Amaroo Sewer Tunnel


Scope of Supply

Northern Light Technologies deployed a wireless solution that extended Wi-Fi coverage deep into the Amaroo Sewer Tunnel, ensuring that vital voice communications could be maintained. NLT’s NetPort-able Wireless Access Points (WAPs) seamlessly meshed together to establish the WLAN and extend the coverage into longer tunnel sections as required.

Site Detail

The Amaroo and Lockerbie Main Sewer Projects are designed to provide critical sewerage infrastructure servicing proposed developments between Craigieburn and Wallan in Melbourne’s Northern Growth Corridor, constructing approximately 18 kilometres of main sewerage pipelines.

Project Challenges

Pipe jacking operations are typically difficult sites to employ traditional systems used to provide and maintain reliable voice communications. The Amaroo Sewer Tunnel project was experiencing the same issues. The confined area, amount of equipment, and development nature of the project presents difficulties for traditional RF radio and wired communications solutions.

John Holland, a major Australian engineering contractor company working on the venture, partnered with Northern Light Technologies (NLT) to implement their rapidly deployable Wi-Fi Voice Communications as a reliable solution. In addition to being more cost effective than traditional methods, the solution needed to provide reliable high quality communications that would ultimately achieve higher productivity and less downtime.

John Holland was completing pipe jacking tunnels 1600mm ID, up to lengths of 785 metres. They required communications to be available along the entire pipe length. The main challenge was the small diameter, with many obstructions along the tunnel string.

Project Details

After visiting the site and consulting with John Holland, NLT determined a portable wireless solution was required to meet the project’s needs.

The NLT NetPort-able Wireless Access Point was chosen to provide Wi-Fi throughout the approximately 800 metres of tunnel and shaft entries. As distributor and channel partner with iCom Australia, NLT supplied the IP100H IP two-way handsets.

With the transmitter, receiver, batteries, and antennae all housed within a single rugged carrying case, installing the NetPort-able was simple: carry the case to the area, and turn it on. The NetPort-able WAPs wirelessly meshed together to establish the WLAN and extend the coverage into longer tunnel sections as required.

The WLAN enabled the iCom IP100H handsets to deliver constant and clear voice communications throughout the operation. Because the compact and rugged handsets are operated identically to a traditional two-way radio, they were quickly and easily adopted by staff.

The initial solution was deployed on a leased trial basis, with NLT supporting John Holland throughout the project to ensure the final solution was fit for purpose and met all of their needs.

With minimal hardware, no infrastructure installation, and familiar handset operation, only very basic introduction training was required from NLT to fully familiarise the John Holland team with the new communication system.

“The NLT Wi-Fi Voice Communications System has been successful and, most importantly, is simple to use without additional cables. The communications are now used for each tunnel entry.”

– Cameron Woodgate


The easy installation and coverage provided by the NetPort-able WLAN system, plus the intuitive operation and clarity of the iCom IP100H handsets, delivered a solution that significantly reduced the time required to establish vital voice communications.

Additionally, performance and ease of use was greater than originally estimated. The overall result to John Holland provided up front cost savings on hardware, plus ongoing operational efficiency and cost reductions.

“NLT have been great to work with, and willing to assist throughout the trial and commissioning phases. NLT was also happy to make amendments and improvements as trials onsite continued. John Holland is happy with the performance of NLT and recommends their solution for similar applications.”

– Cameron Woodgate