Culture in Construction Panellists at the Critical Infrastructure Summit

Infrastructure magazine’s Critical Infrastructure Summit, held on 6-8 April, brought together the biggest names in infrastructure for three days of thought-provoking discussion.

The 2022 event featured three virtual conferences:

  • Critical Infrastructure: State of Play – 6 April
  • Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure – 7 April
  • Future of Infrastructure – 8 April

State of Play was the Summit keynote session exploring the biggest issues currently facing Australia’s critical infrastructure; Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure took a deep dive into the most pressing challenges and opportunities in asset management; and Future of Infrastructure looked at what’s next for the industry – from digital infrastructure, the circular economy, skills, funding, future sector trends and more.

More than 550 infrastructure professionals registered for the Summit and all three conferences provided fascinating discussions concerning the challenges that the sector is currently facing and what needs to be done in the future.

Critical Infrastructure: State Of Play

The first conference in this year’s Summit set the scene for what the current state of Australia’s infrastructure industry looks like. The session kicked off with Peter Colacino, Chief of Policy and Research at Infrastructure Australia, delivering the keynote presentation.

Mr Colacino is one of the leading voices in Australian infrastructure and is responsible for driving Infrastructure Australia’s transformative policy and research agenda across sustainability, resilience, place-making, industry productivity and infrastructure planning. He led the delivery of the landmark 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and the inaugural Market Capacity Program.

In his presentation, Mr Colacino explored Infrastructure Australia’s new report Delivering Outcomes: A roadmap to improve infrastructure industry productivity and innovation. Infrastructure Australia developed this report to support policy makers, infrastructure owners, delivery agencies and the broader industry to improve productivity and provide clear priorities
for innovation, and the models to embrace it.

Critical Infrastructure Summit Partner, Axis Communications, also delivered an insightful video presentation looking at industry trends within the critical infrastructure space, use cases and how Axis products contribute to creating a safer, smarter world. A single, smart surveillance system from Axis can go far beyond physical security and addresses all key aspects of critical infrastructure protection, from ensuring a safe workforce and environment to uninterrupted operation and secure sites.

Advanced intelligence like AI can be employed by Axis to enhance and optimise all aspects of video surveillance performance, from camera configuration to image quality to analytics to protect your critical assets.

You can find out more about Axis at www.axis-communications.com/ criticalinfrastructuresummit2022.

The second speaker was Rachel Smith, Director Policy and Advocacy, Australian Logistics Council. Australia’s supply chain has gone through major upheaval in recent months so it was valuable to have Ms Smith explore all aspects of the logistics and freight sector at the Summit. Ms Smith’s presentation discussed the sector’s current challenges and opportunities, as well as issues around sustainability, training and skills.

We were also lucky enough to be joined by Simon Gandy, Chief of Infrastructure at Melbourne Airport. Mr Gandy discussed the critical infrastructure needed for airports as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdowns and the importance of having the right infrastructure at the right time. He also gave delegates more information about future plans for Melbourne Airport, including the proposed third runway.

Rounding out the State of Play conference on day one was the anticipated industry panel session The last six months in the infrastructure industry. The panellists included Jon Davies, CEO of the Australian Constructors Association; Dr Kim Houghton, Chief Economist at Regional Australia Institute (RAI); and Sam Wiffen, CEO and Managing Director at Reveal.

Panel topics ranged from federal funding for projects, the industry’s market capacity and productivity, skills and training, the technologies having the most impact, Probuild and the growing trend of construction sector insolvencies, subsurface infrastructure risks, and more.

This was a fascinating discussion as our panellists did not hold back regarding the current state of the sector and the important reforms that are desperately needed. Panellist Sam Wiffen from Reveal, who sponsored the panel, said the world of underground infrastructure is plagued with uncertainty, resulting in costly delays, workplace injuries, and billions of dollars of wasteful spending annually.

“Reveal is creating the ‘Google Maps of the subsurface’ – a digital twin of the subsurface to help cities see clearly into the underground realm for the first time,” Mr Wiffen said.

“Our solution is breaking out the siloed data, fixing errors and filling in the gaps with hard science, so planners can act with confidence and deliver a more efficient and sustainable world.”

Panelists at the Critical Infrastrucure Summit

Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure

The second Summit conference was one that has been running for many years, both in person and online, and that was Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure. This is always a popular event as it covers many different industries including water, energy and road, and provides delegates with tips and advice they can take back to their own organisations and asset management strategies.

The companies that helped support this event included Session Partner Nozomi Networks, Major Sponsor EKA CyberLock and Panel Sponsor Copperleaf.

Nozomi Networks said the protection of industrial assets is crucial for both commercial and national security reasons.

“The rise of connected assets is providing an entry point into new areas, such as smart cities. The increasing exposure of critical assets has led industrial corporates across water and electric utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, and oil & gas to quickly seek new solutions.

“The secret to staying one step ahead is gaining complete visibility into your IoT, OT and IT networks. This allows you to monitor and catch anomalies before they do any damage to your network, your business and your reputation.”

You can find more information about Nozomi Networks at www. nozominetworks.com

Dr Jonathan Spear, Chief Executive Officer at Infrastructure Victoria, delivered the keynote presentation; looking at how to maintain infrastructure assets in a time of transformational change. Mr Spear said infrastructure asset owners must prepare for multiple challenges over the next three decades including a growing and aging population, technological transformation, a warming climate, and worsening congestion on our transport network.

In his presentation, Mr Spear outlined recommendations within Victoria’s infrastructure strategy (2021-2051) which supports the development and maintenance of the state’s critical infrastructure – including transport, energy, water and telecommunications – in a time of transformational change.

Major Sponsor EKA CyberLock also delivered a video presentation and said they are passionate about securing critical infrastructure assets to ensure we, as a nation and a community, are protected.

“We had the privilege to be the Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure Major Sponsor once again. EKA CyberLock have been working with major critical infrastructure organisations for over 20 years and have secured thousands of facilities including electrical substations, water reservoirs, commercial buildings, telecommunication towers, airports, universities, data centres, and many more assets.

“We’ve taken the concept of a master key system and revolutionised it with our fully electronic electro-mechanical master key system, which requires no batteries, no power, and no Wi-Fi in the lock.”

If you’d like to know more about EKA CyberLock, visit www.ekacyberlock.com.au.

Representing the energy sector and its asset management strategies was Joshua Thomas, Manager Asset Management Framework at Essential Energy. Essential Energy recently achieved its three year accredited certification to ISO 55001 for its Asset Management System.

At the Summit, Mr Thomas detailed the utility’s work in developing asset management capabilities and network and asset class strategies that meet both customer and stakeholder expectations, now and into the future.

We were then joined by asset management leaders for the industry panel session, to discuss making the most of data in asset management. The three panellists were:

  • Mark Simister, Head of Program Delivery at Sydney Water
  • Julian Watts, Director, Engineering & Asset Management at KPMG Australia
  • Tim Mumford, Business Director – Digital and Innovation at Beca

We were fortunate to have a guest moderator for this panel session, Boudewijn Neijens, Chief Marketing Officer at Copperleaf, who sponsored the panel. Mr Neijens led an in-depth
discussion that covered everything from changes in asset management, impactful uses of data, how to allow for more informed decision-making, to skill gaps, cyber security, holistic digitally enabled asset strategies, and more.

Mr Neijens said it was a great panel discussion centred around the growing role of data in asset management.

“We explored the key opportunities and risks – all the way from the adoption of digital spines to the importance of retaining ‘grey hair’ talent in a digitallyenabled workplace. Tim, Julian and Mark are true experts and their insights were invaluable,” Mr Neijens said.

More information about Copperleaf can be found at www.copperleaf.com.

The final speaker for the day was Professor Jayantha Kodikara, Director, ARC Smart Pavements Hub – SPARC, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, who gave a fantastic presentation on the smart management of transport pavements.

Future of Infrastructure

The third and final conference in the Summit was the Future of Infrastructure. While State of Play took a wider lens at the current state of the sector, and Asset Management for Critical Infrastructure focused on the more technical aspects of asset management, Future of Infrastructure was all about what’s next and what can be done now to meet the future project pipeline.

Keynote speaker Chris Melham, CEO of the Civil Contractors Federation (National), opened the conference with a presentation about a civil infrastructure led economic recovery for Australia.  Mr Melham has more than 30 years of experience as an industry advocate within the not-for-profit industry association sector, and has represented a number of industries at state, federal and international levels including agriculture, transport and logistics, and currently the Australian civil infrastructure sector.

He had some great insights into what’s next for the sector, which provided a great foundation for the day’s conversations.

The second speaker was Andrew Curthoys, Digital Relationship Manager at Cross River Rail (CRR), who explored the transformative rail project and the digital technologies it is using in the planning and construction, including digital twins.

Mr Curthoys’ role at CRR is responsible for the integration of the project’s digital elements and data, and he has become recognised as a thought leader in digital enablement, digital policy development and digital application. This presentation also had fantastic video elements that showed exactly what parts of the project will look like once completed.

Representing the telecommunications sector in the program was Louise Hyland, CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), who spoke on 5G and the enormous opportunities for accelerated adoption across key industries where infrastructure plays a key role.

We then got an insight into another one of Australia’s significant rail projects, METRONET, with Ashley Vincent, METRONET Managing Director, providing an update on the groundbreaking project.

As with the previous two conferences, Future of Infrastructure also ran an industry panel session, and this one explored how we can change construction culture.

Culture is no longer an afterthought or something thought to be outside the scope of assets and projects – it is a critical component of the infrastructure sector’s ability to run effectively and meet demand. Currently the infrastructure industry is facing challenges around diversity, accessibility, and burnout from excessively long working hours.

This panel explored these issues and what we can do to improve industry culture, with panellists including:

  • Gabrielle Trainor, Chair – Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT)
  • Lisa Hogben, Package Director – Melbourne Airport Rail, Metro Trains Melbourne
  • Naomi Frauenfelder, Chief Executive Officer – Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds

This was a standout from the Summit program as the issues around culture are not only important to ensure the sector is an attractive one to work in, but also because it impacts the industry’s ability to realise the current significant pipeline of infrastructure investment.

The panel discussion covered everything from barriers when it comes to diversity, impact to infrastructure productivity, workers mental health and wellbeing in the freight and logistics sector, the key recommendations from the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce’s Culture Standard, the new Building Equality Policy, and the role of procurement in culture change, among other topics.

The Summit then wrapped up with a presentation from Katie Yates, Manager of Energy Policy at AusNet Services. With major energy sector transitions underway, it was great to hear an analysis of what needs to be done moving forward to facilitate this, including the importance of the transmission network, specifically from a Victorian perspective.

Infrastructure magazine would like to thank all of the speakers involved in this year’s event who provided insight into these topics, and all of the sponsors – Axis Communications, Reveal, Nozomi Networks, EKA CyberLock, Copperleaf, and BSI.

All of the presentations and panel sessions from the 2022 Critical Infrastructure Summit are available to watch on-demand for registered delegates. To register for free and gain access to the recordings, please visit www.critical-infrastructure.com.au.

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