CommScope > Case Studies > Enhancing Safety and Communication in Tunnel Construction with IoT: Ausgrid’s CityGrid Project

Enhancing Safety and Communication in Tunnel Construction with IoT: Ausgrid’s CityGrid Project

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 Enhancing Safety and Communication in Tunnel Construction with IoT: Ausgrid’s CityGrid Project - IoT ONE Case Study
Technology Category
  • Networks & Connectivity - Radio Access Network
  • Networks & Connectivity - RFID
Applicable Industries
  • Electrical Grids
  • Telecommunications
Applicable Functions
  • Human Resources
  • Maintenance
Use Cases
  • Onsite Human Safety Management
  • Personnel Tracking & Monitoring
The Challenge
Ausgrid, Australia’s largest public utility, embarked on an ambitious $800 million upgrade project, codenamed CityGrid, aimed at supplying sufficient power to Sydney’s central business district through 2024 and injecting extra backup capabilities into the power grid for optimal future reliability. The project involved constructing up to four new interconnected substations, replacing and upgrading key high-voltage cables, and adding a new 8-kilometer City East tunnel. During the construction process, teams were working up to 55 meters below the surface, and maintaining open communication between the maintenance staff and teams working deeper within the tunnel was a challenge. Ausgrid used a simplex radio channel via the New South Wales Government Radio Network (NSWGRN) for this purpose, but this method had major drawbacks and limitations. It drew maintenance staff away from their daily monitoring and repair duties, forcing them to rely on land lines, escorts, and face-to-face meetings to connect with tunnel construction teams.
The Customer
About The Customer
Ausgrid is Australia’s largest public utility, supplying electrical power to 1.6 million homes and businesses in and around Sydney’s central business district. In 2010, the electrical provider began an ambitious $800 million upgrade project codenamed CityGrid. The project’s twin goals are to supply sufficient power to the Sydney CBD through 2024 and to inject extra backup capabilities into the power grid for optimal future reliability. The project consists of constructing up to four new interconnected substations, replacing and upgrading key high-voltage cables, and adding a new 8-kilometer City East tunnel linking existing City West and City South tunnels to form a comprehensive electricity supply ring around the business district.
The Solution
To overcome the communication challenge, Ausgrid turned to CommScope’s Distributed Coverage and Capacity Solutions (DCCS) team. The DCCS team recommended additional coverage supplied by the ION-M intelligent optical network—a radio-over-fiber, wide-band, technology-agnostic repeater platform. The platform re-broadcasts NSWGRN signals from dedicated base stations located at two of Ausgrid’s substations. ION-M also enables Wi-Fi access within the tunnel, offering Ausgrid an entirely new suite of communication and efficiency opportunities. In addition to ION-M, Ausgrid also chose RADIAX cables to ensure reliable communications deep underground. These cables function as a continuous distributed antenna, designed specifically to solve wireless communication problems in confined areas like tunnels, where multiple services are often blocked by radio frequency obstructions.
Operational Impact
  • The implementation of the ION-M across the new tunnel eliminated the problem of radio silence between topside, maintenance, and tunnel teams. Workers now use a two-way radio and can access the tunnel without an escort, freeing up personnel for other tasks. The teams were no longer tethered to land lines, enabling them to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, which improved overall project deployment speed and productivity while reducing expenses. Tasks were dispatched from Ausgrid’s local project headquarters in Regent’s Park to field staff in seconds, not hours, eliminating the need for periodic land-line status calls or less frequent face-to-face surface returns. The technology also offers potential for further applications beyond the tunnel.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Reduced the size of teams required to man tunnel exits and escort workers from three or four to typically one or two people, cutting costs by roughly half.
  • Improved overall project deployment speed and productivity by enabling teams to complete multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Reduced waiting time for task dispatch from hours to seconds.

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