Ready to race

For almost a decade ISS Facility Services has provided road sweeping and mechanical scrubbing services for the internationally renowned Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, which recorded its largest ever attendance this year.

The estimated four-day crowd figure of 324,100 fans was the highest recorded attendance since 2005 for the annual motor race, which has taken place at Melbourne’s Albert Park since 1996.

The Australian Grand Prix is the second oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia. Prior to its inclusion in the World Championship in 1985, it was held at various venues in every state of Australia.

The Grand Prix Circuit is a street circuit around Albert Park Lake, south of central Melbourne. Each year, most of the trackside fencing, pedestrian overpasses, grandstands and other motorsport infrastructure are erected two months prior to the Grand Prix weekend.

During this time, ISS Facility Services deploys a road sweeper every Friday afternoon for approximately three hours to clear and clean the circuit and surrounding roads and shared paths.

ISS Facility Services Victoria’s sweeping operations manager Fabrice Ferre says it is imperative any mess made by equipment and vehicles utilised on site during the set-up process is cleaned.

“In the lead-up to the week of the races, many social and sporting activities continue to take place in the Albert Park precinct, so it is imperative any mess made by equipment and vehicles utilised on site during the set-up process is cleaned and the area is presentable to the general public for the upcoming weekend,” he said.

During the pre-event sweeping ISS collects up to two tonnes of waste. “There can be a lot of garden and landscaping material spilt on paths in the establishment stages. On race days, the amount is negligible as only the circuit is swept and that can be for only grass clippings, loose stone, gravel and leaves.”

On the Tuesday night prior to the race days on the Thursday through to Sunday, ISS assists washing the circuit. This is performed through the use of a truck-type water tanker, with suitable spray discharge equipment and two road sweepers fitted with nylon bristles.

On race day ISS Facility Services deploy four road sweepers to sweep in a staggered formation around the track to cover as much ground as possible from 6:00am.

The machines are then positioned on stand-by at nominated corners [in the precinct] to sweep away any debris that is too large for manual removal.

ISS staff spend round 16 to 18 hours in total cleaning the tracks, with staff also on stand-by after hours for any incidental sweeping required.

“In 2018 heavy rains on the Saturday afternoon caused large messes around the walking paths,” said Ferre. “ISS was there sweeping blown debris and mud from these paths overnight so patrons and personnel could walk or ride about unhindered on the main race day.”

Post event, Ferre says ISS is actively relied upon to maintain the tracks and surrounding areas whilst the dismantling and re-opening of the roads occurs, which takes up to six weeks.

“As barriers and equipment are moved and the roads are returned to their former state of operation, the mess left behind is swept so as to provide the desired aesthetic appearance,” he said.

The ISS staff comprises of 11 qualified operators who alternate shifts throughout the duration of the event. On racing days, there is four staff onsite.

“All staff are fully trained and competent in driving the road sweepers. They are provided with maps of the circuit and surrounding areas, so they know where they need to be if called upon. They need to know exact locations and be familiar with the actual circuit.”

The principal contractor in conjunction with the Grand Prix committee provides ISS with a schedule, advising when ISS staff is to attend and what areas are to be swept.

“Generally, this details the performance levels that the sweepers have to meet with respect to the different type of matter to be collected – sand, dirt, gravel, grass clippings, stones, nuts and bolts etc – and the speed at which we are to operate at,” said Ferre.

“Conditions are also placed as to the state of each road sweeper, that they be modern, presentable, clean and fully maintained.”

ISS uses four main sweepers throughout the event, including a Macdonald Johnston VT650, VT605, RT655 and Schwarze A6500.

The VT650 and VT605 sweepers feature a 6.3 cubic metre hopper, 1500 litre water tank and a 3600mm wide sweep path. The trucks have dual sweeping functionality and are fitted with 1300mm centre broom and two 700mm gutter brooms to handle a variety of sweeping conditions.

The RT655 regenerative air suction sweeper features a 6.3 cubic metre hopper, 900 litre water tank, 220 litre fuel tank and two 1000mm gutter brooms with a multi-positioning ‘Rotatilt’ system.

Dust suppression sprays are located within the suction nozzle, forward of the gutter brooms and across the front of the vehicle reducing dust emissions.

The Schwarze A6500 is a chassis mounted, regenerative air street sweeper with Increased hopper capacity for increased production. The truck features a noise reduction shroud, increasing the operator’s ability to operate in noise sensitive areas. The truck’s gutter brooms ensure the machine’s versatility in various applications, while eliminating the need for a centre broom.

Each of the mechanical road sweepers used are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliant and fitted with a global tracking and scheduling system to protect workers, as well as provide better monitoring and reporting.

In the last 10 years, the incorporation of GPS technology into the ISS operating systems has proven invaluable to operations. This technology has had numerous benefits including operational and maintenance tracking, integration with large infrastructure systems, automated downloading and improved reporting mechanisms.

Reversing incidents are primarily the major cause of accidents, injury and death within the sweeping industry. Reverse Smart technology has been rolled out in the ISS sweeping fleet.

This device is a very simple, but technologically advanced system, which actively protects the public, workers, vehicles and other assets at the rear of the vehicle and does all of this without interfering with the vehicles intended daily operation.

The Reverse Smart system is only powered on once a vehicle is placed in reverse gear. When the systems radar sensors detect an object or person that is within the danger zone behind the vehicle, the unit will immediately and automatically activate the vehicles brakes – without any driver input required.

Being such a high traffic area with pedestrians, vehicles, cranes, bikes and buggies, ISS road sweepers have to watch where their brooms are located and what might be collected, as well as be aware of and anticipate the moves of everything around them.

“There are so many factors [our sweepers] need to be aware of. Staff need to be able to anticipate movements to overcome these challenges.”

This article first appeared in the May/June issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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