Innovate, Excavate, Repeat: The QGC Pipeline Project

Murphy Pipe and Civil is no stranger to creative problem solving.

The company’s work for QGC to install upstream gathering pipelines for the Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) Project in south-west Queensland has required innovative solutions to unique problems, including the adaption of marine guidance software to ensure its fleet of Spiderploughs could accurately install pipelines using mobile GPS base stations.

The QCLNG gathering project will deliver Australia’s first, and largest, coal seam gas gathering pipeline network, laid in tenements that cover about 4,500km2 across south-west Queensland (highlighted in green).

Spanning across tenements that cover about 4,500km2 of the Surat Basin, gathering works for the QCLNG Project continue to expand. The first of its kind, the project is converting natural gas from coal seams into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. First LNG production in December 2014 marked four years of project construction that saw expansion of QGC’s existing natural gas processing facilities in the Surat Basin and construction of a 540 kilometre buried pipeline network to link those facilities to a new liquefaction plant on Curtis Island, near Gladstone. The benefits of the project for Queensland and Australia are significant and include job creation, investment and economic growth and production of a cleaner hydrocarbon resource for use globally.

Murphy Pipe and Civil (MPC) is a well-known Australian pipeline construction company for the energy, water, and mining sectors. MPC is currently constructing for the QCLNG Project, the network of pipelines that connect QGC’s wells to its gas and water processing facilities and will become the largest network of gathering HDPE (High Density Polythene Pipe) pipeline in Australia.

The QCLNG pipeline network gathers and transports natural gas to a liquefaction facility on Curtis Island for export.

MPC’s Construction Manager Tom Flanagan describes the progress of the project, “Since April 2012, MPC has laid more than 3500+ km of HDPE pipe across QGC’s upstream gas gathering network. This includes more than 180,000 pipe lengths and 200,000 welds.”

Depending on the landscape, length and width of the pipeline easement, and ground conditions, MPC utilises a combination of methods to lay the pipeline. Whereas the more traditional trench and bury method is carried out with excavators, a new innovative method developed for this challenging project employs the company’s fleet of Fockersperger Spiderploughs which plough the ground and install the pipe without the need for any open trenches.

Typically used in small gauge pipe and fibre optic cable installation, MPC has extensively modified the Spiderplough to accommodate HDPE pipelines up to 630mm. Guided by Trimble HYDROpro software (for marine applications), the plough is attached to cable winches and pulled forward enabling an attached steel chute to open up the ground while HDPE pipe is automatically inserted in a single pass. The sum volume of displaced soil quickly re-settles and is lightly graded.

This method greatly minimises environmental impacts because it does not disturb soil profiles or mix subterranean and non-subterranean soil types and also enables far quicker pipeline installation compared to traditional methods. As a result of there being no open trench at any time during installation, risks to people, stock and wildlife are eliminated too.

The plough is used on approximately 75% of the pipeline required for the QCLNG gathering network. The plough is very efficient, particularly on short linear runs and complements the company’s fleet of excavators and trenchers which manage conditions such as rocky soil.

MPC works with SITECH Construction Systems (CS) to provide the right Trimble guidance systems, relying heavily on their ability to run heavy machines accurately and efficiently. Clear and grade dozer guidance is achieved with Trimble GCS900, as are conventional trencher excavations. Pre-rip dozers and supervisor reference systems are guided by Trimble SCS900; roller compaction pass counts are recorded and monitored via Trimble CCS900.

HYDROpro logs data to record chute outlet position information, which is post processed to allow surveyors to create underground as-built surveys of the Spiderplough’s progress.
HYDROpro logs data to record chute outlet position information, which is post processed to allow surveyors to create underground as-built surveys of the Spiderplough’s progress.

For the plough, the most suitable guidance software was determined to be marine software—Trimble HYDROpro Construction software for dredges. HYDROpro software running on a Trimble Tablet provides the plough operator with 3D guidance to a pre-determined design line. Guidance hardware includes two SPS85x GPS receivers: one as a moving base and the other for heading. The system also employs a bi-directional angle sensor for pitch and roll adjustments. The system ensures the pipe (or dual pipes) are laid to the correct horizontal alignment and depth of cover.

The size of the area where pipeline is being laid also offers some unique challenges and constraints to generating position corrections, especially when compared to a typical construction site.

“We need constant positioning correction to run all our positioning devices for the life of each working field,” says Steed Shepherd, MPC’s Machine Guidance Manager and director of Machine Control Survey Services.

The project covers a large area with three work fronts spanning more than 350km with crews moving within all these areas.

“Sites are fairly fast moving,” says Shepherd. “For this project we might be in one work front for six months compared to a road construction site, which might stay put for a couple of years. Work takes place in narrow corridors, often on private properties, and crews must stay within these construction corridors at all times,” says Steed.

“We don’t get a 10km2 paddock to work in; we get a 20-30m wide corridor running through the paddock.”

When installing a GPS base station to provide corrections, Steed and his crew must stay within this defined corridor unless special permission is granted by the landowner. This constraint often prevents Steed and his colleagues from installing the base (or repeater) in the best geographic location, and leads to a need for more base stations overall. Instead of one base station installed in the optimal location, the crew might need three or four. For this reason, and because sites are only live for up to six months, concreting in a permanent GNSS base installation makes little sense.

Having worked with SITECH CS for a number of years, MPC partnered with them to address this challenge—by constructing a GPS base station that could remain in place for an extended period, but then be moved to a new location when necessary.

“Rather than setting a new one up every day on a set of legs, we wanted something a bit more permanent, but not completely permanent,” says Steed.

Land access protocols guide MPC on where it can install a GPS base station.
Land access protocols guide MPC on where it can install a GPS base station.

They eventually innovated with a transportable and secure custom trailer.

The mobile GNSS base station begins as a typical box trailer. But then a half toolbox for storing survey equipment is built on to it, along with a tilting solar panel to generate power. All the wiring, timers, and regulators needed to switch the power off at night, to allow batteries to maintain charge, are included. Two onboard 12v batteries keep the base running for up to about five days if there is no sun during that time— which is unlikely in Queensland, Australia’s “Sunshine State”. The expensive base hardware is securely housed, and an extendable radio mask is included.

MPC’s mobile GNSS base stations have proven so successful that the company now has 14 trailers in use. Twelve of these are operating as repeaters, due to radio transmission challenges caused by distance and vegetation, but all are able to function as either. MPC also has four permanent concreted base stations.

While the QCLNG Gathering Project continues to expand, MPC expects to construct even more mobile systems in the near future. And MPC, with partner SITECH CS, will continue thinking outside the box (trailer) in order to get the job done, whatever challenges come their way.

Trimble ProjectSight

One Tool.
Total Control.

When it comes to project management, control is everything.  Projectshight unifies the field and the office with a single-source of collaboration and the latest plan sets and documentation.  So everybone is working from the same playbook.

Visit Trimble ProjectSight for more information.

Trimble Dimensions wrap up

Last week, over 4000 people descended on Las Vegas for Trimble Dimensions, Trimble’s User Conference held every two years. This is the largest crowd yet for a Dimensions conference and we were overwhelmed by the number of Australasians who made the trip to find out how Trimble technology is transforming how the world works. Alongside fellow Australian and New Zealand Trimble dealerships, we were accompanied by over 100 customers from the South Pacific.

Opening the conference
Opening the conference

Here’s a Trimble Dimensions wrap up, insights from the Heavy Civil division, pictures and links through to all the news.

The direction of the Heavy Civil Construction industry

Ros Buick, Vice President of Trimble’s Heavy Civil Construction division says:

“The contractor has to get the right material, the right people and the right equipment in the right place at the right time. You’ve all seen it, the projects that go on forever! A major challenge comes from the fact that construction sites are by their very nature chaotic. Trimble’s challenge is to take constructible reality earlier in the project life cycle and link plans for engineers and contractors to the contractor’s site operations.

“The construction sector needs to improve its efficiency – around 80% of civil project are delivered late or over budget. How do we reduce this chaos?

“Trimble directly tackles these challenges using the Trimble Connected Site platform of solutions. The site is made more coherent by being visible for the contractor’s staff due to constant sensing and recording around the whole site and this is driving the worksite around a 3D model that links plans to project operations.

“There are huge gains or savings to be achieved from solutions provided by Trimble technology. These systems can deliver machine productivity gains of 30% along with reductions in survey and field engineering time of 55%. Most of all, this technology can deliver overall project improvements of more than 30%.”


Trimble Site Controller Software – measure and set-out

SCS900Last week we introduced Trimble Site Controller software and gave an overview of what the latest version, 3.4, can do for civil and construction applications. If you need a refresh, check out the article here. 

This week Johan Johnson, Construction Systems Support, is back to show us just how simple the system is to use, with examples from the measure and stake (set-out) mode. If you’re in the field, this means you’ll get through your work faster and with less need for support. If you run a field crew or you’re in operations, this means projects being completed more quickly and accurately with less rework, ultimately costing your company less. When the information gathered out in the field is fed back into Trimble office software the opportunities for making your project more efficient are endless.

Trimble Site Controller Software – Measure mode

With the advanced measurement module in Trimble SCS900 version 3.4, you still have five ‘quick code’ panels with your most used on site features, for example ‘PFHP’ for Fire Hydrant.  But now, once your survey becomes more detailed, you can have up to 35 codes displayed, making it much easier to change from one feature to the other.

To show you how this makes everything really simple, here’s how this plays out when carrying out a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) survey focusing on utilities.

1. On the map screen you’ll already notice the five quick codes displayed on the left of the screen.










2. Select the top left tab where it shows multiple panels and all relevant codes will show up for that group. A group could be roads, utilities, structures etc, in this case it’s utilities. You can also show ‘all codes’.


3. To customise the five quick codes – ones that you’ll use all the time – you can drag and drop from the panel of codes shown

4. All you need to do now is select the code and measure

This example of using the advanced measurement module shows just how quick and easy it is to navigate around SCS900 version 3.4. This means you can quickly get on with the field work you’re there to do and get it right first time.

Trimble Site Controller Software – Stake (set-out) mode

Now with a ‘tap and hold’ function available whenever you’re on the map screen, stake mode or set-out mode is also incredibly simple to use. We’ll show you what we mean by using the example of staking out a line:

1. Using the tap and hold function, tap and hold your line (this could be a road or a point). Select whether you want to stake the line or use it as a reference line.










2. Then select which chainage you want to start at


3. When the map screen shows up, there are more options you can choose. To the left of the stake tab is the method of stake out, this gives you the option of random or fixed intervals.

4. There are two ways to change the offset settings of the line:

a) Select the Trimble button next to the home button and then go to ‘settings’, ‘line settings’ and changes can be made there.
b) If you configure the info bars along the top to have Stakeout Line Offset H or V, you can then select the tab and it will take you directly to the Stakeout line settings page.

So, as you can see with the examples above, Trimble Site Controller Software – SCS900 version 3.4 – is incredibly simple to use, meaning field crews are more efficient and accurate and can produce better quality data for use in the office.

Trimble ranked top provider of Commercial Fleet Telematics for second year running

FSM-HDThis week, Trimble announced that it’s been ranked as the number one telematics service provider in ABI Research’s 2014 Commercial Telematics Competitive Assessment. This is the second year in a row that Trimble has taken the top spot. The annual survey assesses providers based on a number of criteria and Trimble ranked top for market share of subscribers, vertical segmentation, quality and reliability, regional coverage and organisation health.

Telemetry is the process of gathering data remotely to transmit back to wherever you like for monitoring. As an example, telematics technology is used to monitor the behaviour, health and productivity of remote vehicles. UPG can work with you to provide the right Trimble solutions for your light or heavy vehicle fleet.

“Innovation is at the heart of our business strategy,” said John Cameron, general manager of Trimble’s Field Service Management (FSM) Division. “We’ve recognised that more and more organisations are increasingly looking to integrate their Fleet Management capability with a solution that allows them to manage all aspects of their work and workers in one place and are delighted to be recognised as a leader in this field. Our commitment to our customers does not stop at best-in-class telematics as we continue to focus on driving the productivity of mobile workers through dynamic mobility tools that offer enhanced visibility into the field to transform operational effectiveness.”

Quick links for more information on fleet telematics

Contact SITECH Construction Systems today if you’d like to talk to us about our fleet solutions.

Read the full press release

Download the latest Trimble insight report about Transforming Service Delivery in 2014

Watch the short video below to hear Jason Chipchase from Deloitte UK discussing the challenges of managing a mobile workforce and how to increase efficiency.