Yardy I'm talking fabrication shops not projects or sites.
There are no seriously large shops up the east coast I know of, hell I reckon the ASI would tell you the same thing. I might ask ian or mike next time one of them is in my office. Admittedly QLD and NSW have much larger shops than Vic. But compared to WA and more so SA, nup. How many shops do you know of with more than 200 blokes on the floor? There aren't many In Australia let alone up the east coast. Hell what we call a large shop is small(ish) on a global scale. The shops in europe blow my mind. The sheer scale of them is beyond my comprehension. Would I like to be that size - honestly no. I'd love the experiance of working in a shop at that scale though.
Production wise man to weight output Australia is huge for the industry. Resource sector is slow in my experiance. I've worked the sector and pulled out as I got frustrated with the politics, red tape, hand washing and indemnity. Construction sector has the same issues with the publicly listed companies. Note most of the bigger players in resource are publicly listed. Australia is a very small (miniscule) producer of steel and a small consumer of steel. Note I'm talking steel not ore.
As for me securing contracts - I have no issues at present. I'm actually turning opportunities away in construction. The construction industry is doing pretty well even if the media would have you believe other wise. We've had a clean out and some unstable opperators have had the carpet pulled from under them which often happens as an ecconomy turns. I've also done work in FNQ, WA, SA Tassie, PNG etc for resource sector and In all honesty I try to avoid it where possible unless its for a good existing client (most of whom never do further work in the sector after they realise what a head case it can be). That RCM job still ended up going to a vic fabby because of TJH relationship with them and because no QLD fabby was interested.
My last job in resource was a gantry for a pipeline project in PNG. Simple job. I brought the job in cut notched and drilled. Just bring it in and weld it together. Didn't even require surface treatment. Supplied shop drawings and some auxillary consultation engineering requirements. Then they wanted to send in their QA inpectors and NDT our work. Sure no worries we'll be starting on it in 3 weeks (we're talking less than 100tonne of steel). They're all jumping up and down threatening litigation etc etc. We can't work out what the hell they're on about as the deadline to meet the ship is 8 weeks away. We end up calming them down and call in a few favours with opposition companies to take on some of our work load to pull their job ahead of schedual. Next thing they come in to do their inspections and I've got 1/3 of my shop on their job and the rest on another far more involved job. They see what were doing and go "oh you guys do some big stuff and obviously know what your doing". Uhh you think? We've only been doing it for the past 44 years. We ended up being 3 weeks early on delivery and they wouldnt take it early they fucked us up for delivery as I had no hard stand area left. I tore them a new on on variations and charged them for storage and I had a greater than 99.5% first pass on NDT (two out of my 3 knock backs were mill issues where a hairline on the flange where the web meets became visible on xray, so not even my issue). But to top it all off I had to cut my boys back to basic hours no over time at the end of the job because they fucked my scheduling up because they didn't believe we were capable of meeting their deadline (which ended up being pushed back even further and I had the steel sitting around in one of my transport companies yards for 10 weeks on extendables). I'm used to having my delivery dates pulled in not pushed out. I can always work with more stress. You back that off and the knock on effect is dire.
My issue with resource (and large PE) is everything becomes so red taped (and lets not bullshit none of us want to see someone hurt or worse in a workplace) because of safety concerns and they extend that into sub contract manufacturers workplaces - which I wholely agree with. Infact my boss is a work cover advisor and we are used in a lot of safety documentation for our industry. But the problem is that most publicly listed companies go to private insurers to avoid work cover costs. To do so there are more strict safety guidelines and they are more specficially developed, and thats great. Where it goes wrong is that these same companies then source from the lowest cost able to supply the demand - which regularly means product comes from developing nations with little to no regard to OHE&S. This means that your job site which might have a 1000 day 0 incident rate might actually be responsible for several deaths overseas. But share holders dont care. In order to protect against litigation everything becomes subcontracted with most deemed employees actually being little more than pawns used to oversee, inspect and QC. Fact is that unless its a really huge project where pressure from the ASI (who im not the biggest fan of because of their relations with bluescope but thats a story for a differnt day but in these cases they do good for the industry) and the unions to use local content is really applied a large amount of manufacturing for the sector comes from offshore.
What amuses me the most is that even with all this red tape the accidents that do occur like the dropped/rolled reclaimer gantry boom at karratha a fortnight ago. You imagine if that happened in an urban area. You'd go a row of shit houses. Resource sector it hardly makes the local rag.
You might have a differnt experiance but thats my experiance working in the sector. I'm also talking more about the management (style) of operations not the workers as such which I see now reading back on what I wrote how you could have read that and if thats the way you've read it then I appologise that wasnt the intent.
Too much time and effort is spent protecting and returning dividends for investors. Which is what happens when you have shareholders to appease.
Don't get me wrong they're obviously doing something right cause they're making money. But the circles and hoops and paperwork, constant whinging and legals means its not for me.
I am really critical of the industry because of its lack of support for local content. But I guess thats cause I'm young(er) and manufacturing is my future. Australian industry as a whole if pretty bad at supporting itself though. From manufacture to agriculture we off shore it at every opportunity. Make a quick buck today forget about the future.
It does however amuses me how much people think resources are the be all and end all of australian industry. Fact is that its the smallest employer and has one of the smallest net casts of employment. Yes it brings in massive amounts through export, taxes etc but how it actually affects ecconomy is largely blown out of proportion. Yes its important - no its not our only export money maker. Media and current political climate doesnt help this.
As for unions. Unions are important. Very important. Whilst I dont have a union shop here (Although we have a union EBA) all my site boys are in their respective unions (well lets be honest irrespective of laws you have to be union to work on site or life is made very difficult). Where that goes wrong is with extremists. Like anything thats an (dis)organised movement there are those who just take things to the next level doing more harm than good. For the most part though unions are there for the workers and keep most rogue bastards honest. Yes I have my whinges about unions but I have to conceed that over all they do a good job (these days). I do however wonder how long unions will remain as they are with the harnessed power of social media coming on.
Edit: BTW a large amount of dalrymple bay was made in Melbourne by Page. Lynne is a good friend of my boss. Shes a very good opperator and I'd love to work with her at some stage. Page actually process a lot of steel for us via our merchants as they do sub contract processing for at least 3 of the 5 larger merchants in Vic. Mind you the biggest distributor in Australia is in victoria and even they get page to do work for them because of the systems and machinery they have.