Evolution in Action


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In the construction industry, one must innovate to stay ahead. It is not enough to rest on reputation; as quality standards evolve and competing firms enter the marketplace, self-improvement and the capacity for reinvention are critical to the success of any company. Brown Steel, a Toowoomba-based steel fabrication firm, understands this. In its fifteen years of successful operation, Brown Steel has established itself not only as a leader in its field, but as a proactive and progressive company which meets challenges head-on.

Specializing in the fabrication and erection of structural steel, Brown Steel was incorporated in 1995, and now services clients throughout Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Working out of its newly constructed facility in the Charlton Integrated Employment Precinct, Brown Steel tackles large-scale projects in a variety of realms – commercial, industrial, defence, mining, and infrastructure. The company is able to see its clients through all stages of a project, from in-house drafting, to component procurement, to fabrication, to surface preparation, to transportation, and finally to erection of the finished product. This commitment to meeting the client’s needs from start to finish has enabled Brown to build up a reputation of trust, integrity, and quality.

“Brown Steel,” say Messrs. Pat Brown, Managing Director, and Andrew Clem, Operations Manager, “is a company that has evolved with the industry”. Rather than resting on its status and its name, Brown continually seeks out new and better ways to do things. Its internal processes – Quality Assurance, safety, materials handling, software, and manufacturing – are constantly advancing, as bigger and more challenging projects drive the development of new methods. Its approach to human resources, too, is proactive. Brown is quick to sit down with top players in the industry who are looking for a change, and welcomes the ideas, skills, and expertise that new people bring to the table. Brown also identifies and trains students and apprentices, ultimately seeking to provide them with full-time employment within the company.

Of course, it is not enough to simply be innovative. To deliver quality work, a construction firm must combine innovation with technical expertise. To this end, Brown Steel boasts a management team with over 200 years collective experience as well as a top-level Quality Assurance program based on ISO 9001 principles. The company employs modern 3D modelling and drafting techniques and maintains a 2555m2 workshop, providing the capacity and resources to fabricate about 100 tons of steel per week. Combined with the comprehensive software traceability program StruMIS, its own skilled tradespeople, and an in-house fleet of transport equipment, Brown has translated its know-how into a streamlined and manageable system, giving everyone involved the confidence that things are on track.

Also fundamental to Brown’s success is its company culture. Built on the six basic principles of trust, teamwork, credibility, quality, balance, and commitment, the work environment of Brown Steel is one which clearly values people over products, and which has been described as a “relaxed, yet productive environment”. Like many successful construction firms, Brown extends its focus on relationships to the client as well as the employee. Project managers liaise with clients and their representatives, and Brown prides itself on following through and following up – addressing client concerns, making necessary changes, and maintaining strong communication throughout the entire process. As Mr. Brown says, client relationships are critical to his company’s success, and are “built on trust and nurtured by integrity”.

Such an approach has enabled Brown Steel to become one of Australia’s go-to firms for providing major infrastructure support to both the defence and resource sectors. As Messrs. Brown and Clem state, the company’s defence projects have proven to be some of its most noteworthy and demanding, spurring new developments in Brown’s quality and management systems with the unique challenges they pose. Brown’s projects based at Canungra, Enoggera, and Amberley, in particular, have, in Mr. Brown’s words, “contributed significantly to the development of [the] company”; spanning a three-year period, these efforts required continual liaising with clients, engineers, architects, and contractors to keep on top of the work, and compelled the company to continually revise its management, communication, and production methods. The Springfield rail interchange project, too, posed some unique construction challenges; a joint venture with Horizon Alliance, John Holland, Main Roads, and Queensland Rail, the project featured unique waved roof lines, a substantial pedestrian foot bridge, and significant safety and quality requirements, challenges which Brown Steel was able to meet and even exceed.

Presently, Brown is working on the Barrett Burston Malting facility at Pinkenba with Built Environs Queensland. The job features a variety of different structures including conveyors, stair towers, and steel framed buildings, and poses the unique challenge of limited space on site, requiring Brown to fabricate and deliver its steel in very specific stages. Please see sidebars for more examples of Brown Steel’s most challenging projects, both past and present.

Ultimately, the success of Brown Steel lies in its multi-faceted approach. This is a firm which truly has the entire package; a valued and highly qualified workforce, strong client relationships, technical skill, and the drive to grow as a company. As the company itself states, “our commitment to quality is uncompromised. As far as we are concerned, there is no such thing as perfection. There is always room for improvement”. This open and progressive approach to both internal systems and physical construction work has ensured that Brown is consistently at the top of its game – and even as that game may change, Brown Steel has the capacity to change right along with it.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 16, 2020, 11:10 AM AEST