Marine contracting requires a specialised crane fleet. Brady Marine & Civil discuss the reasons behind the purchase of new 500t crawler crane.
Brady Marine & Civil specialise in the construction of wharves, jetties, offshore pipelines, bridges over water and other marine based complex structures. The company owns a fleet of specialised plant and equipment and recently added a Liebherr LR1500, 500t capacity crawler crane.
Paul Brady is the company’s owner and executive director. Brady has been in construction for 35 years and for the last 25, he has been purely focussed on marine work.
“Of the last 30 years, half of it has been spent working in my own business and the other half working for multinational companies managing major projects with most of that being in marine works. When I turned 40, I was given the opportunity to start a business and create my own future with a business partner.
“I’ve been in business now the last 15 years. I think my major project beginnings engrained in me a ‘big picture’ outlook so I haven’t been scared by big projects and large-scale marine works.
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“It took a while to get our feet on the ground and gain traction but it’s a good niche. There’s plenty of competition but all of the players in our area have their own strengths and weaknesses,” he said.
Brady explains the various focusses for the business.
“Marine works includes anything over water, and we divide it into four areas. Wharves and jetties are our core work. Bridge construction over water uses much the same equipment as wharf and jetty works, so we have applied ourselves to that also in the right circumstances. The third area is marine infrastructure including ferry terminals, pedestrian and bikeways over water, navigation beacons, re-builds of wharves, those sorts of projects. The final area is near-shore sub-sea pipelines including sewage outfalls, cooling water outfalls and desal intakes. Those areas generally use similar principles and similar sets of equipment and we just apply it to slightly different situations,” said Brady.
Brady is a civil engineer and his business has a very strong engineering focus. They have an inhouse engineering design team and, according to Brady, that’s not the norm for the market these days.
“We believe it’s important for all the planning that goes into marine works with associated temporary works and engineering associated with barge work. Marine works also lend themselves to alternative designs, as the methodology tends to drive the most efficient design. Historically, successful marine contractors have had inhouse engineering departments and that’s something that has died off. It’s an area in which we want to differentiate ourselves,” he said.
“We currently have a payroll of 80 with half our staff white collar and the other half, blue collar. There’s 15 or so in the office, including the engineering team, accounts and some senior managers and the remainder are out on various sites. We’re currently running five sites, including one in Sydney, one on the Gold Coast and two in Brisbane, so we’re often travelling for projects.
“Generally speaking, most of the work we undertake includes activities categorised as high risk, so we maintain a work force that is highly skilled. Most of our employees hold more than one license and are able to undertake a number of different tasks. The skilling of our workforce is very much a priority for the business.
“The biggest project we’ve completed had a value of $60 million, and we’re working on a $75m contract at the moment. We’ve also undertaken contracts around the million mark. Complex marine projects are sometimes below the radar of the multinationals and certainly above the capabilities of the smaller contractors, so this is an area we like to target” he said.
Brady Marine and Civil has a crane fleet reflecting the specialist nature of the work.
“We currently own 6 cranes, all crawlers, with a 300t, Liebherr LR1300 the largest, until now. Innovation drives our industry as it does many others. Each year piles get longer, larger and heavier, as do the piling hammers required to install them. Precast concrete elements also keep increasing in size. As an example, our largest barge was used to install 180t precast concrete girders 30m above the Clarence River on a bridge job last year. Our LR1300 has been working above 80 per cent capacity for many lifts and on its last two projects, so a larger crane that will take us to the next level has been on the agenda for a while,” said Brady.
“We’re not a crane hire company, we are a marine contractor, so our focus when shopping for a major crane is different from many crane-buying customers. Besides lift capacity and crane footprint, minimum radius and tail swing are priority considerations for a crane on a barge, while issues such as track pressures, assembly costs and transport weights are of lesser importance. The LR1500 purchase was the culmination of almost a year of market research and technical studies into what would suit us best.
“The new LR1500 will replace the LR1300 on our largest barge Rebecca Lily at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, where it will be used to drive 4.3m diameter marine monopiles using a piling hammer assembly from Europe with a total lift of 163 tonnes. Interestingly this puts us back above 80 per cent capacity, so we might have to start thinking about an even bigger crane,” he jokes.
The Brady fleet ranges from 135t to the new 500t and the brands include Kobelco, Liebherr and IHI. The three large cranes operate on big barges and the other two on load out jetties and associated work.
“Having the crawlers enables us to swap and change. If a job needs a different size crane on a barge, we can take one off and put another one on, that way we can vary the way the combinations work to suit different projects. Also, we sometimes use what we call a temporary bridge or a ‘falsework bridge’ for projects in mud flats or where there’s a sea state where a crane barge is not practical,” said Brady.
“We build a ‘falsework bridge’ out from the shore and we do that with crawler cranes as well. The ‘falsework bridge’ can be installed parallel to the alignment of a new bridge or a subsea pipeline, or we sometimes use it as a load out jetty to service a project such as Harwood Bridge, where we were last year.
“Everything in our game is getting heavier and longer and further away and it’s not just our market, it’s the market generally. Innovation is seeing projects completed quicker by having heavier lifts and less of them. The 300t was getting on jobs where we were having trouble making it work in terms of capacity, and a year ago we identified the need to take the next step and looked through the market to see what was available around that 400t to 500t size,” said Brady.
“Cranes on barges have different drivers with lift capacity, crane footprint, minimum radius and tail swing being priorities; the Liebherr LR 1500 really excelled in all areas. We also bought the super lift which opens up possibilities to be able to do a lot more with it further down the track.
“I have been impressed by Liebherr and the engineering they put into the product. That’s not to say the other manufacturers don’t, it’s just that Liebherr do it a bit differently. Crane work on barges is also different because of the way the barge moves as lifts are carried out. Based on the performance of the 300t and the support provided
by Liebherr, we had every confidence
in the 500t and, so far, we are really stoked with the choice, it’s a great unit,” said Brady.