Was 2017 a great year?

2017 Multiplex tower cranes

2017 Multiplex tower cranes




2017 has been a successful year, my first taste of success was back in May. I wrote about Hutchinson Builders tower cranes dominating Brisbane’s skyline. The article was received so well that it would go on to become my most read article of 2017.

2017 a series of firsts for The Travelling Builder

My first interview was with Heath from Heath Nicholson Builders about their Round House project.

Four smart toilets in a lineAnd the first filmed interview for The Travelling Builder Show goes to Kevin from True Blue Building Solutions. Kevin and his smart toilets would be the most viewed episode of the series with over 1700 views.

Following on from Kevin, I was able to interview Donna from Colour By Design, Jim from Starbuck Excavations, Heath from Heath Nicholson Builders and Ken from Bread Builders.

2017 stand out companies

Stepping away from the screen, the standout companies I have written about would be Holly and Marc from Clem carpentry and Rou from Fix It Up Shopfitting.

Raimondi flat top crane over top of a construction siteAs the year progressed, against good advice, I followed my heart and went on a hike. That hike had me walking my way around Melbourne taking photos of Raimondi tower cranes.

That one excursion has opened a countless number of doors and international recognition for The Travelling Builder.

And now here we are a few days into what is already shaping up to be a massive 2018. This year will see The Travelling Builder go from a small blog to a leading, reputable media outlet for the construction industry.

Thank you so much for being a part of The Travelling Builder’s journey in 2017. I wish everyone a prosperous and happy 2018.

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Asian Hercules III and Vattenfall’s EOWDC, huh?

Asian Hercules III at sea
Asian Hercules III at sea
Image by Vattenfall




Do you want to lift something heavy? Maybe you are looking to build an offshore wind farm? Well, you are in luck, the infamous Asian Lift company based in Singapore can help.

The Swedish power company Vattenfall has been working hard to develop and construct their European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC).

EOWDC location in Aberdeen BayTo summarise, the EOWDC wind farm is not cheap, to a tune of AUD 0.5 billion. Located around three kilometres off the coast of Scotland in Aberdeen Bay. EOWDC will be able to supply 23% of Aberdeen’s total power demand. The EOWDC is effectively a testing ground for the next generation of offshore wind farm technologies.

How big is Asian Hercules III?

And this is where the Asian Lift company comes in with their Asian Hercules III floating crane. Asian Hercules III is massive at 25 000 tonnes and has a lifting capacity of 5 000 tonnes. Making the floating crane perfect for Vattenfall’s EOWDC as the foundations are 77 meters tall and weigh in at 1,800 tonnes. For perspective that makes each of the eleven foundations weigh around the same weight as ten Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

 

Asian Hercules III lift chart
Image screen grab copyright Asian Lift

Some of the notable specs of this floating crane are; it has a maximum reach of 120m and is still able to lift a hefty 550 tonnes. Under full load, luffing might take a while as the luffing speed is 1m per minute. And hoisting is 2m per minute at full lifting capacity, so time best be on your side.

 

For the full specs and lifting chart, I have attached a copy of their information sheet.

Asian Hercules III is an ocean-going vessel that can accommodate up to 45 crew members. I am sure this will come into play while on assignment for the next four to six months in Aberdeen Bay region.

And for those that would like to track Asian Hercules III movements you can by heading over to fleetmon.com.

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SMCH, a new approach to looking after employees

SMCH mobile crane hire

SMCH mobile crane hire




SMCH yard and mobile crane
Image by: SMCH

Sometimes something different happens, and I am sure this doesn’t happen all too often. Earlier this week I was approached by a group of people that want to show their gratitude for their boss. They asked if I would write an article about their boss Shane, and his company SMCH.

And here we are, I am writing, and you are reading. Shane this one is for you, you have a great bunch of employees. This article is a credit to you and your business.

SMCH Favco on hire
Image by: Shane

Let’s start at the beginning, Shane has 20 employees, and no one knows how he got into crane hire and fabrication. However, SMCH started it all with the introduction of the 20t Franna.

After the 20t Franna introduction, they went on to produce a 25t version. It wasn’t too long, and they started to manufacture the Kato NK 300. Due to business growth, the need for a yard crane became critical to the fabrication side of the business. So, they built their first tower crane, the Favco STD 750. With the new yard crane, they were able to start constructing a variety of tower cranes which are now available for wet and dry hire.

SMCH begins manufacturing tower cranes

Getting to where SMCH is today took some large-scale capital investments, to which the guys are thankful. They had concerns when Shane first announced his plans to manufacture tower cranes. At the time, they had no welder, forklift or trucks to collect all the required parts and materials.

working under umbrellas
Image by: Shane

With the continual growth that SMCH has experienced over the last few years, they have continued the well thought out capital investments. First came the purchase of a nearby hotel keeping everyone hydrated, and umbrellas to help beat the Australian summer heat. However, the guys are concerned about the umbrellas as Shane might want them to work in the rain now that they have this shelter option.

SMCH show room
Image by: Shane

Shane’s approach to safety is second to none and is evident in the way that SMCH have had no incidents in the last few years. SMCH pride themselves on how they can undertake work that other contractors might hesitate over.

Heading into 2018, Shane’s Model Crane Hire has already secured an order for two new motorised tower cranes. According to the team, they are expecting big things for 2018.

Shane’s Model Crane Hire – Facebook: @shanesmodelcranes

Shane’s Model Crane Hire – Instagram: @shanoes_miniatures

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Getting off the tools? Be careful

Twisties chips, crisps




Twisties chips, crisps, getting off the tools

Why you ask?

Food. Food will likely become your biggest necessary evil.

While on the tools, there is nothing better for smoko (lunch) than a big greasy hamburger, a side of chips and a soft drink. As we eat, we all sit around joking about how we will get fat if we keep eating this way. Who cares, we work hard, sweat our butts off, we will be fine.

Famous last words those ones. Those words did come back to haunt me. The first time I got off the tools, I had six employees.  I don’t think more than a few months had passed before my lovely brothers pointed out how much my waistline had grown.

It happens to just about everyone

Which raises an interesting point, talk to most people that have moved on from the tools into a hands-off role, there is a similar theme. Speaking with Tim a carpenter who worked his way to being a construction manager, said that he had put on a few kilos as well. He said that he had to sort out his eating habits and jokes with the guys on site about where he has found himself.

Food on a table

The crazy thing, we joke about putting on the extra weight if we keep eating the way we do while on the tools. But it still catches a lot of us out.

Damien, a formwork carpenter, turned project manager who was a competitive powerlifter, had a few lessons in store for himself. “I couldn’t eat nearly as much junk, or the quantities and I had to make a conscious effort to drink enough.”

Talking with Nathan from Citi Industries, he was one of the lucky ones that managed to go the other way and turn to a healthier way of eating.

Just remember that if you are looking to get off the tools and move over to a less physically demanding role, beware of your eating habits. Which is easier said than done, ask anyone that has made the jump.

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Hectic? Try running a concrete plant

concrete pump hose with concrete coming out




Commercial site suspended deck preparationA few days ago, I was catching up with some friends and ran into a product manager for a concrete supply company. We shared a few stories, and I got an insight into what it is to run a concrete batching plant.

We all know what it takes to prep and pour concrete, I know some of the seasoned guys out there will have heard all this before. None the less, please bear with me while I paint a picture for everyone.

Leading up to concrete pour day

You have booked the 4th floor suspended concrete slab with 300m of concrete seven days from now. You have the block layers building the last wall on level three, with core fill tomorrow afternoon with the form workers starting in the morning.

We all know booking a concrete pour with any significant volume is an educated guess at best.

As the site team, the pressure is on leading up to the pour day and providing everything goes to plan we will have half a chance to breathe. The only things to worry about is the concrete arriving, and the concrete pump doesn’t break down.

On the day of the pour, the first truck arrives, then the second, followed by the third truck and they continue coming into the morning. Then the trucks stop, we are on the phone with our concrete supplier, “where’s our concrete, we have been waiting for 20-minutes for the next truck”?

Tensions start adding up; it’s a scorching hot day. Concreters are screaming at us; the concrete pump is getting ready to recirculate the line hoping it’s not going to block. We wait five long minutes, the phone rings, the next truck is five minutes away.

The truck arrives, and we are on, two more followed right behind parking along the street waiting their turn to unload. Game on, we are halfway, and its only 11 am, perfect, might even get home early today.

We know tomorrow is going to be full on again getting everything ready for the next concrete pour. When this pour has finished, we can take the afternoon to catch up, if that is at all possible in this game.

Organised chaos, the concrete batching plant

Placing concreteWhat about the concrete plant? They will be doing the same thing again tomorrow, and the day after that. And I thought our job could be hectic. Haha, I had a lesson on how a high-intensity job looks.

I will go over a few numbers, to help paint this picture, keep hanging in there with me.

Forgive me if I get some of the numbers incorrect, but here we go.

The plant can produce approximately 200m of concrete per hour, however, can only store enough raw materials to produce 80m of concrete at any one time.

There are 10-12 trucks allotted to the batching plant, which each truck can carry around 7m of concrete on average.

A truck’s loading time is 5 to 7 minutes, again sometimes more, sometimes less.

There are 60 minutes in an hour, that is 12 loads of concrete out the door per hour to a total of 144m give or take.

A truck can do about ten deliveries per day, that equates to around 840m with all the trucks combined.

The plant has three big concrete pours on that day; your pour at 300m, another one on the other side of the city with 200m and finally one around the corner from you of 180m. Also, each, pour has a different mix of concrete.

You are on a two truck feed, one truck every 5-minutes. The 200m pour site has a single truck feed on a 10-minute turnaround.  And the last 180m pour site is on a single truck feed as well with a 10-minute turnaround. That is four trucks every 10-minutes to unload not including the three trucks to begin all the pours.

Are you lost in the numbers yet? The numbers get better.

Your 300m site and the 200m site are both a 15-minutes drive away from the batching plant with no traffic. The last 180m site is 10-minutes away from the plant.

Like most cities, the peak hour traffic is currently adding 10-minutes to the travel time for the trucks. As we are pouring in the city, we are not able to park any waiting trucks along the street until after 9:30 am.

Let’s say all the pours are booked with a 7 am start time. How do you send out your trucks? Which trucks go where? Do you have three trucks on rotation for any particular pour site?

Just like you, I have no idea. The above is a typical day for the concrete plant.

Masters of communication

Concrete truck unloading

The way it was described to me, the plant operators are continually talking to the truck drivers and checking on traffic. You also have to keep on top of the raw materials. Remember, that the plant can only store up to 80m of raw materials on site at any one time. Oh, don’t forget that each concrete pour has a different mix of concrete when you are ordering your raw materials, and when the trucks are backing up to the batching stand.

Yep, game on my friends. I forgot to mention the seven other jobs booked in for that morning as well. They are only small house slabs of 50m & 60m and a few driveways all starting between 7 am, and 9 am.

At this point, I gave in, forget that for a job. I know that these guys do it for a living and there is a method to their madness. The batching plant operators are masters of communication.

The pressure that we go through leading up to a concrete pour, they do that day in and day out. Up until this encounter, I took concrete delivery for granted, especially when the trucks would turn up on time. But when the concrete trucks stopped, I was never too concerned what was happening at the plant.  I was always halfway through my pour.

I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times that I forget that we are all in this together. We all have our roles to play, and without all of us developing our skills, the madness we call construction wouldn’t happen at the breakneck speeds we have achieved. It’s almost like we are the victims of our own success.

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