An enlightening experience for Steven Orr



Steven Orr Electrical recently completed an award-winning lighting job at its local sportsground. Jacob Harris caught up with Steven for a first-hand account.

From its beginnings as just two qualified electricians in 1999, Steven Orr Electrical has grown to employ a team of 10 skilled staff members who live and work in the Echuca Moama district.  The business recently won a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Lighting Project’ category of the NECA Victoria Excellence Awards. The award was for the supply and delivery of light towers and fittings to Echuca Vic Park Recreation Reserve and Echuca South Oval.

“The Vic park precinct is the main football ground here in the Goulbourn Valley competition. It’s used by about 10 teams plus Auskick [an AFL coaching program] as well as a secondary school that uses it as itssporting oval. There’s even a couple of netball courts. It’s the primary sporting hub in the shire of Campaspe,” says Steven Orr.

The upgrading of lighting at Echuca Vic Park Recreation Reserve and Echuca South Oval – which included the design, supply and delivery of sports lighting towers, and the removal of old light towers – was a public tender formatted by the Campaspe Shire Council and was awarded based on points criteria which outlined specific outcomes.

On winning the tender, Steven Orr Electrical commenced work in late March of 2015 and managed to complete the job within six weeks – no small feat for an outfit with just seven guys on the tools.

“We had done some bowling green and tennis court lighting prior to this but we hadn’t really had a crack at a project of this size. We supplied and installed lighting towers to three brightness levels: 50lux, 100lux and 300lux.This gives user groups the ability to use the facilities in any capacity from training through to game day as per the AFL country standards. We also installed a Halytech Illuminator floodlight control and facility monitoring system which allows authorised users to control lights with their smart phones,” says Steven.

Within just four days the team was able to dismantle the existing lighting before constructing, assembling and erecting four poles and a total of 72 lights. They also supplied and installed underground cabling to the four pole locations with minimal impact on the site thanks to underground horizontal boring.

During the works, the site had to remain closed to multiple user groups including schools, sporting bodies and the general public. The grounds being the main hub for exercise and sporting activities in the town heightened the importance of completing the job as quickly as possible.

Before they started the work, Steven and his team had to communicate with all the different user groups to make sure they were all aware the site was going to be closed down for a period of time. They were able to coordinate access for short periods to try and keep everyone happy (rather than just lock the site down for six weeks).

As it turns out, coordination (and not just of user groups) proved to be one of the project’s major challenges.

“The biggest challenge was planning and working to time frames.  Like all big jobs, waiting for materials to arrive was a big issue. The poles were ordered through an Australian company but they’re actually manufactured in China so they came across on a ship and of course there were delays at the docks. Even getting the light fittings on time was difficult because there have been so many government grants for sporting facilities around Australia.

“We also had to factor in that the footings needed to be in for 28 days for the concrete to cure completely before we could stand poles on them. During this time, you still need to be progressing so you’re ready to go by the time the concrete is ready.

“To get around these issues we pre-cabled everything in the workshop and then dropped it off on site – we were always trying to keep one step ahead even if we weren’t on site.”

Apart from issues with timing, Steven’s team had to contend with the fact that the site has been there for a long time. There were demolished grand stands and concrete slabs around the precinct and while Steven was aware of their positions it was hard to know whether they’d been removed or not. This became an issue when they were boring foundation holes to the depths specified by the engineers.

“We were lucky that we didn’t have too many issues with fill from previously existing structures.  We were on a sand hill though, so that presented a few little hiccups along the way.

“When we bored out the holes (which were 6m deep and 1.5m round) the sand would dry out and as soon as it did, it would want to cave in. So from the time the hole was drilled to the time we set our rag bolt structure or our mesh in the ground we virtually had to poor the concrete straight away so we didn’t get any infill from the surrounding dirt.”

One light tower had to be repositioned so as not to impact spectator viewing. This was moved to behind a popular viewing area – a move that had no impact on the light level requirements at ground level.

“The existing lighting layout had a concrete pole in the path of view of where the majority of spectators sit. So we made a suggestion to the shire that we try to relocate that pole without compromising the design and the lighting output. We actually installed it behind one of the spectator sheds so that it doesn’t impact on viewing and allows the Shire to renovate or extend down the track without much trouble.”

The new lighting has achieved 100% ground coverage for optimised playing performance by exceeding the average of 300lux per AFL country standards. The brightness, lack of shadows, balance of lighting is what is required to enable the sports fields to be used for both playing and training purposes. The playing surface was divided into 15 metre grid points to enable accurate commissioning of each individual light fitting. Steven and his team were also able to halve the required spill lighting at surrounding residential dwellings.

“Because there are so many user groups down there it was really rewarding to see the end result. We’ve had some really positive feedback about it too; people have said how much it’s improved the area.

“From our point of view it was great to actually finish the job – sit back and have a look at it and see what we achieved in such a short timeframe. A lot of time and effort that went into it: we were working 16 hour days just trying to make sure we were ahead of schedule and ready for the next day. The process itself was fairly stressful but at the end of the day it’s a terrific outcome for us and the user groups in the shire.”

About Jacob Harris

Jacob Harris

Jacob Harris is a staff writer at Connected Home . When he’s not at work or at home with his family, he can usually be found fly-fishing for trout in local backwaters.

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