Super spectrometer saves time and money

Last Updated : 31 Jul 2019

This month, OurAuckland is meeting some of the people who work 'behind the scenes' to make Tāmaki Makaurau a great place to live.

Auckland Council is undertaking asbestos management surveys as part of its risk management programme of around 3300 council-owned buildings. This work includes collecting and analysing samples from objects suspected of potentially containing asbestos materials.

The council’s process had been to send all samples to an external accredited laboratory for analysis, with the cost of testing the samples ranging from $75 to $300 per sample depending on the technology used, with results could take up to a week.

More than $400,000 saved

This year, we invested in a piece of new technology that enabled us to test samples ourselves. Our ‘Near-Infrared Spectrometer’ was one of only 15 in the world when we purchased it. So far, we have tested around 5500 samples in-house and estimate that we have saved around $400,000 in asbestos related testing to-date!

We have also trained a team of council staff to survey and sample for asbestos as it’s important to invest in our staff and to provide quality advice and continuity of service.

When our contractors are working on council buildings, they often identify items that might have asbestos-containing materials and, as a safety precaution, all work is stopped immediately. Another great outcome is that the results of sample testing are now available much faster.

Faster and more efficient

The council’s General Manager Community Facilities, Rod Sheridan, says our spectrometer saves time and money and reduces contractors’ down-time.

“I believe that working with contractors on-site may be the most significant saving our spectrometer has given us. Previously, it was costly to get the samples tested in an accredited lab and there was considerable cost to put appropriate site controls in place, including stopping work until the results were available,” says Mr Sheridan

“Our spectrometer means we can manage and mitigate risk more effectively by getting council's qualified assessors on-site quickly to confirm or deny the presence of asbestos almost immediately.”

Our super spectrometer will continue to save the council time and money, and with more than half our buildings still to be tested as part of our risk management programme, we know it will make a huge difference to ensuring delivery of quality council services.

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