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All in a day’s work

All in a day’s work

Since the beginning of time, well, 1996, Metcalf Crane Services has lived by one motto: ‘getting the job done’. This attitude has built a strong foundation for the company driving growth over the years. Jacqueline Ong reports. 

Metcalf Crane Services was founded by Tim Metcalf 22 years ago when he pursued an opportunity to invest in a new crawler crane while working on the Citylink Project. 

Today, major infrastructure projects, including road, rail and bridge infrastructure are a staple for Metcalf Cranes. In fact, the company has been involved in nearly all of Victoria’s level crossing removal programs and most of Melbourne’s major civil infrastructure projects. When it comes to marquee lifts such as bridge beams, large span pedestrian overpasses or complex high risk works, Metcalf has chiselled out an unparalleled reputation for excellence.

The mobile crane operator provides services across Australia with a fleet that ranges from a 3t mini crawler to a 600t truck mounted crane. Cranes and Lifting wanted to know why major infrastructure project proponents tended to turn to Metcalf and a company spokesperson explained it simply: “It comes down to understanding requirements in compliance, paperwork and complex engineering solutions, and then having a team who can take an idea from conception to completion. Having a group of individuals who understand the goal and pursue it as a collective is very reassuring to all clients, particularly those who work in the tier one space.

“It means that when we turn up to a job, there is rarely any second guessing as to how the lift will be executed”.

Riding the infrastructure wave

Australia is in the middle of a population boom and infrastructure is playing catch-up. This bodes well for the construction sector and its supply chain. At present, there is significant appetite within government for major infrastructure projects and companies including Metcalf are ready to pursue the resulting opportunities. 

Adequately maximising these opportunities also means having to move with the changes that come with them. For instance, clients’ demands are evolving. For one, there is a growing expectation that crane operators will provide back-up lift support and Metcalf is on the front foot in this area. 

“Five to eight years ago, only high profile or marquee lifts demanded lift studies. Today, on most tier one sites, even the simplest jobs require a lift plan. We understand the narrative has changed in this space and rather than push back, we now have three engineers working full-time on these things,” the spokesperson said. 

Another common challenge amongst crane companies is the lack of good quality crew members. This is a concern that many in the industry have been vocal about. For Metcalf, one strategy is to tap into their strong network.

“The current challenge is trying to find good quality people and maintaining your brand through the people who represent you every day. But it’s about your network – understanding who the key players in the market are and knowing what sort of employees you’d want representing your brand. And then, having access to those networks by being one of the larger players in the market,” the spokesperson said. 

Another strategy around human resources has been a focus on internal training capability. 

“We now have crew members going through Cert IV in Training with the hope we will be able to offer hands-on training which is field based,” Metcalf said.

While Metcalf appears to be well equipped to come out ahead in the infrastructure game, what with its network, fleet, and experience, the spokesperson does foresee a few key trends and changes for the sector in the coming 12 to 18 months, offering some thoughts on them. 

“The availability of resources – both plant and human resources – is going to be extremely difficult to come by. We’re a microcosm of the markets we service but we expect there to be a rapid dilution of available human resource talent in the coming months. We need to be thinking a little bit outside the box as to where it’s going to come from and whether or not we look interstate or oversees. At the moment, Queensland and WA might present some opportunities for us to find some good quality people,” the spokesperson said. 

“Available equipment is also going to be difficult to get to. We’ve gone through the last three or four years where it hasn’t been too tough to get hold of equipment and the manufacturers have been in sales mode. They’re now going to be in order taking mode and there’ll be longer lead times on equipment much like six or seven years ago when you couldn’t get hold of a new crane for 12 months. 

“We need to be a bit more strategic around what resources we need and then be in a position where we’re ordering now for what’s going to be available in 12 months’ time.”

Metcalf Crane Services has grown in the last 22 years and today, operates a fleet of some 30-plus cranes across a wide range of brands, incorporating Metcalf Heavy Haulage and Metcalf Wind Services under the Metcalf Group banner. The company has a solid reputation thanks to its experience and expertise in providing a wide range of transport and lifting solutions. Some examples of recent projects include: 

  • Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Project.
  • Citylink Tullamarine Freeway Widening Project.
  • Melbourne Water Capital Works Program.
  • NEPA Level Crossing Project.
  • Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel Project.
  • Mernda Rail Extension Project.

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