New South Wales, Projects

Melrose manages complex lift and logistics project

The Sydney Gateway flyover is taking off next to the airport with the first four of 17 massive concrete headstocks. Each weighed more than a full Boeing 737 and have been installed at Mascot as part of the NSW government’s $2.6 billion Sydney Gateway project.

The headstocks each stand at more than six metres tall and will support an 800-metre long elevated road, giving motorists a toll-free connection to the airport. 

Melrose Cranes and Rigging managed the complex lifts with some of its heavy Grove all terrains, but the project wouldn’t have been so successful without detailed planning and a coordinated approach from both the Melrose project management and logistics teams.

“This was one of those major projects where I was like a dog with a bone and I wouldn’t let go of it. So, once contracted, I put Michael Guthrie on point for Melrose Cranes and Rigging,” said managing director Gregg Melrose.  

 MCR project manager Michael Guthrie said: “I managed the project from a Melrose Cranes and Rigging perspective. The project involved a number of complexities, including the major road closures that were required to make the lifts happen. There were meetings almost every day, involving intricate planning and coordination by all invested parties. 

 “The major challenge with the Sydney Gateway project is the lack of space to physically get the required amount of equipment into position to conduct the lifts, which can only happen at night, and the operational hours were very limited,” he said. 

 “We couldn’t close the required roads around the airport until 8pm, which meant we had to get our 400t capacity Grove all terrain with 115t of counterweight, and all the associated trucks and trailers, ready and in position in various places close to the site. We had seven hours within which we had to set up the crane, install the headstock, pack up, and be out before 4am, so as not to delay the airport traffic arriving before the first flights left at 6am,” said Guthrie. 

 “We prepared 3D lift plans and engineering drawings to ensure everything was 100 per cent accurate, which allowed us to make on-the-spot planning changes as required, and as the job progressed. 

 “There were two or three meetings a week prior to the lift, and we literally accounted for every half hour increments. This accountability gave the client the confidence we could handle the various elements of the project,” said Guthrie. 

 For Melrose Cranes and Rigging, the project would not have happened without a carefully detailed plan relating to the logistics of the project, said Guthrie.

Melrose Cranes and Rigging only had seven hours to set up the crane, install the headstock, pack up, and be out before 4am.

 “As far as traffic is concerned, Sydney International Airport has some of the most congested road access points imaginable. The Sydney Gateway investment is designed to address these congestion problems,” he said. 

 The Grove GMK 6400 400t capacity all terrain was deployed for the first visit to lift two head stocks. The crane managed the lift with 115t of counterweight and main boom. 

The Grove GMK7450 450t capacity all terrain was then deployed with 120t of counterweight and main boom. The lift involved head stocks weighing over 100t, with the heaviest headstock weighing 130t. 

 “With the Grove GMK7450, 450t capacity all terrain we had seven trucks and trailers carrying the required counterweights and lifting equipment parked nearby and ready to go when we knew the road closures had happened,”
said Guthrie. 

 For the first two head stock lifts, the detailed planning paid off because Sydney was hit with torrential rain on the nights of the lifts. 

 “Our heavy lift crews understand if it is a night time time sensitive project involving road closures and they don’t complain. I was there side by side with the guys in atrocious conditions, and we simply worked through what needed to be done,” said Guthrie.  

 “There are more lifts to come, and the next head stock will weigh 145t. We are deploying the Liebherr LTM 1500 8.1 500t capacity all terrain for this lift.” 

 Understandably, with critical projects like the Sydney Gateway, the larger crane hire businesses in Sydney have been tendering for the work. The next stage of the project included head stocks that were much larger and heavier.  

 Melrose Cranes and Rigging was tendering against a number of Sydney crane hire businesses, Guthrie explained. 

 “With the next stage of the project, the Sydney Gateway team were told they would need a 650t and 500t capacity cranes to manage the lifts. I was able to make these lifts work with our Grove GMK 6400 Grove GMK7450.  

 “I looked at the head stocks, I spoke to the various teams on the project, and we discussed what was involved in terms of the road closures and the detail involved in the lifts. I then worked out how we could get close enough to make the lifts happen with these capacity cranes. I then provided the teams with the 3D draft of the plan, which answered any questions they had. 

“The Sydney Gateway team was impressed that we were able to work on a different solution that provides a far better dollar value. It also means the team continues to see the same faces and they now understand what Melrose Cranes and Rigging brings to the project,” he said. 

 The project would not have run so smoothly without the total support of Melrose Cranes and Rigging’s entire logistics team (Shaun Russell, Wei Xen [Wilson] Cheah and Ann-Marie Docksey) and the crane crews who went above and beyond to make the lifts happen within such tight timelines, and in inclement weather. 

 Cheah discusses the complexities involved in making such a time sensitive project work from a logistics point of view. 

“Michael always briefs us in terms of what size cranes are required and we arrange for the various crews to get inducted onto the site,” he said.

“He confirms dates, times, the machines required, the crews and the required skill set, and it is our job to ensure all this detail is ready to go come the project. 

 “The induction process is quite involved and can take up to six hours to complete. We also organise the upskilling of the team in terms of working at heights and elevated work platforms tickets, which were required on site for safety purposes. We also ensure the rigging equipment is checked and ready to go along with the cranes, obviously. 

“The logistics team in a large crane hire business is basically managing a game of chess. Every time something changes you have to be able to react and put in place the right solution to cover the change. This can involve crew, cranes, and many other variables and include working early hours to ensure we get the right crane and crew to site,” said Cheah.

Melrose Cranes and Rigging’s Wei Xen (Wilson) Cheah from the logistics team and project manager Michael Guthrie.

Melrose Cranes and Rigging runs an internal training program designed to bring promising youngsters up and through the business by starting them in the yard, enabling them to understand the business from the bottom up. Both Guthrie and Cheah worked their way up through this program.  

 Guthrie was 19 when he started with Melrose Cranes and Rigging and he has been with the organisation for eight years.  

 Gregg Melrose said that he is proud of the Melrose Cranes and Rigging traineeship program and Guthrie is the fastest individual to complete the process. 

 “We have a traineeship program called ‘Gofers in the Shed’ and we are up to our 19th trainee. Usually, the trainees will remain in the program for between eight to 12 months but, after three months, we knew Michael was good enough to move quickly through the ranks,” he said. 

 Guthrie started dogging on a 25t rough terrain and, after two months, he had moved onto 100t capacity all terrain. Within a year he was on a 220t and, a year later, he was the lead on the 400t. He moved into the role of project manager 18 months ago. 

The Sydney Gateway team is very happy with Melrose Cranes and Rigging. It’s a major project and there are numerous crane businesses working on the various elements of the Sydney Metro project. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet is also happy with the progress being made on the Sydney Gateway project, saying it was yet another milestone in the NSW government’s $110 billion infrastructure pipeline.  

“This is a transformative project that will get people to and from Sydney Airport faster, supporting more than 4,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, while modernising our road network,” Perrottet said.  

“This is yet another example of the NSW government’s decade of delivery, which has transformed Greater Sydney and NSW while vastly improving quality of life for residents and businesses.  

“It is because of our strong economic management that we are able to continue to deliver both the mega projects and the smaller scale community projects that make such a big difference to how people live their lives each day.”  

Minister for infrastructure, cities and active transport Rob Stokes said 17 headstocks weighing more than 90 tonnes each would be installed to support the flyover road.  

“Businesses in Western Sydney and regional NSW have been integral to this project, with the headstocks manufactured in Picton using steel made in Western Sydney, all to support 34-metre long steel and concrete girders made in Maitland,” Stokes said.  

“Sydney Gateway is great news for local residents also, giving them an additional three kilometres of new pedestrian and cycle paths along the Alexandra Canal. 

“Over the past decade, NSW has gone from being laggards to leaders on infrastructure and Sydney Gateway is yet another example of how we’re delivering a brighter future for NSW families.”  

Minister for metropolitan roads Natalie Ward said Sydney Gateway will have the capacity to carry 100,000 vehicles daily and slash travel times to and from the airport when it opens to traffic at the end of 2024.  

“One of the key features of Sydney Gateway is the landmark Australian steel arch bridge connecting to the international terminal, that will be wider than the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Ward said.  

“This project will help slash travel times from Parramatta to Sydney Airport by up to 40 minutes in the morning peak, bypassing 26 sets of traffic lights.  

“In addition to the travel time savings, the Sydney Gateway will also deliver stunning Indigenous artwork and designs on the flyover, walls, underpass, and paths, making for an iconic entrance to
Australia’s largest airport for travellers
and motorists.”

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