Students' barrier backed by industry
An innovative new flood gate design but Queensland students is on its way to mass production.
A portable flood barrier system is being developed from the winning design of a QUT student team, after it was chosen by Sydney-based company Flood Solutions Advisory Group (FSAG) for testing and production.
Dozens of third-year students formed 13 teams to present ideas to FSAG for a temporary levy that could be used by Queensland communities in low-lying areas.
“Their brief was to design a flood barrier system that could be easily and quickly deployed to flood-prone areas, with high usability and maintenance values for the communities,” said QUT senior lecturer Dr Marianella Chamorro-Koc.
“It had to offer a competitive and cost-effective value proposition in comparison to other systems on the market, and be viable for local manufacturing using local materials.”
The winning team – Floodline – came up with a lightweight, highly portable and simple design that after some testing, will go into manufacture in Brisbane.
“Our team first presented an idea each and then we looked at manufacturing techniques to see which was most viable. We went from cutting up a shoebox, to laser cutting cardboard and then acrylic before making our final design in aluminium,” said Floodline team member Connor Crawford.
“We did a lot of concept drawings because the challenge was to do it with one piece. I was thinking about Lego and how it clicks into place with one universal design,” team mate Narisson Irlen said.
“We also went on some industry tours and workshops to get an idea of how it could be made and got help from our engineering tutors to calculate if our barrier would be strong enough and where the weak points were.”
FSAG director Keith Jackson said the company had commissioned the competition to find a better, simpler flood barrier to improve community protection in time of flood.
“We have supplied expensive imported temporary levies in the past, however it has always been our goal to bring a locally designed and manufactured alternative to market, given we already make 90 per cent of our other flood protection products in Australia
“We wanted a better system with fewer parts - easier to assemble once taken to deployment areas.
“It had to cost a lot less than imported temporary levees, be made locally from mainly local materials and importantly, create jobs for Queenslanders.
“QUT students’ ideas all met our design brief and the quality of thinking in their solutions was just superb.
“We chose the Floodline design because it met the key criteria of the design brief perfectly – simplicity, sustainability, cost efficiency, usability."
Mr Jackson said the winning design could be quickly brought in and installed in many situations. He gave the example of a typical town next to a river.
“An efficient portable flood protection system deployed only when required could be a viable alternative to a permanent levee – and be less costly for the community.”
“The next step is to take the Floodline concept to production prototypes and put them into simulated flood conditions at our test facility in Sydney and then talk to Brisbane steel fabricators about getting the barrier into production,” he said.
“A lot of academic design projects are purely hypothetical – this QUT project is the opposite, it’s a real-world project that is highly likely to become an important part of the flood protection landscape in Australia.
“We intend to develop this flood barrier system into an Australian designed and Australian made product for the domestic and overseas flood protection markets.”