For most of us in the construction industry, 2017 was an inflection point with an improving market. For sure we still have a long way to go to reach those historical highs of 2011/12, but it is great to finally be heading in the right direction.
That was the hope, although at the time of writing we have just seen the Dow Jones industrials drop more than 1500 points hitting a new intraday “point drop” record, with other markets having shown similar downward trends. Economists have advised this was not caused by anything “fundamental”. Prior to this distraction, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) Construction Outlook was forecasting further positive growth rising to 7.1% through 2018 and remaining stable for 2019.
Despite a further fall in mining-related engineering construction, an expanding pipeline of publicly-funded infrastructure is expected to drive stronger activity over the coming years. This positive outlook is being largely influenced by engineering construction with strong growth in road, rail, telecommunications and other civil projects. On the flipside, residential apartments are expected to slow as we see an oversupply and major projects coming to completion.
Road Access continues to be the number one area of frustration for the majority of our members located in the eastern states. Queensland gained some good success last year by funding a trial liaison officer working with the NHVR and educating local councils with our industry to gain acceptance of the SPV1 notice. This proactive and consultative approach was recognised by the NHVR and CICA was awarded a federal grant to fund a full-time position to drive improvement in this area. Hence, I am pleased to welcome Damien Hense to CICA as crane industry communication officer.
Damien has previously worked for 13 years at the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) on programs relating to road access and road assessment for heavy vehicles. ARRB is a not-for-profit government association whose members are state local government associations (LGA NSW, LGAQ, MAV), state road authorities (RMS, TMR, VicRoads, Main Roads WA, DPTI), federal government (Transport and Infrastructure), and NHVR. CICA is already equipped with a strong technical foundation to support our position for increased road access. We have produced position papers justifying the logic behind giving all-terrain cranes similar dynamic factors (due to their hydrodynamic suspension) and load certainty (they have a fixed tare mass) as platform trailers (See table 1 below). Damien is not “another engineer” but rather, has a business background and will use this in conjunction with our technical papers to leverage and lobby for change.
Whilst on the topic of road access, South Australia has been the first state to return delegated authority to the NHVR to manage road compliance and permits. This transition has occurred with little impact to the operations for members. CICA continues to work with South Australian road managers on self-registration and improved access using the revised Bridge Standard.
In NSW, we achieved a win over the holiday period with the removal of the requirement for a Christmas curfew and over in Victoria, the Victorian gazette is grandfathering cranes that are in the state for the next decade and work is underway to reduce the number of required escorts on dual carriageways. An amendment to the SPV1 notice is underway to include a better definition of three-axle crane rear overhang to allow for secondary winches and the inclusion of city cranes that have a single cabin. In Queensland, whilst the TMR has stated they have reduced their design load factor from 1.8 to 1.6 (favourable), they have advised it is unlikely this will increase allowable axle loads, but suggested it could open up access for previously not cross structures. They also advised our industry has achieved impeccable IAP compliance rates over the past 12 months ranging between 99.3 to 99.9%. Given this excellent result we are hopeful we will soon see the green light for some pending approvals to bring us in line with our southern brothers – namely tunnel access, self-weighing for registration and removal of the Christmas curfew. Of course, there is nothing to report for WA and NT for they already have near perfect road access, the model that all eastern states aspire towards.
Under the Heavy Vehicle National Chain of Responsibility(CoR) law, each party in the supply chain is obliged to ensure breaches of road transport laws do not occur. This applies to companies, employers, loading supervisors, operators/drivers and schedulers. The Chain of Responsibility encompasses speed, mass, dimensions, fatigue, load restraint and in 2018, vehicle standards and maintenance will also be added. Each party in the supply chain must be able to demonstrate that they took all reasonably practicable steps to prevent any breaches. Industry is writing Codes of Practice to help define a management system to prevent breaches while CICA is taking a proactive approach by writing our own Crane CoR Code of Practice. Once again, our proactive collaborative approach has been recognised and CICA has been successful in being one of only three industry associations approved to write Industry Codes of Practice. Thank you to the volunteers helping us with this significant project – Launa Williams, Ben Pieyre, Danny Adair, Geoff Bevan, and John Gillespie. It is hopeful a draft code will be available for review at our February National Reference Group meeting in Adelaide.
For those who have not yet had the opportunity to view CICA’s CrewSafe (www.crewsafe.com.au) program, a reminder that it’s now live on the web. CrewSafe is a standardised assessment program that could eventually become the resumé for a crane operator – a game changer to combat the quality and cost of VOCs and an excellent example of CICA taking authority of the crane industry, proactively leading us to a Safe and Profitable Crane Industry for our members.
As we enter into 2018, it is great to finally see the construction industry some showing real signs of improvement and as an association, I am confident we have the right projects, expertise and resources to ensure we further our vision for a Safe and Profitable Industry in the year ahead. Of course, as CICA is YOUR association, our improvement initiatives should be to help you and our industry. If there are other areas you would like CICA to be working on, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line, I’d love to hear how we can better help.
General Manager Terex Australia
0419 384 962