Opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle are always top of mind for the team responsible for maintaining maritime assets for the Department of Transport in Western Australia.

Whether it's recycling assets like batteries and navigational aid casings or adopting technology that will extend the life of assets, Project Manager Pierre Cassian and his team are always seeking ways to improve outcomes, reduce emissions, save time and resources and generally just do things better than they've been done before.

Pierre says being proactive in their approach is key to saving the client money and to improving environmental outcomes.

We bring ideas to our client that we think will offer value.

"Sometimes the benefit on one asset isn't huge, but when you apply that across hundreds of assets, it can make a big difference."

Two of the initiatives they implemented over several years now include the extension of life of the casing on navigational aids and then the recycling of them once they are no longer viable, and recycling the batteries inside these aids.

The navigational aids are essentially the maritime version of the lights on a runway at an airport, and/or to identify hazards within or below the water line, Pierre explains.

"They are typically red or green, and the aim is to navigate (sail) between them for safety as you're coming into a harbour or waterway."

Some of these aids are on poles that are driven into the riverbed, and some are attached to buoys, which are in turn anchored in place.

These aids are inspected generally annually, and if the casing isn't damaged or discolored, then it can be cleaned and reinstalled.

Department of Transport Western Australian lights on water

Several years ago, if the navigational aid's casing was discoloured, the whole unit would be discarded. Now, Pierre says we can take them back to the workshop and refurbish them, by polishing the outer acrylic casing and replacing the battery. This helps achieve a minimum of two lifecycles of the unit and in some instances, they last up to 12 years, depending on their location and how much direct sunlight they receive.

"When the casing eventually reaches the end of its life, it goes to a recycler for repurposing," Pierre says.

The last batch we sent was 131kg of casings, so that's a lot of plastic that won't end up in landfill.

Other resource saving initiatives

The team are also field-testing the use of an external monitoring device to keep an eye on performance and help reduce resource use. The sensor indicates whether the light came on and stayed on all night.

"Having access to this data will help reduce the number of call outs we get," Pierre explains.

"When boaters spot a navigational light that's out, they typically report this to our client and we need to send out a vessel and 2-3 people to check on it."

"With this remote capability if we know in advance that a light is running low on battery output or out, we can make the repair or replacement as part of a regular run, avoiding unnecessary trips."

Pierre says the team will continue to keep an eye out for opportunities to innovate in line with our strategy to redefine service excellence for our clients.