Endeavour Awards Steel Innovation Award: Modular Wall Systems

A quick install, temporary boundary wall made from Australian steel has won this year's Australian Steel Innovation award. 

"This particular award for our QuikWall product is really in recognition of our relationship we have with our customers," Modular Wall Systems' sales and marketing manager Jason Harvey humbly offered when asked what winning Endeavour Award for the Steel Innovation of the Year meant to the company.

The Caringbah, NSW-based Modular Wall was nominated for no fewer than three Endeavour Awards for its achievements, won the Steel Innovation award, as well as getting a gong for Industrial Product of the Year with its ThermaMax Panel solution (see pg 46). They are the inventors of the modular boundary wall concept and claim over 5000 projects completed across Australia.

"[QuikWall] came about through meetings with BHP, recognising that there was a noise issue in moving environments. And through Australian steel products, like BlueScope Steel and OneSteel we developed the QuikWall system."

A brilliant concept can sometimes be a simple one, and the patented QuikWall design is simple, essentially a stackable steel barrier with a winch to adjust its height.

"It's the first moveable, temporary noise wall, it's adjustable in height, so it's capable of going in lots of different wind regions and it's just a great recognition for our team," said Harvey.

Through collaboration with its clients – including big resource companies with particular demands for durable, effective equipment – MWS has come up with a reusable, relocatable, lightweight, easy-to-set-up barrier against noisy, harsh environments.

The "CorroLink" composite acoustic wall panels and galvanised steel members, made from Australian materials, measure 2600 mm in height when retracted. They extend up to 4400 mm "in less than a minute" according to Modular, using a winch device, at 400 mm increments. Its design has come about through extensive collaboration with clients.

"One of the other real benefits that we worked hard on and it wasn't in our first prototype, but over the last 12 months we've reduced the actual weight of the units," said Harvey.  

"We sit down with the client and we look at the holistic response. And we're thrilled to keep working with those clients."

The QuikWall is simple to assemble and space-effective when stored. A three to four-man team can install 90 linear metres a day. MWS says that a 25 + decibel reduction in audible noise can be achieved by its system.

"We've been capable of getting up to 400 square metres of temporary noise wall on a particular truck by using lightweight, insulated panels. And that's taken a lot of trucks off the road. So the environmental benefit doesn't just stop with the acoustic solution.  

"You can get pretty much a whole enclosure done in half a day," explained Harvey. "They come pretty much pre-assembled and are very quick to erect and maintain."

QuikWall is anchored to the ground by either a ground plug (positioned over its legs and driven in by a hand-operated jack hammer) or by, in certain specific applications, a concrete counterweight.

The system, which can withstand wind regions A, B and C, can be compacted into racks for transportation and to be set up elsewhere after use. Three racks of 8 units each can fit into the bed of a semi-trailer. This makes a total of 396 m transported by one truck. At 125 tonnes it might not seem light, but compared to other solutions it's extremely efficient.

According to the company's sums, two trucks carrying a full load of QuikWalls would take 26 semi-trailers (assuming they were using shipping containers as an alternative) off the road and save 8904 kg of carbon emissions, to say nothing of the cash saving.  

After being successfully adopted by big miners, Could we see MWS's innovation in more and more places? Is there potential for growth into, say, the outdoor events market?

"It's really an industrial product; the main use is around drilling environments and exploration and certainly where construction collides with residential areas," explained Harvey, though he said there may be possibilities for uses other than in the resources sector.

"Our footing system has quite a wide footprint, and we have been approached by companies who do temporary events, but at the moment the application doesn't really suit those kinds of environments."


Image: Harvey receiving the award from Steve Gregson, BlueScope Steel