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The creator of a new claw innovation to remove build up of materials from pump stations has won the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA) Problem Accepted Solution Supplied (PASS) award.

TasWater Water Services Operator, Matthew Holz, is the second TasWater employee in a row to take out this award.

The award, which provides an opportunity for water industry operational staff to share their innovations and solutions to others in the water industry, was presented in Tamworth at the 14th annual New South Wales WIOA Conference.

Mr Holz was nominated for the award by his peers for his pump station claw innovation.

“In my previous role, I was working across several pump stations in the network,” Mr Holz said.

“In that line of work, a lot of the time we need to remove rags and other non-flushable items that build up at the pump stations.”

“Previously, we would have to manually remove these items ourselves, using long rakes or hooks.

“I saw online that another utility was using a hydraulic claw device on the end of an excavator to remove a two-tonne fatberg from one of their pump stations, and I wanted to be able to implement something similar at TasWater to remove the manual handling aspect.”

From there, Mr Holz designed a claw that could be attached to the small cranes which are on the back of TasWater’s service delivery vehicles.

The claw uses a scissoring motion to grab the non-flushable items without cutting or breaking the clump. As the claw lifts, the scissor action causes the clamp to grab tighter as the weight is taken up.

“That’s where it stemmed from, we came up with a design, we had a prototype and it worked straight away,” Mr Holz said.

“Before we implemented the claw, at our Sandy Bay pump station in particular, we would spend time each week trying to break up and remove non-flushable build ups, now that time has been drastically reduced.

“It also makes the removal process a lot safer for our crews.”

Flushing wet wipes, sanitary items and other items risk blocking both the household pipes as well as TasWater’s sewerage system.

For winning the award, Mr Holz will travel to New Zealand in May 2023 for an all-expenses-paid WIOA operator tour.

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