Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Building a marine business: Leonie and Felicity

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Now in its 11th year, Vision Environment began operating in 2008 when directors Leonie Andersen and Felicity Melville left their “comfortable, secure jobs at CQUniversity”, as they describe them, to start a marine monitoring business servicing the resources industry. Three months later, the global financial crisis hit.

Thanks to a few long-term contracts and a lot of perseverance, they managed to survive their first year in business. By the time renewals and their second year rolled around, some new projects were coming through the pipeline. They were officially up and running.

As we celebrate World Maritime Day 2019, with its theme of empowering women in the maritime community, it seems apt to ask Leonie and Felicity to share a few secrets to their success.

Right place, right time, right services

“After that, we had the start of the LNG boom,” says Leonie.

“We were in right place at the right time, we met the right people and we provided the right services,” she says.

Felicity adds, “we had amazing growth in our second and third years and we were proud to be able to hire a strong team of local expertise.”

The business started baseline monitoring for British Gas and eventually that program was taken over by Gladstone Ports Corporation as their environmental monitoring program. Vision Environment’s client base continued to grow.

“We began to really cement our reputation for highly accurate real-time data that companies and regulators could rely on,” Felicity says.

Innovate and collaborate

Their success was much more than a fortunate coincidence, of course.

Leonie and Felicity had built up a good business, but it was through introducing new ideas and convincing different parties to work together that they really began to change the way many of Gladstone’s major operators were monitoring.

“We were doing lots of monitoring for companies with overlapping or adjacent sites,” Leonie says.

“So we made a suggestion: why didn’t they all share data?”

Felicity explains there were benefits for the collaborating companies, Vision Environment and, of course, the natural marine habitat around Port Curtis.

“The goal was to help all these companies access a far richer environmental data set and also to improve overall monitoring outcomes,” she says.

“We asked all of these companies to help fund a holistic program, which also enabled us to invest more into our software and equipment, so we could offer the highest quality data collection and presentation.”

Women in maritime

Working in two traditionally male-dominated industries, resources and maritime, Leonie and Felicity have brushed up against their share of gender equality challenges.

Leonie’s advice to younger women (or indeed, anyone!) looking to start a business in these industries is to “know your own strengths and embrace your true self”, she says.

“Back in the boom days, I would turn up to a meeting and I’d often be the only woman there. I’d go dressed in a suit and my look would be quite masculine – which I felt I had to do to make sure I was taken seriously.

“Nowadays, I have the confidence to walk in and say my piece, knowing I have every bit as much experience and expertise as the next person!”

Felicity agrees confidence comes with time, but says women absolutely shouldn’t let it stop them from making a start.

Our three key achievements at Lyttleton Port

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

As we move into our fourth year conducting water quality monitoring for Lyttleton Port of Christchurch, we take a moment to look back over our work as part of New Zealand’s largest dredging project.

In 2016, Vision Environment was contracted to conduct monitoring and ensure environmental compliance for the Lyttleton’s channel deepening, widening and lengthening project. The dredging program was forecast to remove around 18 million cubic metres of spoils from the harbour floor.

“We were involved from the very beginning,” says Leonie Andersen, director at Vision Environment.

“We proposed to help them design a monitoring program that was absolutely world best practice and we were on board before the dredging was even approved to assist with the consent process.”

Assistance with approvals

Lyttleton asked Vision Environment to represent them as their water quality experts throughout the consent process. Something which proved to be invaluable for the port.

Jared Pettersson, project director at Lyttleton, says it was really important to the local and national regulators that their environmental supplier could demonstrate a previous track record.

“Vision Environment was deeply involved in some of the stakeholder consultation. It became very important that we had someone who could say ‘we’ve done that before’,” explains Jared.

“They knew how to solve problems pre-emptively or find solutions pretty quickly when they arose. And they are very responsive,” he says.

“They provided a total solution for collection, processing, and data display and user interface, which was something no-one else really offered.”

Customising equipment

Once approvals were in place, the next major challenge was the tough climatic conditions of the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, says Leonie.

“Our buoys had to be good enough to stand the 70 knot winds that can spring up along that part of the coast line,” she says.

“Especially when considering the extra weight they had to carry, as we needed lots more solar panels and batteries than we would need in Australia.

“We couldn’t find suitable buoys anywhere, so we had to fabricate them. We designed and had custom made four buoys that could hold the weight of these four solar panels.”

Leonie adds they then managed to successfully mobilise three container loads of equipment across the ditch, plus an onsite team.

“It was a big undertaking, but we were able to provide that high quality onsite support despite the fact we were located in another country,” she says.

Real-time management

Another element of customisation came about due to Lyttleton’s monitoring and alert requirements.

“It was the most complicated display we’ve ever done,” says Felicity Melville, also director at Vision Environment.

Vision Environment offers a visual dashboard that helps clients keep track of all their monitoring in real-time.

“Lyttleton needed to show numerous factors in their display,” says Felicity.

“Ultimately, we were able to deliver a dashboard that both the client and the dredge operator could see, which enabled them to manage the dredge between them using real-time data and getting email and text alerts the moment any exceedances occurred.”

Jared concurs. “The data quality and reliability has been excellent for the period they’ve been in the water, which has been a very long time.”

Want to know more?

If you’d like to talk to us more about our work at Lyttleton or how we could bring customised water quality monitoring solutions to your next project, get in touch.

Dashboards Make a Difference at North Queensland Ports

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Getting a three-person team, thousands of dollars of specialised equipment and a customised vessel out on the water in remote northwest Queensland is all in a day’s work for the crew at Vision Environment.

“On the back of previous successful projects at Abbot Point and Hay Point, we were asked by North Queensland Bulk Ports to run environmental monitoring for their Weipa maintenance dredging,” says Leonie Andersen, director at Vision Environment.

“We were able to mobilise rapidly and deliver high quality, real-time data to help them manage potential marine environmental impacts,” she says.

Real-time data for real-time management

It’s just one of the many ways in which Vision Environment adds value for its clients, going above and beyond to tailor its services to meet diverse project needs.

Kevin Kane, senior manager environment and planning at North Queensland Bulk Ports, has relied on Vision Environment for a range of monitoring services at the ports.

“We are committed to protecting the natural environments in which we operate and so we need absolute confidence that we’re getting the most thorough and reliable information.

“To manage a dredge in real time, you need real-time data, and that’s what Vision Environment provides,” he says.

Every ten minutes, Vision Environment’s telemetry buoys collect water quality data and send it up to the cloud. So, six times an hour you have a real-time update, which is plotted on a dashboard that is custom built for the client.

Exceedances in water quality thresholds create immediate alerts, while a traffic light system on the dashboard gives an easy visual overview of the project at any point in time.

Hay Point project

However, you also need transparency throughout the process. It’s another element where Vision Environment sets itself apart, Kevin says.

Earlier this year, Vision Environment worked with North Queensland Bulk Ports to conduct marine monitoring throughout its Hay Point maintenance dredging project. The Vision Environment team ran a rigorous monitoring program with pre-, during and post-dredge phases.

“This project had a lot of awareness from the public and we wanted to make information accessible throughout the process,” says Kevin.

“In addition to developing our internal management software, Vision Environment worked with us to create a public-facing dashboard that also displayed real-time water quality data.

“It was a way of helping us to build trust with the community and to show that we invest in and take seriously our environmental monitoring responsibilities,” he says.

Leonie says “we worked with Kevin and his team to develop a very visual way of reporting on monitoring activities. We even installed a GPS tracker on the dredge vessel, which we plugged into the dashboard, so that people could check online and see where the vessel was at any moment.”

Learn more about Visions Environment’s monitoring services.

VE awarded contract for New Zealand capital works dredge project

Friday, September 16th, 2016

news-imageVE were extremely excited to have been awarded the contract to undertake baseline water quality monitoring for the proposed channel deepening project at Lyttelton Port of Christchurch. The capital program is required to deepen, widen and lengthen the channel to allow larger vessels to access the port. The proposed three year project is expected to result in material being dredged and disposed of at an offshore spoil ground. In order to assist in managing dredge operations and to protect the natural habitat, VE are installing over 14 telemetered (real time) monitoring stations providing data for physchem, weather and current profiling in addition to light logging. VE has established a branch office in Christchurch.

More info can be found here:

LPC Enters Last Phase Before Channel Deepening Project

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) has just started its baseline water quality monitoring program for its proposed Channel Deepening Project, the largest environmental monitoring program ever undertaken for a dredging project in New Zealand.

LPC is planning to dredge the shipping channel in Lyttelton Harbor/Te Whakaraupō to deepen it in preparation for the visits of larger container ships.
Before any dredging can commence LPC must gain resource consent under the Resource Management Act to carry out the dredging and disposal. LPC plans to lodge its application later this month (September) and will request the consent is publicly notified.

The company will install 14 real-time water monitoring buoys throughout Lyttelton Harbor, Port Levy and offshore marine areas to ensure it has continuous live information on water quality. These instruments will collect information over a baseline period, including at least one year prior to dredging, during the proposed dredging, and for a period after completion of dredging.

Information from the sites will enable the proposed dredging operations to be constantly managed and adapted to ensure environmental effects are minimized and fall within anticipated levels.
LPC will invest more than $3 million on its environmental monitoring program, including the installation of the monitoring buoys. Leading marine, estuarine and freshwater consulting company Vision Environment, based in Australia, has been contracted by LPC to implement and manage the water monitoring system.

Parameters such as water turbidity (water clarity), pH, temperature and nutrient levels will be constantly measured during the baseline period.

It is expected that installation of the 14 buoys will continue for the next seven days.

Local Coral Gets Shady

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

coralNew research is being undertaken in Gladstone Harbour to determine how much sunlight local corals need to thrive, by covering them with shades. It is hoped that the outcome of the research will assist in the management of future dredging projects where coral habitats are at risk. Although corals are animals they live closely with algae which are plants and therefore need sunlight to survive. Turbid water caused by flooding or activities such as dredging may reduce the sunlight reaching the coral and therefore could inhibit coral growth.

Lead researcher Dr Ralph Alquezar from Vision Environment (VE) said there was very little known about how much light local species of coral required. “By placing shades over the coral for several weeks and measuring the negative effects of reduced light on the coral, such as bleaching and degradation, we can determine how much light they need to survive and grow.”

By then ensuring this amount of light was available to the coral during a dredging project, the approach could assist in managing the project and protecting the coral from potential degradation. A similar novel approach was implemented to protect seagrass during Western Basin Dredging Project in Gladstone, which resulted in minimal impact from dredging to important seagrass

“In order to minimize the impact to coral during the experiment, only small shards of transplanted coral are covered by the shades” Dr Alquezar said. The shades are placed over the coral by divers who also undertake the regular undersea coral health checks. “At the same time we measure the light under the shades and compare this to unshaded coral”

The research is a self-funded initiative of VE. Phase 1 of the shading experiments were conducted over several months in the Gladstone area. VE researchers are now planning phase 2 of the studies.

VE in top five tenders by dollar value to GRC

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

ValuesGladstone Regional Council has a policy of developing local business and industry as much as it can, while still ensuring that ratepayers are afforded good value for money. As a local company, VE were in the top five tenders by dollar value awarded by GRC for 2015. VE is currently undertaking the Gladstone Desalination Plant Environmental monitoring and Auditing project with a total value of over $1 million.

Read More Information >

Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

QITRC-Gala-Benefit---Vision-Environment2 QITRCVision Environment was proud to sponsor the Quoin Island Gala benefit which was a major fund raising event for the turtle rehabilitation centre located on the island. The target of $20,000 funds raised was reached which will contribute to the cost of basic needs such as food for the turtles. Previously, our region had no dedicated care facility for ill and injured marine turtles. Through the combined efforts of wildlife carers, volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors, QITRC is achieving great things for our endangered sea turtles.

Event Partner IQPC Dredge & Reclamation Conference

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Vision Environment was pleased to be invited to be an event partner for the IQPC Dredge & Reclamation conference held at the Stamford Plaza, Brisbane. The two day conference attracted a number of speakers from major ports, dredge companies and service provider, in addition to holding key strategic workshops. Director Leonie Andersen presented a case study on the environmental monitoring undertaken by VE for the Western Basin Dredge and Disposal Project, Gladstone.

View the full program here.

SETAC Australasia Conference Sponsor

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

A number of Vision Environment research staff are members of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), which is a global non-profit organisation interested in improving and sharing the science of the environment. Vision Environment has sponsored the annual conference for several years with some of the funding going towards supporting student prizes and encouraging participation in the science. In addition VE research staff have been presenting their research at the conference for over ten years, in addition to publishing the works in the SETAC peer reviewed journals.  It was a pleasure once again to support this highly regarded research organisation.

Vision Environment Office Opening

Monday, June 17th, 2013


Vision Environment was pleased to formally open its new digs at 165 Auckland Street.

Utilising local designers and builders, the purpose built complex including offices and laboratories has raised the bar in terms of standards for an environmental company.

View the full story: