As part of the Southern Precinct Program, the new Terminal 4 at Melbourne Airport was the first terminal in the world to open as a completely self-service check-in operation.

The airport and terminal is operated and managed by Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne) P/L (APAM). This was our first major commission with APAM and led to involvement in a number of smaller projects allied to the main engagement.

The $340 million project included the construction of a new Pier G and cross concourse linking the 25,000 m² terminal and aircraft parking bays.

APAM was seeking a LEED Certification for the project and ECS was appointed as the Commissioning Authority. The engagement was a challenging one as we were appointed part way through the construction phase and had to pull the project together in a very short period of time. Stakeholder engagement was problematic at the start but through collaboration and constant communication we were able to get the commissioning back on track to a successful conclusion.

Our close liaison with APAM along with their strong support enabled us to drive the commissioning process. The assistance from the project manager DCWC was also of great benefit in bringing the project to a successful conclusion from a commissioning point of view. The trade contractors also understood what we were trying to achieve and collaborated.

Apart from our Commissioning Authority role to deliver the mandatory Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems credit, ECS was able to provide input to the Enhanced Commissioning and Measurement and Verification credits for additional points towards the LEED Certification.

A new challenge for us was to develop ORAT (Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition) test scripts in order to understand the public interaction with the systems in the terminal. We wrote the scripts and did live testing of the terminal systems with 20 volunteers from the airport. It was a great experience to see how the volunteers went about entering the terminal and approaching the check in equipment with us monitoring the operation. The great realisation we had about ORAT was that it could be applied to any operation that requires a process to be tested. The principles could be applied across many industries.

The new Terminal 4 project was an exciting and challenging project for ECS Melbourne as it was the first airport terminal project we were engaged for and it exposed us to LEED and ORAT requirements for the first time. There were many lessons learnt which will hold us in good stead for any future aviation transport projects.

The development of the Southern Precinct is part of the master development program for the airport and the new terminal now provides modern amenities for a capacity of 10 million passengers per year with technologically advanced check-in and baggage handling systems.