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Crane company is hooked on WA success

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Cranes are a vital link in every production chain and KCI Konecranes is expanding its commitment in WA to ensure it meets demands amidst the minerals boom.

Konecranes WA head of sales John Jackman says like the resource industry, the company’s new business is booming.

He says in the past year, WA miners have placed orders with KCI Konecranes for 12 new CXT cranes and 28 solo hoists from 3.2t-capacity upwards. Jackman says he expects sales to double this year.

Currently, KCI Konecranes is building an 80t CXT crane with a 15t auxiliary hoist for Hamersley Iron.

“Our technicians service many heavy lift cranes,” Jackman says.

“There are several 90t cranes at Newman and at Argyle Diamonds in the Kimberley region. An 80t crane at the Collie Power Station, sold and serviced by KCI Konecranes, is semi-automated.

“Almost all our WA customers are upgrading their old lifting equipment to improve capacity, safety and productivity and to meet forthcoming new Australian regulatory standards.

“KCI Konecranes technicians are working with many companies using overhead cranes, for which compliance with the new standards is mandatory.

“One of our OH&S specialists, James Dowe, has just completed an audit of the 164 cranes at Worsley Alumina, a new client, to ensure the level of compliance necessary to meet the 10 and 25-year benchmarks,” he says.

“Our technicians are based around the state and two-man teams already are located strategically at Port Hedland, Newman, Pinjarra, Wagerup and Collie. To meet the needs of clients in Kalgoorlie, our team there has assembled a very large stock of crane parts so repairs are not delayed,” Jackman says.

Typical of the company’s involvement with clients under contract in WA is BHP Billiton’s iron ore facilities at Port Hedland, Newman and Boodarrie. The contracts include: 473 hooks (cranes) for phased inspection, refurbishment and repair, including many units due for 25-year inspection and renovation; four CXT cranes and two CXT monorails for installation at Port Hedland and Hamersley Iron; and relocation of five Konecranes technicians and two administration staff to undertake full-time contract work.

At Alcoa and Worsley Alumina’s two mining sites and refineries at Pinjarra, Wagerup and Boddington the contracts include:·478 hooks, of which 150 are wire rope hoists more than 15-years-old; new Konecranes to be installed as part of $165m upgrade at Boddington refinery; and two full-time Konecranes technicians located at both Pinjarra and Boddington, and one at Wagerup.

KCI Konecranes managing director, Southeast Asia Pacific Edward Yakos says the key to the company’s service is not just the capacity to respond quickly to problems but the local and global knowledge to stop them arising in the first place.

“We know that by applying better management, planning and technical skills to our clients’ equipment, we can prevent costly breakdowns and avoid emergencies,” Yakos says.

“Limitation of downtime through co-operation with customers and structured maintenance are essential.”

Yakos says to help provide this safety net, the company draws on its expertise as the world’s largest crane manufacturing and maintenance services group. It has over 11,000 cranes in Australasia, where the company has more than 100 specialists in crane commissioning and maintenance at 26 locations.

The company offers a 24-hour, rapid-response service and already has regular maintenance plans in place for more than 1560 cranes in WA from Albany in the south to Port Hedland 2000km away in the north west.

The program extends across WA with many sites four hours’ drive from the nearest town. Work on cranes at St Barbara’s mine near Meekatharra, for example, means a seven-hour journey each way on dirt roads.

Yakos says the challenges posed by contracts with WA’s resources giants are “unique”.

“The average start-up time on all new projects is usually two weeks and some sites are up to 1700km from Perth,” Yakos says.

“The task of listing large numbers of operating cranes of all makes, ages and capacities on-site is a minor problem compared with the job of programming and prioritising the maintenance of them,” he says.

“However, KCI Konecranes did not get to be the world leader in crane building and maintenance by chance. We were already tracking the growth of Western Australia’s industry and development to pre-empt sudden spikes in demand for our services.

“By applying our global knowledge of cranes of all makes and models we are able to quickly quantify and anticipate our clients’ needs and provide optimum service efficiency throughout the life of the contract,” Yakos says.

In Australasia, the company’s field teams of more than 130 specialist technicians have access to quick-response inventories of cables, chains and spare parts for all types of cranes. This is backed up by the group’s international resource network, which can deliver even hard-to-get components within days.

“In addition, we are equipped with the specialised production facilities, computer modelling and engineering expertise necessary for new crane fabrication,” Yakos says.

The company installs the latest operating and safety technology in all the cranes it makes and upgrades. Its products range from small chain hoists to process cranes that can lift many hundreds of tonnes.

Yakos says despite rigid safety and lifting performance regulations, an estimated 70% of all crane maintenance in Australasia is still carried out in-house by crane owners’ staff.

“Outsourcing crane maintenance to professionals improves cost-efficiency, safety and uptime,” Yakos says.

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