Management reshuffle at Leighton

David Stewart’s promotion, effective from July 1, will see him join existing Leighton COO Bill Wild. Wild stays in his role, meaning the company would have two COOs.Stepping into Stewart’s vacated managing director position at John Holland will be Glenn Palin, who is currently the subsidiary company’s chief operating officer for construction. Palin will also take up his new role on July 1.In further changes, Laurie Voyer, currently deputy managing director of Leighton Contractors, will be relocating to Dubai, initially reporting to Leighton International managing director David Savage. Leighton said Voyer would subsequently be appointed managing director of Leighton’s operations in the Gulf region after an appropriate transitional period. Leighton International’s Indonesian activities have also been transferred to Leighton Asia, which the company said would better align the geography of the market with the management of the group’s operations in Asia.

A third of NSW construction companies breached law: audit

The Workplace Ombudsman said its federal inspectors checked the books of 272 construction businesses throughout the Sydney metropolitan area and found that 83 employers (or 31%) were non-compliant, mostly because of minor record-keeping and pay slip breaches.Workplace Ombudsman NSW director Ross Drysdale says $22,000 in back pay has been recouped for 88 employees who were inadvertently underpaid.Drysdale said the underpayments were the result of a small number of employers failing to pass on the October 2008 increase in the federal minimum wage or to pay other casual loadings. He said his office decided to take no further action against the companies because employers had been quick to voluntarily rectify all issues.“This campaign has identified a high level of compliance and most employers had good record-keeping practices,” Drysdale said.“However, employers should be aware that we take breaches of workplace laws seriously. Employers can be penalised up to $33,000 per breach if the matter proceeds to court.“We will be conducting further audits in the NSW construction industry in the future.”

Equipment longevity in a vacuum

Uneeda Vac managing director Michael Herrett told CIN Rio Tinto commissioned the Melbourne-based, family-owned business to build a vacuum cleaner for its large equipment that had the capability to self empty and clean, and could run off a 24-volt battery. The vacuum also had to be rugged enough to handle the harsh mine environment.“We visited the West Angelas mine several times to research and design the vacuum,” Herrett said.“During the design stage we had Rio Tinto contact us again to enquire about also designing an industrial vacuum for its substations at Dampier.“The Dampier idea led to the birth of the 240-volt model of the SEIV.”The company now produces two models of the vacuum, the SEIV640 for dump trucks, excavators and large equipment for any mining application, including coal mining, and the SEIV1500 for substations, offices and accommodation. However, Herrett says this is not the limit and the design is adaptable to any environment.The SEIV640 takes its name from the 640-watt motor that powers it, while the SEIV1500 is powered by a 1500W motor.The SEIV640 has a 24V three-stage tangential bypass motor, mounted in the top section of the unit, that keeps any fine dirt from entering the electrical system of the motor. The top of the unit is fitted with a Donaldson precleaner to prevent dirt entering through the cooling fan. The SEIV640 is mounted externally and ducted into the cabin of the machine via an inlet. A switch is provided on the inlet or mounted on the dashboard of the vehicle.The SEIV1500 is fitted with a 240V, 1500W, two-stage tangential bypass motor and a Donaldson precleaner. The SEIV1500 is set up like a ducted vacuum system in any residential home, but upon finishing will self empty.Herrett said both vacuums were made from 1.2 mild steel, with a steel-mounting bracket that is bolted to the chassis of the equipment or can be fitted externally to buildings as required.The total length of an SEIV is 74cm by 26cm in diameter and it weighs 14kg.“This is not a large machine, only slightly longer than your standard commercial backpack vacuum cleaner,” Herrett said.He explained in the base of the SEIV, under the motor, was a V-shaped self-cleaning denim filter that had been proven tested to not allow any dirt to pass through. “In the bottom of the base is a self-closing, sealed flap that is weighted to close when the machine is turned on and opens again when the machine is switched off, in turn emptying out the dirt,” Herrett said.“The base can also be fitted with an attachment to secure a drainage hose to allow dirt to move around other parts of the machinery.”Herrett says he believes there is nothing on the market that comes close to the Uneeda Vac SEIV and it will outlast other machines four to one.“On studying vacuums presently being used in the mining industry, we found they were made from plastic and made only for commercial cleaning of offices, schools and the like,” he said.“These plastic units are made with the motor in the base of the vacuum cleaner, filtered by a fine material bag and because the dirt is so fine, it is sucked through the material bag into the motor area and into the electrical section of the motor.“This typical vacuum method will destroy one of these machines in less than six months.“The plastic units do not empty themselves either, they rely on the driver at the end of a 12-hour shift to want to, or even remember to, empty the vacuum bag.“The SEIV will never need manual emptying and will only need maintenance once every 12 months.”Rather than destroy a machine, the SEIV640 fitted to a dump truck or excavator will increase the life span of all the electrical equipment and switches in the cabin, Herrett said.The SEIV will also provide a healthier environment for the driver and decrease maintenance, and therefore costs, on the truck. Herrett said Rio Tinto fitted its first SEIV640 to a Hitachi EX5500 excavator early last month and would be fitting its second unit shortly. Rio Tinto has already indicated it would continue to fit the vacuums to all new and existing equipment across its operations. Likewise, LeTourneau Technologies Australia is installing the SEIV640 on all new equipment and gradually introducing the units on large equipment already in use out in the field.SEIVs have been delivered to HWE Mining, BHP Billiton, WesTrac and Hitachi for trials and are available in Western Australia through CMPS Supply Solutions.The distributor for South Australia and the Northern Territory is Northern Agencies in Whyalla.

WA builder fined $40K for untrained tilt-up work

WorkSafe WA said the company, Hanssen, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and was fined $20,000 on each charge in the Perth Magistrates Court last Friday.In July 2006, WorkSafe inspectors attended a construction site in East Perth in response to a report that a tilt-up panel had collapsed at the site.WorkSafe said that in the process of issuing prohibition notices to the site manager, the inspectors discovered that two workers had not completed an approved tilt-up safety course for the aspect of work in which they were involved.When the inspectors returned to the site three days later, they found one of the workers had still not completed an approved tilt-up safety course but continued to perform tilt-up work.Inspectors again visited the site a week after the initial visit and found a third worker performing tilt-up work without having completed an approved tilt-up safety course.“Tilt-up construction is high-risk work and the regulations are there to ensure that the risks are avoided, or at least kept to a minimum,” WorkSafe WA commissioner Nina Lyhne said.“The employer persisted in allowing workers without proper training to work in an activity in which training is absolutely vital to working safely,” she said.“We have seen the tragic consequences of not sticking strictly to the laws where tilt-up construction is concerned, and everyone involved in the industry needs to ensure that safety is the top priority onsite.”

Industry Report – Contracts

NORTHERN TERRITORYPLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTUREUpgrade assembly area at Malak Primary School, Darwin: Nightcliff Builders HoldingsContract price: $728,300Starting date: March 2009NORTHERN TERRITORYPLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTUREReformation and graveling various sections between 4.75km and 50km on Port Keats Road, Darwin region: Allan King & Sons ConstructionContract price: $494,516Starting date: March 2009NORTHERN TERRITORYPOWER AND WATERDrilling of new production bores, Kings Canyon, Southern region: Gorey & Cole DrillersContract price: $227,560Starting date: March 2009SOUTH AUSTRALIATRANSPORT, ENERGY AND INFRASTRUCTUREConstruct Glenelg Tram Overpass over South Road, includes shared use bicycle and pedestrian overpass: McConnell Dowell ConstructorsContract price: NA (project value $32 million)Starting date: May 2009Completion date: December 2009TASMANIAINFRASTRUCTURE, ENERGY AND RESOURCESConstruct 20m radius roundabout at junction of Midland, Lyell and Brooker Highways: Downer EDI WorksContract price: $2,469,725Starting date: March 2009Completion date: July 2009VICTORIATRANSPORTDesign and construct Coolaroo Station project: Leighton ContractorsContract price: $12,381,222Starting date: March 2009Completion date: February 2010VICTORIAVICROADSConstruction of new signalised intersection and associated civil works at Pascoe Vale Road and Coolaroo Station Access, Coolaroo: Universal Concrete ConstructionsContract price: $908,177.57Starting date: March 2009VICTORIAVICROADSPavement rehabilitation on Glenrowan-Myrtleford Road and intersection improvements on Kiewa Valley Highway and Glenrowan-Myrtleford Road: Site AustraliaContract price: $665,447.64Starting date: March 2009VICTORIAVICROADSGuardfence installation metropolitan southeast region: McIntosh FencingContract price: $324,186Starting date: March 2009VICTORIAVICROADSSupply and installation of variable message signs VicRoads type B for Arterial Roads: Sydney Traffic ServicesContract price: $202,561Starting date: March 2009VICTORIAVICROADSPassing lane treatment, including pavement widening and guardfence installation, Berwick-Cranbourne Road Hardys Lane, Clyde North: R&C Asphalt PavingContract price: $158,270Starting date: March 2009WESTERN AUSTRALIAWOODSIDE BURRUPProvide access services to Woodside’s Pluto LNG project during construction phase, includes providing 150 operatives who will be located at construction site: PCHContract price: $61.4 millionStarting date: March 2009Completion date: September 2010(PCH is a subsidiary of CAPE Australia which is a part of UK-based industrial services major Cape PLC)WESTERN AUSTRALIATRANSPORTConstruct two new 12.6m-long bridges, 2.3m high and made of reinforced concrete on Collie-Lake King Road, one bridge to be built 23km east of Dumbleyung and the other 11km east of Lake Grace: Jonor ConstructionsContract price: $1.15 millionStarting date: April 2009Completion date: July 2009(Project managed by Main Roads)WESTERN AUSTRALIATRANSPORTUpgrade Stock Road-Garling Street-Stockdale Road intersection in O’Connor Industrial Area, includes installing new traffic signals; extending both right turn pockets on Stock Road; realigning Stockdale Road and Garling Street; building new left turn pocket for southbound traffic on Stock Road; upgrading pedestrian crossing facilities and installing new signs and lines, Perth: Downer EDI WorksContract price: $1.17 millionStarting date: March 2009Completion date: August 2009WESTERN AUSTRALIATUNGSTEN GROUPConstruct prisoner reception extensions, health centre additions and prison visits modifications at Hakea Prison, Canning Vale: Robinson BuildtechContract price: $826,849.46Starting date: March 2009

Rail worker killed by falling steel

The Abigroup subcontractors were positioning a section of rail and sleepers using a large crane when the accident happened, according to the construction major.Abigroup said the accident happened at 11.00pm last night. A WorkCover NSW spokesman told Australian Associated Press the worker who lost his leg was one of four men who sustained serious injuries when the steel fell on top of them. The spokesman said the crane was swinging the load of steel across the track when it fell.“The deepest sympathies of Abigroup and all its employees are with the workers and the families at this time,” Abigroup managing director David Jurd said.The crane operator has been interviewed by police and the scene has been investigated by detectives, forensic officers and WorkCover NSW representatives, according to AAP. Abigroup said today it was assisting police and WorkCover with their investigations.

Topcon seals deal with farm equipment major

AGCO will market the technology under the AGCONNECT brand name.The multi-year agreement covers all AGCO equipment lines and is an expansion of a strategic partnership between AGCO and Topcon.Tierra is the web portal through which all AGCONNECT information will flow.AGCO agricultural products are sold under the core brands of Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra, and are distributed globally through more than 2800 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries.Topcon’s Tierra system allows for online, real-time remote monitoring of all types of mobile plant and equipment.

Worley cuts Australian staff, but payroll increases overall

A source close to the company said the lay-offs occurred on Monday this week, and follows previous staff reductions prior to Christmas. However, a spokesman for the company’s Australian operations told CIN that it has also been actively recruiting for other areas of the business. He said that while the company does not comment on staffing developments in specific locations, he could confirm there have been reductions in Australia and Canada. “But in other areas of the world, they are actually increasing personnel numbers, which reflects the differing economic environments in the [various] parts of the world in which they operate,” he told CIN. “In terms of overall numbers, they do publish an overall headcount number. “On February 25 this year, when they announced their full-year results, the worldwide personnel number was 31,700.” The spokesman said that in the headcount prior to that, which was published in August 2008, the number was 31,400. “So it’s actually gone up by 300,” he said. “Overall, as an organisation they have increased [staff numbers], however some regions have suffered job losses as clients have deferred their projects.”

Employment data paints grim picture for miners, contractors

The figures showed the number of unemployed people rose by 47,100 to just over 590,000, while the number of people in employment also increased to more than 10.8 million.However, the number of full-time positions dropped by 53,800 while part time employment increased by 55,600.Meanwhile, Australian job website Seek released its Seek Employment Index comparing labour market supply and demand, based on the ratio of job advertisements to the number of applications received. Seasonally adjusted, the index fell 8.5% in February to its lowest level since the index began in 2005.The result marks the 12th consecutive drop and is 56.1% lower than in February 2008.Despite Western Australia and Queensland being hit hard by job losses in the mining industry, New South Wales saw the biggest drop, with the index falling by 8.9%.Queensland dropped by 8.3% and WA fell by 7.6%.The number of job advertisements placed with Seek also fell 6% for the month of February and 38.6% over the past 12 months.However, Professor Peter Sheehan from Victoria University’s Centre for Strategic Economic Studies said the number of job advertisements can indicate growth in jobs rather than overall employment.Sheehan also pointed out that job turnover is lower in economic downturns.At least 10,000 miners have lost their jobs since the beginning of 2009, with a recent Australian Mines and Metals Association survey indicating there are more cuts ahead.While many mining and exploration companies are reducing their boards and administrative staff, the latest miner to slash skilled positions is BHP Billiton with 85 jobs cut from its Olympic Dam operations last week.

The big upgrade

Caterpillar is still leading the pack, and moving to joystick control on the M-series graders seems to have been a masterstroke if the tightness of supply is any indication.While Caterpillar sits out front, John Deere has had a significant following in Australia for a long time, and Volvo and Komatsu are not short of admirers either. Mitsubishi may be a little behind in terms of number sold, but there are users who regard their strength highly, as one of the user stories in this feature indicates.Recently a number of Chinese brands have entered the market, although at this stage they are generally not regarded as frontline contenders at tender time. Given time, progression and good quality control, and if they can offer a significant price advantage, their place in the market may change. Sany is the most recent Chinese entrant, with Sino Heavy Equipment distributing its grader. George Christianson from SHE says the Sany grader is a well-built machine with top components such as Cummins, Rexroth, Danfoss and Siemens. SHE has used the experience of the first year on the market to implement some modifications in-house and through local contractors to refine the machine. A larger grader, the model PQ230, will be introduced in 2009.The market for compact graders is small, but at least it does exist where it didn’t for a long time. The compact grader market is showing some diversity in the size of machine offered, so that a machine levelling solution can be found for almost any size of job.Yet another new compact machine, the Laser-Grader, will be displayed at ACE in Melbourne. However this machine has been imported directly by the contractor and there are no immediate plans to make it available for general sale.It would be reasonably safe to assume the Laser-Grader being brought in by SitePrep’s Tom Yosiffidis is the most compact production grader that has the features of a full-size machine. It is a 6WD articulated machine with a machine width of 4 feet (excluding the blade) and a blade width of 6ft, and it can turn with an inside turn radius of 5ft and an outside turn radius of 9ft. With the blade angled it can pass through a 5ft opening. Weight is under 1.5 tonnes and length is under 4m, so it is easy to transport between jobs.The grader is supplied laser-ready and is being fitted locally with an MCE laser system.A key factor in Yosiffidis’ choice was the Laser-Grader’s ability to produce accurate cross falls, as he sees applications for the grader in preparing sporting fields, bicycle paths and the like, as well as general site preparation in confined areas. The Laser-Grader can easily work inside sheds, levelling the surface for slabs. It can also prepare the ground for footpaths and kerb-and-channel, because of its superior ability to produce a level (compared to a skid steer) and its narrow width that minimises intrusion onto the roadway. It is planned that the grader will complement the Harley Rake which SitePrep has been operating for four years. Yosiffidis swears by the Harley Rake as a fast, efficient means of clearing up a site prior to levelling with the Laser-Grader and laying of turf, garden beds, etc. Ironically, although the Laser-Grader is made in the United States its biggest market is in Europe and production runs to around six units per month. Like the Harley Rake, its purchase price initially seems expensive but it shines in the right application and its efficiency makes it an economic tool.