2022 has possibly been the most successful year for HERA in its over 40 year history.
This was certainly the case for research grant success and strengthening of our research capability for the manufacturing and construction sectors.
In 2022, we at last launched our zero carbon steel program Hōtaka Whakakore Puhanga Waro (mo te Hua Rino). This program allows zero carbon steel to be specified, with credible offsets certified by Ekos. The offsetting requirements are based on credible life cycle analysis and Environmental Product Declarations and offer additionality (i.e. they reliably lead to reduced net carbon) through nature positive offsetting via planting and regeneration of native forests that offer biodiversity and local employment benefits.
This program offers zero carbon options for most steel products used in New Zealand, including stainless steel, rebar, roofing and cladding, light gauge and structural steel. This comprehensiveness, reliability and independence makes it a first of its kind globally.
We also commenced development of Australasia’s first material passport. This work will see steel re-use at end of life be supported and we hope that once developed, this can be rolled out across many building materials. This will make buildings become “banks of materials”, where materials can be “withdrawn” and re-used. This has obvious carbon benefits.
Manufacturing industry support
I continued to be engaged with key developments in the manufacturing sector, joining the Advisory Board for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Transformation Plan and co-sponsoring the Innovation and Sustainability work streams. I also was re-elected to the role of Co-Chair of Hanga-Aro Rau, the Workforce Development Council for Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics. HERA was also one of only two international partners in the newly created $260 million Australian-based Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites Capability Cooperative Research Centre (SoMAC).
Leading the way for Construction 4.0
HERA was awarded $10.3 million in Endeavour funding for a four-year research program titled “Developing a Construction 4.0 transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s construction sector”. This project will use complexity science to build upon developing nascent global Construction 4.0 knowledge. The research will be world-leading in an emerging area of international interest and create data-driven decision-making for the future of construction. It will also incorporate Mātauranga Māori interfaces, making it unique globally.
This is also an area where HERA has been supporting our industry to transform, with 2022 launching our development of a Mātauranga Māori toolbox for our industry. The construction 4.0 Endeavour project is a huge opportunity to create change in the sector and will include 16 PhD/Masters students involved in the project, thus also making a significant contribution to workforce development and Māori participation.
HERA was also a partner in AUT’s successful Endeavour project titled “Sustainable earthquake resilient buildings for a better future”. The above three grant successes make it the most successful year for research grants in HERA’s history.
Along with a range of design guides, HERA launched its long awaited composite beam and slab design tool, to assist engineers to design to AS/NZS 2327:2017. HERA is continuing to work on its software portfolio to support structural steel design and has committed to releasing at least two new design guides per annum. HERA also developed an online corrosion map to assist designers and engineers with durability design of steel and steel- concrete composite structures by understanding .
We also updated slab panel method (SPM) software when the copyright was transferred back to HERA. The updated SPM provides a more cost-effective, efficient and reliable technical solution and complies with the current design standard. There is an opportunity for deck manufacturers to contact us if they want to add their profile to SPM software.
HERA Innovation Centre
HERA obtained Board approval for its Innovation Centre to be a 6 star green star build. We have now registered for this certification and look forward to construction to commence in 2023.
Our GM of Fabrication 4.0, Dr Michail Karpenko, was awarded the Steel Construction NZ Chair’s Award and HERA was a finalist in the prestigious 2022 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards in the Associations category for our work on sustainability, innovation and diversity in the steel industry.
More than 183 professionals have attended HERA Welding Supervisor and Welding Inspector courses in 2022. New courses in welding engineering for those carrying out engineering safety inspections of cable logging yarders or for heavy vehicle specialist certification HVSC have also been developed.
What is planned for 2023?
We are not sure we could top such an amazing year, but as always – we are determined to try!
Team growth – Looking forward we are looking to expand our team. We are currently in the process of recruiting two Senior Structural Engineers, of which one will have a sustainability focus. We are also seeking someone to fill an ICT Officer role to support our digital infrastructure and strategy. In the new year, we also hope to welcome a new welding engineer who will help support auditing and training processes.
Key research – From a project perspective we will of course be busy with our key research – in particular kickstarting the first year of our Construction 4.0 transformation Endeavour Fund Research. This will include establishment of an Industry Advisory Group, logo and website development, PhD scholarship selections and most importantly making headway in the key research themes. Our structural systems team will also be carrying out several steel research panel projects which will be focused on achieving earthquake resilience in buildings, improving seismic and structural fire performance in steel, developing design tools and composite beam software, updates to HERA Reports R4-133, and a state of the art review of carbon sequestration. Our welding team will be equally busy and building on all of the amazing work they have done this year in Industry 4.0 offerings, innovation, training and research into welded connections, seismic performance and similar. They of course will also be part of the SOMAC research project in Australia as a key research partner.
Sustainability – As you know, sustainability has been a key focus in 2022 for HERA. In 2023 we plan to add a ‘carbon conscious’ component to our zero carbon steel program to allow those who want to set targets for their own decarbonisation path to be able to do so. This means you will be able to choose a low carbon vs zero carbon option (i.e carbon conscious option), with a minimum offset of 30% of associated emissions.
Future Forum – 2023 also will see our next HERA Future Forum conference in Ōtautahi Christchurch on 5 May with a key theme of ‘next generation leadership’ to help our industry better adapt to and respond to the constant change around us. 2022 saw a lot of geopolitical volatility, technological disruptions, economic and political uncertainty, a ramp up in climate change initiatives, and a growing social conscience. We expect 2023 and beyond to also experience this and more, which is why a focus on next generation leadership is so important! This conference will be followed by our Industry Awards which is a great time to celebrate the achievements of our heavy engineering and steel industry in New Zealand. These are an important set of events for HERA as we only hold these events every two years (this one being delayed by a year due to Covid-19).
Membership engagement – We also hope to increase our membership engagement and have a few ideas in the pipeline to show value to our members. This will include looking into facilitating roadshows across Aotearoa, improved communications, greater student membership support, public relations efforts to positively position our industry, membership profiling, SME support and more.
As you can see, we have a lot planned and we can’t wait to hit the ground running in the New Year!
Before closing off, I would just like to acknowledge that none of what we have done (and plan to do) would be possible without the support of our Executive Board, membership and wider industry. So from myself and the HERA team – we’d like to thank you all and wish you all the best over the Christmas holiday period. Stay safe, enjoy time with your whānau (family), and we’ll see you in the new year!