September 2012 - Infrastructure Digest

India Blackout Affects 600 Million People

“Electricity for nine states in the northern grid, supporting about 370 million people, went off at 2:00 a.m. on July 30 and returned within 11 to 18 hours. Northeast India lost power at 1:00 p.m. on July 31. Ten hours later, power had not been restored in some places in north India. In all, the outages have affected some 600 million people in 19 of India’s 28 states.

A combination of drought, unmined coal resources and a lack of grid controls likely led to the collapse, experts say. The northern grid, the country’s largest, is not matching up with demand. Hydropower has suffered this year because of a lack of monsoons, and thermal powerplants are suffering because of low coal supplies. Thermal plants supply 65% of power in the country.” Details on the huge Indian blackout, from a credible source. ENR, July 31st, 2012


Stellar Management

“”A bad storm caused a huge increase in influent flows, made worse by the South branch of the Nashua River overflowing its banks,” Riccio says. “At one point, the influent wet well elevation rose so rapidly that the pumps couldn’t keep up.”

Riccio’s team kept the plant running, and processed 6 to 7 million gallons of the estimated 20 mgd influent flow. His performance in this crisis was the main reason he won the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Operator of the Year award.” Profile of successful treatment plant management in Massachusetts. Treatment Plant Operator, October 2012


HDD Gains Traction with Electric Utilities

“Water utilities, sewer systems and telecommunications companies are always looking to improve infrastructure, frequently implementing HDD services. Just the same, electric companies also need to expand their outreach. For various reasons, installations or extensions of high voltage transmission lines are often required to be placed underground, rather than above-ground. Directional drilling offers electric companies that option.” A look at use of HDD by electrical utilities, including case study of HDD in downtown Savannah. Trenchless Technology, June 8th, 2012


GIS—Just a Tool: Common Misconceptions

“GIS is a powerful tool that is currently being underutilized by land surveyors. This underutilization is costing the surveying industry time during the business day, which equates to wasted money. I am not here to preach that GIS will save the universe from all which is evil. This approach has been used by the existing proponents of GIS with little effect. In my view, GIS is simply a hammer, and if you need to drive nails a hammer is a great tool, but if you are cutting lumber a hammer is useless. The biggest fallacy of the existing users and proponents of GIS is thinking that the professional surveying industry needs to change the way that they conduct business in order to fit into a GIS world. Surveying has been practiced for thousands of years and changing the way that surveying is conducted all because of the invention of a new hammer is crazy. GIS is simply a tool for the professional surveyor to be more efficient, not a new way of doing business.” Opening column, of a new series on GIS for land surveyors. The American Surveyor, June 30th, 2012


Ground Penetrating Radar: An Essential Component in the Locating Tool Box

Early GPR technology was relatively primitive and the data presentation complex. Further, GPR is extremely sensitive to soil conditions and soil clutter making the analysis of the GPR data difficult for the uninitiated. 

Over time, GPR technology has changed little in terms of sensitivity but enormous changes have occurred in terms of its functional form and information presentation. Continuous adaption to make the data much more practical and presentable in real-time enables operators to make real-time decisions on location, depth and other target attributes. Systems have become lighter and more portable and self-contained. Further, soil complexity is better understood and the knowledge base of GPR limitations is much increased.”

Argues that even though GPR hasn’t grown more sensitive, better technology, data formatting, and interfaces now make the technology practical for utility location. Since better interfaces improve everything, it’s a pretty good argument.  Trenchless Technology, July 12th, 2012


The Lost Graves of Tarawa

“After more than 14 years of research, Mark Noah, a World War II history buff in Marathon, Florida, started raising money for a mission to the South Pacific islands to find those missing men, and cause the military’s Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command to launch a formal investigation into bringing those remains home for burials with full military honors.

“There is plenty of evidence that the remains are there,” Noah explained. “The chaplain who was responsible for graves registration kept meticulous records of who was buried, along with information such as service number, branch of service, date of death, nature of wounds, but Tarawa was only the first step in the American campaign to reach Tokyo, so at the time our troops had more pressing things to do than to tend to bodies, and space was at a premium due to their need for the airfield on the island, so the remains were lost in the shuffle.”

“Five of the burial sites have had U.S. Marine remains accidentally dug up during the extensive construction activity that has taken place over the years,” Noah said. “As a result, we have known generally where they are buried, but having the remains found, identified, and returned for burial and to give families of the missing men a sense of closure is our foremost goal.”” An unusual use of ground penetrating radar to find grave sites. The American Surveyor, June 30, 2012


Generating BIM Under Pressure

“Built in 1963, the 350,000-square-foot facility has already seen its share of additions and upgrades with multiple wings built onto the original structure. With each expansion, new or enhanced mechanical systems have been installed to meet the growing requirements for air conditioning, heat, water, and electricity. As a result, the mechanical rooms—five in the basement and two upstairs—are jammed with pumps, valves, conduits, and pipe runs. “In the past 50 years, there have been so many changes to those rooms that the original design drawings are useless to us,”” Good overview of laser scanning in complex plant environment with no as-builts.  Professional Surveyor, August 2012


Examining Sustainability at DFW Airport

“Look at iPads for example. We have them out in the field; all our contractors have them. The estimate is some $5 million savings in paper from plans that don’t have to be produced in paper every week.” Good article about green initiatives at a Dallas Fort Worth airport. Unfortunately in annoying format. Sustainable Construction, 2012


BoDean’s Quarry Is The 1st To Go Solar

“Why did BoDean decide to go with solar power? “It costs a tremendous amount of money each year to power our motors, crushers, screens, conveyors, pumps and dewatering system,” says Williams. “Energy costs keep going up and will continue to do so. It made sense to us to switch to using renewable sources for our power via photo-voltaic solar and stabilize our costs. This switch will save money, have a positive effect upon cash flow, and reduce our carbon footprint by over 900 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per year.””  You can’t run an operation as energy-intensive as a quarry on solar, right? Well… FCP, June 18th, 2012


Paving Of Vail Pass Results In High Incentive Dollars

“The paving began June 21, 2011 and was completed on September 18, 2011. The Vail Pass project consisted of two lanes on the westbound and one lane on the east bound between mile marker (MM) 180 and MM 190. After the subcontractor, Alpha Milling, milled the existing asphalt 2 inches, Lafarge followed with a paving train. Key equipment used was a Cat AP-1055D and Barber Greene BG650 windrow elevator.

“We used approximately 32,965 tons of asphalt to complete this project,” says Justin Jordan, superintendent at Lafarge. “We used a SX75 58-28 virgin mix without reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP).”

The PG 58-28 binder is a softer binder that is predominantly used in geographical locations with higher elevations. It theoretically upholds to the freeze and thaw cycle better and reduces cracking potential.” Paving case study, in extreme conditions. I used to drive this beautiful, high-altitude pass monthly. FCP, June &th, 2012


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