NEWEST & BRIGHTEST: Manitowoc’s new all terrain/trailer hybrid revealed

The crane, which Manitowoc says is the first of its kind, consists of the superstructure of a 55-tonne GMK 3055 all terrain crane mounted on a standard three-axle truck trailer that can be hooked up to any prime mover.Manitowoc says the GSK55 will be an ideal alternative to an all terrain crane in applications where the crane is rarely moved.A 104-kilowatt Iveco engine on the trailer provides the power for the superstructure and outriggers. When combined with a two-axle prime mover, the gross vehicle weight is under 42t and when travelling with an 11.6t counterweight the axle loadings are less than 9t – well within the standard 12t axle limit.The crane’s specs are the same as the GMK3055, which means a 43m main boom plus an optional 8.7m/15m swingaway jib.Manitowoc will be watching the market reaction to the GSK55 keenly and will no doubt move quickly to introduce bigger capacity trailer-mounted cranes if it is well received.Intermat 2009 is on from April 20 to 25.

Vic CCF flags major construction skills issues

The Victorian CCF said the industry’s capability to commence and complete delivery of the various projects would be particularly challenging, and requires a national approach to succeed. The organisers of the event, which was held on February 17, said there was broad agreement on the direction needed to address the skills issues, including but not limited to:
An economic downturn is an opportunity to refocus industry and government on the core strengths and weaknesses of the sector and action reforms accordingly.
A skills bank of retired engineers provides an immediate solution to infrastructuredevelopment needs.
A standard provisional funding sum included in all contracts that must be directed toward training and skills development will vastly improve training and skills development.
Increased partnership between industry, educators and government is required.
A regional employment priority on projects can address regionalised skills shortages.
There is a need to focus on and promote the importance of infrastructure development at the school and secondary college level.
The Victorian CCF said the forum, called Skills Summit Victoria, was attended by more than 100 representatives of local and state government, water companies, civil contracting firms and other construction companies. The forum assessed a number of issues affecting skill levels including lack of ongoing training, inconsistencies and lack of standardisation across all levels of government, and an ageing workforce. There skills summit also recognised the need for collaboration across industry, government and the education and training sector. The Victorian CCF said a steering committee chaired by its president Ian Sowerby is being formed to implement the key issues identified in the Summit.The first meeting is scheduled for March 19.

Aspermont holds its core strength

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company said the $11.66 million revenue figure, up from $7.03 million in the December 2007 half, included the full consolidation of the $A18.8 million acquisition of United Kingdom publisher Mining Communications Limited in April last year.The group booked a loss after tax of $793,000 for the period after incurring costs for new product development and short-term corporate and integration costs. However, it stated a $1.2 million consolidated earnings profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, up 13% on the corresponding period, after allowing for new product investment, unrealised investment portfolio movements and one-off corporate costs.Aspermont publishes an international stable of print and online B2B (business-to-business) news services covering the mining, petroleum, coal, construction, biotechnology and logistics sectors, including ConstructionIndustrynews.net. The publishing business is complemented by a global offering of specialist conferences.The group said slowing advertising sales in the latter part of the report period due to the global economic downturn, which impacted Aspermont’s key markets in the resources and construction industry sectors, had been the catalyst for a full review of business operations.New product development had been slowed in some marginal sectors until the return of more favourable trading conditions. Cost-reduction measures were expected to yield saving of about $3 million a year, with the financial impact already visible in the second half of 2008-09 and projecting into the next financial year. The company was also rejuvenating the sales process across the business, focusing on improved key customer management and bundled sales across multiple products as well as taking advantage of Aspermont’s global exposure.While advertising sales slowed, subscription services had remained firm, a result the company put down to the quality information content that continued to be provided to its loyal readership base.Although conferencing could be susceptible to economic downturn, the leading Mines & Money London event last December had exceeded 2007 outcomes. The merger of leading Australian resource investment magazine ResourceStocks with its UK counterpart, World Mining Stocks, had led to cost savings.The company also maintained its investment in new technology, with the implementation of new and more efficient magazine production and print/online subscriptions systems that are expected to produce combined savings of $260,000 a year.In Australia, the joint venture with the Kondinin Group is forecast to grow revenue streams in the Australian agricultural sector.Chief executive officer Colm O’Brien said Aspermont’s normalised result showed the underlying financial performance of its core products remained positive. “The current trading conditions have been a catalyst to rejuvenate our sales approach and completely review costs,” O’Brien said. “The underlying EBITDA performance is satisfactory considering the group is reinvesting profits into new products and systems which in turn position the group for future growth.“Historically our financial performance in the second half is always stronger and with various cost initiatives yet to kick in, we believe a result in excess of the 2008 result remains on course”

Ausdrill silently confident

Ausdrill recorded a net profit after tax of $A25.055 million for the half year to December 31, 2008, up 52% on the same period last year. The result includes pre-tax unrealised foreign exchange gains of $6.351 million and costs associated with the defence of the hostile Macmahon takeover bid of $2.04 million. Revenue was up 46% from $187.2 million to $273 million, while earnings before interest, tax depreciation, and amortisation jumped 59% from $41.5 million to $66.1 million. The company blames an increase in net debt, to $168 million, partly on the depreciation of the Australian dollar. The company said the result was achieved in spite of the global economic crisis, but said it is unrealistic to expect Ausdrill will not be affected in the future, noting it had already seen a marked slowdown in activities. “Whilst tendering activity remains high, the company is seeing increased pressure from clients to reduce operating costs and is experiencing increased competitor pressure in some sectors,” Ausdrill said. “To date, we have had one contract suspended and one mine closure directly affecting our operations, that being Norilsk Nickels Black Swan operation that closed on February 17, 2009, resulting in four blasthole drills being stood down. “At the early stage of the crisis we did see reduced production on some sites in Africa, most of which have since returned to full production.” Looking ahead, the company said its exposure to gold operations augers well, as a result of increased gold prices, and Africa remains a key growth area with a number of gold projects due to be tendered in the near future. The company said it expects to continue to operate profitably in the period ahead. However, Ausdrill’s board would not provide any firm guidance on the level of expected profitability.

Flying the flag

Melbourne-based family company Schibeci virtually created a new market worldwide for concrete flooring maintenance and finishing systems based on stand-on mini and skid steer loaders. Schibeci’s attachments are market leaders around the world, but the company has gone further in having a range of mini loaders badged under its brand and built to its specification using the shells of Kanga and Dingo loaders. The Schibeci machines generally have higher hydraulic output and lifting capacity than the machines they are based on, as well as optional electric drive for indoor use. Schibeci is a company that is worth keeping an eye on, as it is exciting to see an Australia-based manufacturer lead the world into a new market.Morooka distributor Sunset Equipment is working with Weldco to manufacture Morooka tracked transporters in Australia this year.While the move will reduce the effect of the altered exchange rate on the cost of a new machine, Sunset Equipment had already engaged Weldco to lengthen the chassis of the MST 2200VD model and incorporate an extra bogie and longer tracks. Rather than disassemble a new machine, add some components and discard others, it made more sense to build the required chassis from scratch.Local manufacture also allows the possibility of altering the design where necessary, including being able to break the machine into modules for transport into remote locations by helicopter.Paveline has been building truck-mounted road maintenance units for a number of years, and last year unveiled a new model designed to incorporate CANbus systems and to make working components more accessible for maintenance. The next module planned is a road sign robot that places signs, records their positions using GPS and collects them when the work is completed. Paveline director Dick Howling says Australian patching machines are the most advanced in the world, and credits close contact with users with the rapid pace of development of these machines.Howling says exporting is a possibility, but he will not pursue it until local demand is satisfied. The long-term intention is to have Paveline machines manufactured overseas under licence.Bathurst Equipment has designed a compactor that uses Caterpillar components and fits between vibrating pad drum rollers and larger 815 compactors, with its optimum production range being 650-950 cubic metres per hour. To date two machines have been delivered and a third is due to be delivered soon. The SC805 compactor has a power angle/tilt blade that allows operators to easily move material into or away from an embankment, and the lack of external blade mounts means that it can compact against high vertical banks. The machine is not aimed at a high volume segment, but it is economical and cost-effective in the right application, and has prospects in export as well as domestic markets. It may suit the hire market.Arrow Machinery was formed in 1967 to manufacture a New Zealand design of concrete kerber. This was redeveloped locally, and export markets were developed almost immediately. At one time the company was the second largest producer in the world of kerbing machines.Manager Peter Andrews took full control of the company in 1989 and continued to develop the product range and export markets, which included the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Peter’s son Tim took over the reins after working with Peter for a number of years and continues to find success locally and overseas. Tasmanian company Terratec and its founder Tony Peach are well known in the international tunnel community. Terratec manufactures new and modifies existing tunnel boring machines and tunnelling backup and muck removal equipment, and has developed some specialist equipment in this area, including a segment erector, a self-propelled California Switch that allows vehicles to pass in the tunnel, and a bracing vehicle used in closely spaced parallel tunnels.

Bright outlook for Monadelphous

Sales revenue for the period was $562.7 million, up 22%, as a result of increased activity across its operations. Monadelphous managing director Rob Velletri said while the global financial crisis and falls in commodity prices had rapidly changed market conditions, with a number of customers deferring projects and cutting back expenditure, most of the company’s committed projects were proceeding as planned.Looking ahead, the company said customer confidence in long-term resources and energy demand remains with a number of core customers in bulk commodity markets, including iron ore and coal, continuing their development plans.Monadelphous said it was particularly encouraged by BHP Billiton’s recent announcement that it was committing to its Rapid Growth Project 5 in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Industrial services company Thomas & Coffey reported a profit after tax for the first half of $4.7 million, up 49% on the previous corresponding period, while revenue jumped 69% to $211.4 million. The firm said that while a number of industrial clients were reporting reductions in volumes in the steel and aluminium industry, other industries including coal, defence and infrastructure would offer opportunities over the coming period. “There is considerable uncertainty in our markets which are changing very quickly, and further production cuts by our customers, increased competitive pressure on margins, potential deferment or cancellation of projects may have a significant impact on earnings,” Thomas & Coffey managing director Martin Whittaker said. “Despite this caution, we will keep the market informed but believe Thomas & Coffey is well placed to develop further its current market position in challenging economic conditions.”

Mini crawlers join hire fleet

The rubber-track mini crawler crane can be used in confined spaces, with the larger and more unusual MC405 model lifting up to 3.8 tonnes, and the smaller version hoisting up to 2.8t. For use in building, construction and landscaping, the diesel-powered units can be used in many situations like concrete panelling, sheeting, cladding, glass installation, plant maintenance, relocating valuable art works, and craning heavy furniture into buildings through windows. The rare MC405 mini crawler crane lifts up to 16.8m on the standard boom sections. At a 2.7m radius it can lift 3.83t, while at a 3.5m radius the unit can hoist up to 3.03t. The larger model’s maximum working radius is 16m, which can haul 210kg. According to Kennards, the unit has hydrostatic transmission, stepless forward and reverse and pentagonal-shaped automatic five-stage telescopic boom. The unit also has many electronic safety features. Meanwhile, the smaller “super-slim” MC285 model can be transported on a trailer using a medium-sized 4WD or truck. The MC285 model has a lifting height of 8.7m, with a load capacity of 2.82t at a 1.4m radius.

Abeko, Team Van Oord to rehabilitate Norfolk coast

Abeko will replace groynes along 18 kilometres of beach between Happisburgh and Winterton, and construct a new revetment. Team Van Oord is responsible for technical support and beach replenishment works.Around 32,000 tonnes of rock sourced from waste material in Norway is being shipped in by barge to rebuild the Groyne.About 35,000t of fresh granite rock, 25,000 cubic metres of rock buried under sand and 280,000cu.m of dredged sand will go towards rebuilding the Groyne and beach replenishment. A Cat988 wheel loader is used to unload 13,500t of rock from the barge. Once all the rock is on the beach, a 78t O&K RH25.5 heavy-duty tracked excavator and a Hitachi Zaxis 470LCH will begin recovery work.The Environment Agency and environmentalists are observing the rehabilitation works to ensure sand dunes are not disturbed, and the beach and local habitat are not contaminated or endangered.

Industry Report – Contracts

NEW SOUTH WALESDELMEGE CONSTRUCTIONS-LAING O’ROURKEEnvironmentally sustainable design (ESD) consultant on redevelopment of 90 and 100 Mount Street, with approximate gross floor area of 40,000 square metres, North Sydney: Waterman AHWContract price: NAStarting date: February 2009Completion date: 2012(Project value $200 million)NORTHERN TERRITORYPOWER AND WATERMaintenance and minor new works on water and sewerage pumps, Katherine: Bennett Engineering & FabricationContract price: $438,494.80Starting date: February 2009Completion date: 36 MonthsQUEENSLANDTRANSLINKConstruct Stage 2 bus priority lane on Klumpp Road, includes indented bus bay, in-bound bus priority lane, connect existing southeast busway access ramp with facilities from Stage 1 of project, Mt Gravatt: Brisbane City WorksContract price: $2 millionStarting date: February 2009VICTORIAVICROADSSupply and installation of traffic signals and associated road works at intersection of Lower Dandenong Road and Boundary Road, Mordialloc: G & S Fortunato GroupContract price: $2,423,931Starting date: February 2009VICTORIATRANSPORTDeliver 20 new six-carriage XTrapolis trains, Melbourne:AlstomContract price: NAStarting date: February 2009Completion date: NAVICTORIAEDUCATIONConstruct Stage 1 of Weeroona College includes three buildings, two learning areas, performance arts building, Bendigo: Harris Maintenance ConsultantsContract price: NA Starting date: February 2009(Part of government’s $70 million Bendigo Education Plan to create four new secondary schools)WESTERN AUSTRALIAHOUSING AND WORKSConstruct two single dwelling houses at Noonkanbah Aboriginal Community: Quality BuildersContract price: $819,301.11Starting date: February 2009

Toyota’s quiet achievements with compacts

The popular 4SDK range seems to have been around forever but is now being replaced with the 5SDK range, which includes two new models: the top of the range 5SDK11, with an operating capacity of 900kg, and the 730kg capacity 5SDK9. The 4SDK4 remains in place as the entry level machine.The 5SDK range features a larger cabin (90mm taller and 54mm wider), reduced noise and vibration levels, and digital instrumentation. The suspension seat has 150mm of fore and aft adjustment. New steps and grips make it easier to get in and out of the cabin. These machines underwent extensive testing in Australia, which is a key market for Toyota. Toyota Material Handling engineers chose to stick with proven solid-state electronics on all models rather than newer technologies that could compromise performance in severe operating environments. A first with the SDK5 range is the choice of a Toyota or a universal hitch, making it easier for potential buyers to change brands without the cost penalty of buying new attachments.The models 5SDK8 to 5SDK11 have pilot control levers, while the 5SDK10 and 5SDK11 models also have vertical lift arms.Pressure reduction rings are fitted to each of the lift and dump cylinders to improve durability by absorbing impact when digging, and also protect gasket seals and reduce the risk of oil leaks. New wedge-shaped pins move vertically to secure the bucket in place and reduce noise during bucket operation. A new urethane paint system is said to give additional protection against rust and fading.