Alex McWhinnie | Lyttelton Port of Christchurch

 

Alec McWhinnie

Port Engineer

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch

 

What does your role entail and what does your company do?
I am part of our internal engineering and project management team. As such we deal with a range of projects with my predominant focus being on the maintenance of our existing port structures and infrastructure. Lyttelton Port is New Zealand’s 3rd largest port and the largest in the South Island. As such we are an important gateway for both import and export products for the wider Canterbury region and the South Island as a whole.

What has been your favorite corrosion project that you have worked on and why?
Prior to coming to LPC I worked for Abseil Access, based in Wellington and was involved in coordinating a number of corrosion monitoring and repair projects on a variety of structures from rail viaducts to hydro power station tailrace pipes. All of these presented unique challenges. More recently as a result of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the port had to undertake a lot of rapid repair work to keep the port operational and ensure plant a material could get to Christchurch. Recently we have also had completed the first major rebuild wharf project which includes a modern multi-zonal CP system. The exciting challenge before us now is in maintaining these assets, whose ages range from 100+ y/o to present day. A key component of that is understanding the effect the earthquakes have had on their long-term durability and what the appropriate corrosion prevention and mitigation strategies are.

What are the important corrosion related issues facing industry/your business today?
Like many large asset intensive businesses the biggest challenge in front of us is how to maximize the life of our key assets in a fiscally responsible way so as to provide security to our port operations (and thus customers). Bearing in mind that we are undertaking this in an environment where the demands on these structures from modern shipping operations is only increasing and you can see the challenge we face.

Why are you a member of the ACA?
Given my focus on asset management, outside of “one off” events, I feel corrosion is the greatest threat to the longevity of our assets. I feel the ACA provides a wealth of knowledge on corrosion from the theoretical to the practical (the latter being of particular interest to someone working for an asset owner like me). In my relatively short time as a member I’ve attended the ACA seminar on the corrosion and protection of reinforced concrete structures and found it to be of immediate practical use. I also like being part of an organization that is very active in the way it interacts with its members.

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