Remote Location Project Expertise 5,000km West of Mackay
Organisation is the key to successful remote location project delivery
Helping our customers deliver building services in remote locations as extreme as Onslow is no easy task.
What sets AE Smith apart is our people. People with the right expertise and the right remote location experience to make it hassle free for our customers in regional Australia
The AE Smith team in Mackay recently completed its fifth, and possibly most challenging airport project, working alongside Woollam Constructions, in the remote town of Onslow.
Onslow is located in the far north of Western Australia 5,132 km by road directly west of Mackay. The local airport was commissioned by the Shire of Ashburton and mining giant Chevron, with its primary purpose to service a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) mining workforce.
No stranger to remote location delivery, AE Smith Project Manager, Nathan Gibbs was appointed to lead the Onslow Airport project, having previously worked with Woollam Constructions to deliver Roma, Longreach and Mackay airports also in regional Australia.
The project scope included installation of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning system with air-change package units and Big Ass Fans for ventilation, exhaust and fresh air systems, as well as installation of the Building Management System (BMS).
When talking about the challenges of remote delivery, Nathan is resolute about the most important factor for success – organisation.
“On remote projects, organisation is critical. Weeks of careful planning is required to make sure the right materials, the right people and the right tools are onsite at the right time,” Nathan said.
All of the ductwork for the project was manufactured on the east coast of Australia and then trucked some 5,000 km over to Onslow, taking between 5-7 days to arrive on site. This logistical implication was factored into the critical path of the project.
“There’s no room for error when you’re adding a week for transport. Every single part needs to be checked and double checked before it’s put on the truck. Otherwise, any issue could throw the project off by weeks.”
The nearest town to Onslow is Karratha, a three-hour drive away. Even food and cyclone proof shelter was carefully planned ahead of project commencement, because a quick trip to Karratha was out of the question.
“Just before we arrived, the Onslow supermarket burnt down. It was just one more reminder that you have to come prepared,” Nathan said.
Once on site, the extreme weather conditions of northern Australia added another complexity to project delivery. High winds quickly layered a blanket of red dirt over the construction site, hiding tools and materials.
Facing the unusual consequence of paying $300 per additional night for a camping site, minimising onsite disruptions was crucial.
“The conditions around us made it even more important to collaborate with everyone working on site. We helped the builder and the builder helped us. No one went home until it was done.” Nathan said.
No doubt, it’s the organisation and the collaboration that has seen multi award-winning Woollam Constructions choose AE Smith as their HVAC supplier for over 20 years.
“We’ve found AE Smith to be able to address any issue as it arises. They’re very capable. We’d recommend them for any project,” said Craig Percival, Director of Woollam Constructions.
“Helping our customers deliver building services in remote locations as extreme as Onslow is no easy task,” said Mike Mulherin, General Manager of AE Smith in Mackay.
“What sets AE Smith apart is our people. People with the right expertise and the right remote location experience to make it hassle free for our customers in regional Australia.”