The 2022 winner is Matt Holz from TasWater
Our congratulations go to Matt and all of the other solutions that were submitted by Members in 2022.
Download the 2022 PASS Booklet
What was the problem that you experienced?
Manual removal of rag from sewage pump stations using rakes in combination with a jet hose to cut up the rag was a very slow, physically demanding and high risk activity which would often result in rag and debris being transferred to the treatment plant and potentially cause problems there.
Removal of rag was very slow hard work with significant risk needing to be managed because operators often had to reach over railing to access rag under edges of the sump. It relied on physical effort to drag rag from pump and snag points often several meters into a sump. Rakes only allowed capture of debris down to a limited size and made lifting large rag balls almost impossible. Large rag balls had to be gradually pulled apart resulting is many lost pieces and frustratingly slow progress.
How did the problem impact you or your work situation?
Manual handling risks including soft tissue injuries due to using the rake.
A rake is not an effective tool as it cuts through rag which then falls apart. This resulted in a very tedious and extended period of physical activity leaning over rails pulling on the long shaft of the rake. The process often resulted in many smaller rags that were difficult to capture or were sucked through to other equipment or filters.
How long had the problem been occurring?
Rags balls and ragging have been increasing with the increased use of wipes. While there have been some iterations to rakes, they have generally been the standard tool for many years.
How did you come up with the solution?
Matt Holz and Vere Story started investigating better ways of working. They looked at a range of options to grab the rag and lift it mechanically. They drew initial designs on paper and discussed it with coordinators and managers. Their manager, Brendan Hannigan, discussed the idea with the TasWater Innovation Team and linked in Vere and Matt to take action on it.
The Innovation Team undertook an assessment and then worked with a manufacturer to create a prototype. The first prototype was reviewed by Matt and Vere together with the Safety Officer, Greg Slore. A revised design included a better clamping action on the jaws and a bigger volume. It was important that the volume did not become too large limiting access to tight spaces and creating too heavy a lift. The safety team reviewed the design, undertook necessary checks and issued directives on use before the first trial. The second prototype was trialled with further modifications of the scissor action provided by the Safety Officer.