To Maximum Capacity and Beyond

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-By Aleisha Parr

Amid growing market demands across Australia for new, sustainable infrastructure, Halcrow Group is utilising its extensive expertise and internationally developed skill sets to not only provide infrastructure services to clients, but also to assist in key capacity planning measures.

Says George Spink, Managing Director for Halcrow Group, “We have a broad skill range from water management and natural resources capabilities, through to our economists and engineers, and more. Our unique positioning is to bring that plethora of skills together to help clients solve capacity uncertainty, capacity forecasting, and capacity planning around infrastructure and related services.”

Halcrow Group has a long and rich history reaching all the way back to 1868 when Thomas Meik founded the company (at the time named for Mr Meik), for work on port, maritime and railway projects throughout northern England and Scotland. Sir William Halcrow had also been progressing the company in the early 20th century as “a pioneering force in other areas, notably tunnelling,” and the company name was changed in 1941 to “˜Sir William Halcrow and Partners’, later to be established as a public company listed under the same name in 1985.

A little over a decade later, after experiencing growth across numerous markets (and indeed, countries and continents), the company and all of its assorted businesses and divisions were united under the one name, Halcrow Group Limited. Today, Halcrow Group employs approximately 6000 people internationally through its network of ninety-eight offices around the world.

The Australian arm of Halcrow Group was established in 1993, with a staff of just three in the original Sydney office and has since grown to include offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, with a total of approximately two hundred and twenty employees. As a key part of the Halcrow Group Australasian super region, alongside operations throughout Southeast Asia and India, the Australian arm of Halcrow Group enjoys the benefits of skills sharing while also contributing significantly through its own local expertise. Explains Mr Spink, “We have a good structure where we share resources across the globe… Halcrow Group initially grew up very strong in the tunnelling area, that’s one of our key areas, so there’s obviously a lot of capability for that in the UK and elsewhere, but also equally in Australia we have a very strong tunnelling capability and other skill groups we are very strong in, and we share that with the UK and vice versa.”

In fact, the tunnelling team in Australia is so strong that a select crew has been working in Hong Kong with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation to help develop the line ventilation. Explains Mr Spink, “It’s been a pilot project, as we carried out ideas for how the ventilation was done… you can actually reduce the height of some of those buildings and you can actually create green roofs on top of those buildings and not only help with construction costs but also give a bit of a feel from a green perspective.”

Due to the complex nature of infrastructure capacity solutions, Halcrow Group has developed a broad range of specialties and capabilities, with an exceptional staff to support those areas. Boasts Mr Spink, “We have very strong people in tunnelling in particular; we probably have some of the world’s leading experts in tunnelling. We’ve got some strong water capabilities, and rail is a strong area for us – we’ve got involved with the NSW government procurement of some new trains. We’re not procuring them, per se, but we’re helping the government actually get the trains they’re after, so we’ve got some leading rail experts. And then certainly in transport planning, we have a strong capability in helping people plan traffic flow for government, local government and councils.”

At the moment, those talents are focussed on two main areas of infrastructure development. Resource industry support is strongest in WA, QLD and parts of NSW, where mining booms have created a strong and continuously evolving market for services such as water management and road and rail. Government funded initiatives throughout VIC and NSW are only just beginning to ramp up and gain momentum as the funding comes through, thereby increasing the number of city infrastructure projects available.

With the resources sector continuing to offer a steady stream of demanding but lucrative opportunities requiring capacity expertise, Halcrow Group has been quick to set itself apart in the industry as a solutions-based, progressive company. Most notably, Halcrow Group has been teaming up with large mining corporations, working together from the outset to establish water management systems and requirements. Explains Mr Spink, “We get involved with companies like Santos and Rio Tinto to help them manage their water and help it get returned to back to the streams or rivers once it’s been through the processing. So we do get involved in giving them early and up front advice about water and water demand management.”

Another area in which Halcrow Group has been an industry leader is non-destructive testing of rock anchors, especially important in long-wear mining. These anchor bolts are commonly used in large mines and tunnels to help hold the rock faces and ensure safe passageways for workers. Halcrow Group holds the license to this innovative non-destructive technique for testing the bolts to ensure that any bolts which have been compromised through continued use are replaced.

Halcrow Group has been looking at sustainability and green initiatives in order to offer the most advanced and useful solutions. One such project on which Halcrow Group is working collaboratively with the Victorian Government involves the creation of a new type of concrete that emits lower levels of carbon into the environment. The material Halcrow Group has developed is a fibre reinforced geopolymar concrete, which will thus reduce the level of embodied carbon in the concrete.

Halcrow Group is also currently involved in areas such as public transport, assisting with feasibility studies for rail networks and rail links. The purpose of these studies is to offer insight into the most effective ways of encouraging people to switch over from private cars to public transport in order to reduce the congestion on roads and emissions into the environment.

Through these and other forward-thinking measures, Halcrow Group is able not only to assist its clients in moving beyond current capacity, but is frequently able to go further to assist clients in establishing more sustainable systems so as to increase productivity and outcomes before maximum capacity is reached.

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’?

September 27, 2020, 4:37 AM AEST