CICA Queensland chairman, Steve Gonano, speaks about the the opportunities and challenges facing the Queensland branch of CICA.
Gonano has been the chairman of CICA Queensland for four years and over that period he’s learnt a terrific amount about the role of CICA in the greater crane community and confirms his role as chairman has been as challenging as expected.
“In Queensland, we seem to go through a bit of a lull certainly in terms of the attendance at our meetings, they weren’t well attended, and things were probably a little bit flat. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been able to generate a more interest in the meetings and in CICA QLD in general. The committee has been a little bit more motivated and there’s definitely more momentum now around various initiatives.
“As a committee, we are definitely getting more done and the membership appears to be more engaged. For this to have happened, we tweaked the format of meetings somewhat and a major objective for this year to get more bums on seats,” he said.
In Queensland, there are a lot of crane businesses that aren’t members of CICA, and therefore unaware of what we do, or the benefits we can offer says Gonano. One major objective for this year is to target this group, make contact with them and get them involved.
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“The numbers are quite high, we estimate there are approximately 300 operations which are not involved with CICA, so it’s important we target this element of the market. There are a lot of smaller operations in and around South East Queensland. Currently we have just over 130 members in CICA QLD so there’s plenty of potential to grow our membership,” said Gonano.
“I started in the industry 24 years ago and there were probably a dozen crane companies in, and around Brisbane back then. Today, we’ve still got three or four bigger operators and there are a few reasonably sized businesses, but now, we see an increase of smaller companies running between one and five cranes.
“This is the sector of the market we are going to target and hopefully generate interest in what we are doing. It will take work, but the committee is certainly on board. If our membership is more representative, it will be good for CICA as an association. It will mean crane businesses are better informed and we will have more leverage when we approach regulators and industry groups in the construction sector,” said Gonano.
CICA QLD is facing a couple of major challenges this year, one is the number of structures on the state roads which members are either not allowed to travel over or structures that operators need to endure a lengthy permit process to obtain a ‘single trip’ permit for. These are what are called ‘do not cross’ or ‘single trip structures’.
“The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) Queensland is now assessing structures on a continuous basis and access over these structures can be changed for operators on a bi-monthly basis. These structures are often on key routes, so cranes are forced off main roads and into suburban areas, which is an issue we are struggling to deal with.
The second major issue for operators in SEQ involves the issue of permits for crane operators to travel in the Brisbane City Council jurisdiction. As far as Gonano is concerned, this is probably going to be a big nut for CICA QLD to crack.
“The permit turnaround times from Brisbane City Council are challenging for crane owners, and I can see access to the city is going to consume a huge percentage of our time this year. Many local councils across the state have really stepped up in recent times with regard to crane access and have led the way forward when it comes to providing operators with a workable, long term permit process. We will continue to work with the BCC to achieve similar outcomes in the city.
“Access was an issue I inherited as the vice-chair and our committee came up with a plan to pay a consultant to work with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to get councils on board with the SPV1 notice,” he said.
“When CICA started this process, NHVR had a handful of councils who had agreed to let SPV1 cranes on their roads. Within 12 months of CICA getting involved we had 36 councils on board. Now every local government in Queensland has provided some form of permit free access for these cranes. That was a massive win for crane owners in Queensland.
“The program worked so well we kept our guy on and he’s been working on getting access for four and five axle all terrain cranes and we’ve got more than 30 councils across the state that have agreed, in principle, to let us run on those council roads with only a few minor restrictions. Just to give you an idea, in my local council, which represents about 450,000 residents, we have access to run on every road bar about eight roads and structures which is excellent. It’s this type of work CICA QLD has been conducting across the state and we’ve seen councils agree to this level of access. It’s been a huge project and it’s certainly put us ahead of some of the other states in terms of access,” said Gonano.
The launch of the CICA Outrigger App has been another positive. It was an idea Gonano had a couple of years ago and he suggested CICA QLD should investigate the development of the App. The QLD committee jumped on board and were an important part of the content and testing of the product.
“Ground pressure calculations more often than not, needs to happen when the crane on a site because that when the operator determines where he will be setting the crane up. Although the formula for calculating the ground bearing pressure is taught as part of the operators assessment, it would rarely be used and in most cases forgotten.
“The App takes the formula out of a book on the shelf in the office and puts it in the hands of a crane operator on a site, on the day he’s about to set the crane up.
“It’s a simple enough idea, it’s not rocket science but to my knowledge, it’s never been done before. It gives operators the ability to do the calculations there and then, they can send these back to the office or they can give them to the client. If nothing else, it means they’ve taken every step that they can to ensure the setup of that crane is safe,” he said.
There have been around 700 downloads of the App so far and that’s across the country. There has also been some interest in the App from Canada and operators in New Zealand.
CICA QLD also managed to negotiate the lifting of the Easter and Christmas travel curfews at the end of last year.
“This is a restriction that was put in place to get cranes off the highways during the Easter and Christmas periods. The restriction was a major issue for operators that have clients with facilities based on roads and highways who wanted to perform ‘shut down’ or maintenance work over these periods. The only way we could service them would be to bring equipment to the site before the shut and leave it there, whether we used it or not, and then retrieve it after the shut when we were allowed back on the road,” said Gonano.
“We lobbied the Main Roads Department over a period of around three years, and we finally got them to fix the curfew and that’s a big win for us. New South Wales did a similar thing and had success a couple of years before us,” he said.