Pipe work is a critical part of any operation, so when it comes to choosing a contractor it is important to look for a specialist well rounded in its discipline and with plenty of knowledge and experience.
Pipe work is a critical part of any project or operation, so when it comes to choosing a contractor it is important to look for a specialist well rounded in its discipline and with plenty of knowledge and experience.
However, the biggest contractor is not always best when it comes to pipe work, according to Garreth Higgins of Offaly Civil Engineering – a small but experienced contractor specialising in pipeline installation and associated infrastructure work.
“Unlike large contractors with massive overheads, smaller contractors can keep management staff to a minimum. Efficient streamlining of project delivery offers competitive solutions as a direct by-product of ultra-light overhead burdens,” Higgins said.
With a strong mining infrastructure and heavy civil background in Australia’s North West, Offaly is forging a strong track record in the successful delivery of some major projects including current participation in Phase Two of the Ord Irrigation Expansion Project near Kununurra.
“We believe there is a need for a smaller sized contractor to offer cost effective one-stop shop solutions to clients who may have small to mid-sized project packages they want efficiently carried out,” he added.
Technological advances in pipe such as improvements in Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Polyethylene (PE) and Ductile Iron Pipe (DICL) pipes have increased pipe strength, resistance to chemical attack and allowed greater ease of installation. However, it takes more than just the best materials to successfully install pipe work, according to Higgins.
“Often contractors that specialise in trunk drainage and service reticulation don’t have the expertise to execute the scope of works included in, for example, the mechanical fit-out of associated pump station infrastructure,” he said.
“The mechanical fit-out of pump station components such as pumps, pipes and pedestals often involve components that require on-site fabrication or modification.
“In remote regions synonymous with mine site locations in the North West, it is not a viable option to send such ‘make-up’ pieces off site for fabrication. This process often involves large costs associated with logistics the flow on effects of program delay.”
In fluid reticulation infrastructure including the on-site fabrication of make-up spool pieces - mild and stainless steel - Higgins said, a pipeline contractor should be a ‘one stop shop’ to efficiently complete the pump station fit-out and avoid delays.
“Working with pipe can be challenging,” he stated.
“Given the linear nature of service reticulation and pipeline infrastructure there is typically a limited number of work faces reasonable accessible at any one time. It’s important that a contractor can work with these challenges to minimize delays.
“Management and engineering teams that have developed skills almost exclusively through the mining infrastructure and heavy civil background in Australia’s North West makes a big difference. It carries with it an intrinsic understanding of the high safety and environmental standards that need to be met.”
End users and project managers, says Higgins, can choose the right provider of services pipe work and associated infrastructure by partnering with a company that is well rounded within its discipline.
“A pipe work contractor should be able to handle all aspects of the pipe work; there should be no need for that contractor to outsource pipework to another service provider.”
“Choosing a contractor with an experienced management team in the mining and civil infrastructure industry will also streamline the interface with either mine operations and other contractors.”