Innovation Rocks!

9th of December 2014

Like many construction projects, some problems were faced during the construction of the latest section of the Redbank Plains Distributor Road (Mt Juillerat Drive) project between Cedar Road and School Road.

However, this problem was bigger than most other problems, with it being a precariously perched boulder, similar in size to a shipping container, exposed owing to the cut and fill operation for the new road. It was decided that the rock had to be broken up as it was too large and heavy to be move by conventional means.

Two possible solutions were initially proposed - enlisting the use of a large excavator, with a rock breaking attachment, or explosives. However, after consideration, the explosive method was not viable owing to the close proximity of existing residences with potential issues with noise, vibrations, cracking and the possible requirements for dilapidation inspection and reports. So…a Rock Breaker it was. Unfortunately, after two days of bashing and belting, and a noise complaint or two, the rock still had maintained its unbroken form. This was one hard rock...perhaps the rock's resilience should have been expected considering the close proximity to the Hardrock Quarry! So it was decided that the rock breaker was not going to cut the mustard nor break the rock.

So the another option had to be considered, hopefully this option would introduce the rock to its tombstone! The third and most innovative option was the use of chemicals to break the rock. The rock was drilled with a number of holes and had chemicals poured into the drill voids and left for a day to set. 24 hours later, the chemical had expanded in the voids and caused the rock to fracture, leaving only light work for an excavator with a ripping tine to finish the job.

In this instance, the chemical method was approximately 40% cheaper than the excavator rock breaker option, took significantly less time and resulted in zero noise complaints. This is just one example where an innovative solution was used and proved to be beneficial in many different facets. The benefits can be a gain in productivity, a cost saving or an improved outcome for the community's well-being. The successful outcome shows that an innovative solution should always be considered and we should not just continue to do things in a certain manner because things have always been done that way.