No Job Too Large or Small

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-By John Boley

Goodline is a company that is hard to categorise. It’s privately owned and was formed originally in 1999 to provide professional construction services in support of the mining industry. Goodline can provide services ranging from project conception and management through to ongoing maintenance for civil, mining, and port and marine sectors, and government and local authorities. The company’s services include steel fabrication and erection, demolition, scaffolding, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, civil and mechanical. They will also fix your washing machine.

Owner John Kennedy and Dwayne Finch, General Manager, have their office in Kawana Waters on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast but spend up to 80 per cent of their time on the other side of the country supervising work in Western Australia, primarily around Port Hedland.

John started the business in 1999 in Weipa with the original intention of providing a pool of labour for Rio Tinto. “There are two mines up in Weipa that we service,” says John, “and we do a very wide range of things there – anything from mechanical, structural, civil works, to electrical and plumbing.”

Around seven years ago, John went west to Port Hedland and created a similar division there, a decision that was supported and driven by the State Manager Mick Farrell. Today, around 80 per cent of all Goodline’s work is in Port Hedland, although some two years ago John and Dwayne added a small base in Darwin to the company’s facilities.

Having a base out east and work out west is hardly convenient, surely? But it is, says John. “The cost of labour for administration is very competitive here (on the Sunshine Coast) so it is economical. The workers are also highly skilled as they move from larger cities such as Melbourne and Sydney for the sea change. We administrate everything from here, even the work we do in WA.” Dwayne points out that there are plans in train to expand operations in Queensland too.

“We have also increased our level of middle management, with operations, projects and division managers recently employed to assist our state managers. We have Mick Farrell running Western Australia, Rob Potter in Queensland and Alfie Wong in the Northern Territory. All these guys along with Dwayne have worked for me for a considerable amount of time,” says John, “and for that reason they have acquired a safe, honest and hard working culture that has dispersed throughout our business.”

Goodline has excellent relationships with major clients in both resources and construction, servicing a lot of iron ore operations, including some for BHP and FMG. “We also do bauxite for Rio Tinto and uranium up in Jabiru in the Northern Territory, as well as coal in Queensland.”

“Currently we are carrying out research for business development in the coal industry in Queensland. We have expanded ourselves quite well in the iron ore industry over in the west, so that will be our next focus, however it is a strategic plan so we do not over-commit ourselves; we need to maintain the high level of delivery we have today. We are in that phase already and we have just recently completed a project up at Abbot Point Coal Terminal for North Queensland Bulk Ports.” This project consisted mainly of a conveyor upgrade – mechanical, electrical and civil works – as part of a joint venture. The main part of Goodline’s work on the project consisted of refurbishing one conveyor to maximise capacity, changing it from a 1.8 metre wide belt to a 2 metre wide belt.

Goodline has developed its own innovative approach to suit the conditions emerging in WA (in particular, though evident and growing in other parts of Australia too). “Our focus is pre-assembly building.” This involves a lot of careful planning and precision but can offset issues such as shortages of staff or lack of local accommodation near sites, and keep costs down if it’s done properly. Goodline began last year with a ship loader built for Port Hedland Port Authority. “We built it down at the Australian Marine complex at Anderson in WA. We completed the job in a little under four months, then we shipped it to Port Hedland. It was a lift-on down at Australian Marine Complex and a lift-off onto the facility on rail up at Port Hedland Port Authority, at the Utah Point berth.”

Now, Goodline is expanding the concept. Currently it is pre-assembling transfer stations for Fortescue Metals Group, again using the Australian Marine Complex as its ‘base’. One reason for considering pre-assembly, John explains, is that labour costs are lower in and around the Perth area than up at the site. There is also a tremendous and pressing shortage of accommodation anywhere around the Pilbara. So this process is able to save on up to 40 or even 50 people in comparison with assembly at the site itself, for this particular project.

“We finally found a client who was convinced of this arrangement,” both John and Dwayne acknowledge. “At first, they actually wanted us to assemble the conveyor modules and align them up at the site. But I suggested that would cost time and money – for them and for us; we were focused on accelerating the project and reducing cost were possible.” The main point was the accommodation shortage in Port Hedland. “They didn’t have the rooms so it would need to get done in Perth.” They went through the concept with the client: originally, John suggested four jigs for the conveyor modules (although in the end they built just two), which would lock everything in. Then careful surveys were made (another company did the foundations in Port Hedland), “and we surveyed those foundations and made sure they were the same as what the jig was on. If they weren’t, then we adjusted them to suit. We didn’t need any survey with the jig because it is all just measurement.”

Goodline surveys its jigs once a week “for QA reasons and for our own satisfaction.” There are two alignment points on the modules and when they are properly aligned, it is a matter of bolting together “and we are finished. I think we are doing something like 30 a day, aligned and finished, and I believe the best we have done in a single day was 36. I won’t say it’s easy but it’s an extremely good system.”

The company logo features a white cockatoo. “I bought the business from someone up in Weipa,” says John, and it had a black cockatoo on it. I just changed it to a white cockatoo because there are more white cockatoos than black cockatoos.” It made a pleasant change from the “squiggly lines” that everyone else had on their logos, he says, and “it has been proved right, to be honest. A squiggly line means nothing – every company looks the same. But everybody recognises our logo. Even the Chinese love it.”

The Chinese? “We have some staff in China at the moment who are doing quality inspections on all the portable camp housing that is being brought in for BHP, FMG, Rio Tinto and some others.” This is now being built to Australian standards and Goodline’s personnel are concerned mainly with ensuring quality and supervising the construction of the portable housing.

This work came out of a situation where a company had brought a large number of Chinese-built buildings into the Pilbara area and Goodline was asked to take a look at them. They were, says Dwayne, not really fit for use. “We carried out the repairs on them, but it was an expensive business for the client, who eventually asked us to go to China and supervise. Mick Farrell started negotiations with CIMC and we have had staff over there for more than three years now and it is increasing.”

John and Dwayne spend a lot of their time commuting back and forth from east to west and back, but they both stress they want to be involved with local communities. Hence the washing machines. “We are happy to work on a wide variety of projects, that’s how we keep the business ticking over in all three divisions – Weipa, Port Hedland and Darwin. We service the local community as well; we don’t just provide a service for the iron ore business or the bauxite business. We also work for the wider community in projects such as roads, footpaths, we’ll fix washing machines or stoves, we can do electrical work, even domestic building.” They both agree there’s something different, every day, to stop them ever getting bored.

Another feature of Goodline is its own fleet of equipment. “In all the places we work we have a great range of equipment, so in our maintenance operations we are self-sufficient.” The company does sometimes hire in machinery for its project works “but in our three maintenance locations we are very self-sufficient in machinery and operators.” Goodline has everything ranging from 15 tonne frannas to 130 tonne mobile cranes, large excavators, semi trailers, prime movers, “together with a very good surveying team who can just about align anything and have all the latest gear to go with it. There is also some innovative hardware we have supplied to the construction industry too.”

Summing up, John Kennedy says: “We are a young and enthusiastic team, and we are very good at building relationships with clients. There is no problem we can’t sit down and discuss with them. We are open-book, and that is how our relationship works with our clientele.” Dwayne agrees, pointing out that everyone in the company, “from senior management through to the TAs,” shares their characteristics and commitment. For the future, the white cockatoo is set to be focused on the iron ore industry, but will expand into the coal industry in Queensland as the business development permits.

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’?

December 13, 2019, 4:26 PM AEDT