Made in Geelong, highly sustainable carbon fibre reinforced bridges could one day become commonplace thanks to a successful City of Greater Geelong initiative, and the first Procurement for Innovation project to be successfully tendered in Australia.
To encourage sustainable innovation in line with its community-led clever and creative vision, the City, with support from Cleantech Innovations Geelong, tendered for a 100-year maintenance free pedestrian bridge in 2017. The tender invited companies to come up with solutions to the costly maintenance problem associated with traditional bridges – usually made of timber, steel or concrete - which cost the City around $500,000 to inspect, repair, maintain and replace each year.
The winning submission came from a consortium including local manufacturer Austeng, Deakin’s cutting-edge Waurn Ponds Carbon Nexus facility and Australian engineering company Rocla. The consortium researched and developed an innovative new building product made from geopolymer, including some recycled materials, and reinforced with carbon fibre, which will be stronger and longer lasting than existing products.
The first two bridges slated to be replaced with the new design are timber structures over Cowies Creek in Deppler Park (“Seagull Paddock”). Construction is expected to begin this year.
The tender was the first in Australia to be offered using a Procurement for Innovation process, which aims to encourage the development and viability of clean technology – economically viable products that harness renewable materials and energy sources while reducing emissions and waste – using the substantial buying power of public sector procurement.
The Procurement for Innovation process was enabled by Cleantech Innovations Geelong, an alliance of business and industry which aims to establish Geelong as a Centre of Excellence for clean technology in Australia by attracting investment, creating jobs and building skills. It is jointly developed through the state government’s Manufacturing Productivity Network, the Geelong Manufacturing Council and the City of Greater Geelong’s Future Proofing initiative.
Along with a commitment to buy a new innovative product which is not yet available on the market, the project provided a longer than normal deadline for the tender, as well as grants and support for tenderers to invest in research and access international expertise towards their submissions.
The Austeng-led consortium beat seven other tenderers from across Australia, as the most competitive on price, innovation and local content.
Cr Peter Murrihy, Co-Chair Social and Infrastructure Planning - City of Greater Geelong:
Faced with challenges like climate change and the fast pace of economic trends, sustainable development needs innovation in terms of new products and services and how we procure them.
This project, developed in Geelong, is an example of how we can lead the way in bringing sustainable solutions to the market, which is a key aspiration of our community-led clever and creative vision.
David Peart, Chief Executive Officer - Geelong Manufacturing Council, Co-Chair - Cleantech Innovations Geelong:
Using public sector buying power will help transition our solid manufacturing and engineering base in Geelong to new innovations.
This project will result in new jobs. Geelong designed and made, it doesn’t get better than that.
Ross George, Managing Director and Director, Austeng:
Procurement for Innovation is one of the game-changing services provided by Cleantech Innovations Geelong. It was the catalyst for our company to collaborate with others to combine our expertise and to bring a new product to market – in fact a world first.
The new material will potentially eliminate ‘concrete cancer’ going forward and provide a new and disruptive approach that will have wide application in the construction industry generally.
Barbara Morton, Director, Sustainable Procurement Ltd:
Sustainable Procurement Ltd is delighted to have been able to support the first Procurement for Innovation project of its kind in Australia. The innovative method used for these bridges is likely to set new standards for procurement. It will deliver savings while reducing waste going to landfill and creating local employment opportunities. This is truly innovative, sustainable procurement in action.