THE world's largest crane maintenance organisation, KCI Konecranes , passes a landmark in Queensland this year with the trebling of the size of its operation in the Sunshine State.
The global giant - which has more than 230,000 cranes under service contract in 40 countries worldwide - has expanded its operations from Brisbane into Gladstone, Mackay and Townsville.
Staff levels have trebled over three years as the KCI Konecranes State team of over 30 base and technical staff traverse the state on service contracts designed to prevent crane problems arising in the first place - and backing up this security with 24-hour at-call service.
"As world leader in our businesses, with KCI Konecranes' global sales exceeding $A1 billion a year, we have outstanding knowledge of how to plan and schedule maintenance to optimise equipment service life - and to avoid the choking bottlenecks that businesses suffer when essential lifting equipment breaks down,” said KCI Konecranes Queensland Manager, Stephen Grant.
"In addition to immediate access to this wealth of computer-based and practical knowledge, we have local staff with hands-on experience who are immediately familiar with local site issues.
“This is especially important in the current environment of skills shortages, when companies are increasingly turning to outsourcing to gain access to a reliable skills base and to free up their own valuable production staff to get on with the job of producing.
"We have more than trebled staff levels in Queensland over the past three years, expanding from our Southeast Queensland branch to add more skilled people in the mid and northern regions as well as broadening our base by training local apprentices," said Mr Grant.
KCI Konecranes bases at Mackay and Gladstone now cover major port and loading facilities as well as the northern and southern regions of the Bowen Basin, from which 143Mt of coal was exported last financial year.
"Our tradesmen are responsible for the repair and upkeep of all makes of cranes at mines throughout the Bowen Basin - Moorvale, Coppabella, North Goonyella, Glenden, Blair Athol and Ensham to name a few - and we now maintain around 20 cranes and monorails at the Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point coal terminals in Mackay."
The Mackay and new Gladstone offices - headed respectively by Justin Shepherd and Michael Forrester - are complemented further north by the Townsville branch headed by Jason Thomas, whose five technicians' responsibilities include the Boyne Smelter, Xstrata's Copper Reef operation, Comalco refinery facilities plus mining and loading operations extending from the coast to Mt Isa.
KCI Konecranes Managing Director of Southeast Asia Pacific, Edward Yakos, said the company is prepared for even further growth in Queensland resulting from a greater swing to outsourcing for the estimated 70% of all crane maintenance still carried out by crane owners' in-house staff.
"With enormous growth in Queensland we believe demand in this area will provide growth opportunities for decades to come,” said Mr Yakos.
“As skills bases are stretched by coal exports alone ballooning to as much as 250Mt a year by 2010, more and more companies are coming to appreciate the benefits, security and safety of world-class outsourcing.
“We are making major investments not only to ensure we achieve excellence during our current expansion, but also to ensure we lead the trend into the future.”
Konecranes' clients include a who's who in Australasian and South Asian industry giants, including the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology organisation, ANSTO; Air New Zealand; Australian Cement; Cadia Mining Australia; Contact Energy NZ; Eagle Services Asia Pte Ltd (ESA), a joint venture between Pratt and Whitney and SIA Engineering Company; Lihir Gold, Papua New Guinea; OneSteel Australia; Patrick Corporation container terminals; Pilkington; Ratchaburi Power Station in Thailand; paper packaging group Thaikraft; Southern Hydro (Tasmania), and Uncle Tobys.