Service connections are the neglected cousins of utility services. But while failure of an individual service connection may cause little more than an isolated inconvenience, the sheer number of service connections and their importance in connecting service users to the main system means that a seismic event has potential to cause widespread service disruption that has an immediate impact on the public, on service users and on service providers.
Detailed assessment of several thousand contractor repair records from New Zealand has helped reveal how and where different customer connections failed in actual seismic events. The interpretation of these findings has been supported by selected laboratory testing and modelling to better understand how the observed damage occurred and to what extent it can be managed or avoided.
The findings revealed some unexpected patterns of behaviour and required a rethink of previous understanding of the role of materials selection, design and installation practices on connection resilience. The improved understanding of what really happens between the network and the customers will contribute to practical guidance that is being prepared to assist asset managers and other industry practitioners improve system resilience as part of this research programme.