger together.

If you’d like to join the Ampcontrol team, there’s currently a range of professional and technical roles available on our careers page.

Another accolade for Ampcontrol’s rising star

Ampcontrol employee, Joshua Nott has been named Engineering Fabrication Trade Apprentice of the Year and Stan Rippon Perpetual Award winner at the 2017 Hunter Region Apprentice and Trainee Awards (HRATA).

Joshua is no stranger to accolades for his hard work. In the last 12 months, Josh won the Central Coast and Hunter TAFE Excellence Award for Fabrication, Ampcontrol’s Apprentice of the Year and a bronze medal in the 2016 National World Skills Challenge held in Melbourne.

Ampcontrol CEO and Managing Director Rod Henderson said, “It is wonderful to see Joshua’s hard work and dedication recognised by the training community. Having started my own career as an apprentice, and employed many apprentices over the course of my career, I can say that Joshua exemplifies the value of apprenticeships, becoming a valuable member of our fabrication team and an asset to Ampcontrol.”

Joshua is employed full time in Ampcontrol’s fabrication team at Tomago where he fabricates a range of customised specialist electrical enclosures, switchrooms, transformer tanks and skids.

Completing his Certificate III in Engineering Fabrication through TAFE NSW in 2016 Joshua has since completed a certificate IV in Engineering and is currently completing a Diploma in Engineering.  Josh now moves onto the NSW state awards.

Celebrating 50 years in 2018, Ampcontrol is proud to have been a part of the career journey of hundreds of Hunter locals like Joshua.

Looking to take the next step? See what current opportunities we have available.