Industrial Construction Specialists

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

When APEX Building Systems Pty Ltd was created by founder John McKenzie in 1988, it began as a modest operation, with John taking on almost all aspects of construction, from designing the structures to welding the frame and erecting the finished product. Before forming APEX John – a welder by trade – worked for other building companies, erecting rural farm sheds and other buildings. Today, over two decades later, the privately-owned company still under the leadership of John McKenzie and Manager Luke Franks, has a permanent staff of 20 people and remains strategically located in the thriving North Western Region of Sydney. A leader in the industrial construction sector, APEX has an established reputation for providing its clients with superior customer service, designs that are practical for large-scale applications, and quality buildings constructed using a blend of time-tested craftsmanship and the latest technologies.

Realising that every client is unique and building needs vary widely from one project to another, the skilled team at APEX is focused not only on design and construction, but on customer satisfaction. Staff at the company believe that only by taking the time to understand and appreciate the needs of each and every client can the very best results be obtained. This positive and open attitude – combined with decades of hands-on experience – has enabled APEX to foster relationships with customers old and new over the years. Much of APEX’s work comes from return customers and valued word-of-mouth referrals resulting in a steady workload and a culture of ensuring that the “˜right thing is done for all customers at all times.’

To guarantee the success of its projects, APEX has on-site day to day foremen looking after their allocated sites and maintaining regular contact with clients. At the present time, the company has six projects underway. Current and past valued clients include major building supplier Metroll Building Supplies, Valvoline Australia, Ditch Witch, and Worthington BMW. Recently, the firm completed a large project for Metro Engineering with offices and overhead cranes in the suburb of St Marys NSW.

Along with having its own steel fabrication plant, APEX Building Systems has positioned itself as a one-stop building solutions company, starting literally from the ground up. Unlike many of its competitors, APEX has its own earthmoving equipment, making it well suited to serve the construction needs of all clients. With the experience, tools, techniques, fabrication facilities and machinery, the talented staff at APEX are able to make the vision of all their clients a reality.

By dealing with APEX Building Systems, customers can rest easy, knowing they are working with an established, reputable firm that understands and appreciates their needs. At APEX, the company’s experienced staff are able to offer clients a vast range of services from start to finish for any project. These include: complete architectural in-house design facilities; obligation-free consultation and quotation; building design liaison with customers; and handling all council and authorities applications and approvals.

“We look after all of the design aspects from initial concepts to final working drawings, so customers can come to us with a vacant block of land, and we can design their building and get all their approvals for them,” says Manager Luke Franks. “We design based on our extensive experience with industrial buildings resulting in a functional and economical facility for our customer.”

One of the many reasons APEX Building Systems stands apart from the competition is that it maintains its own in-house steel fabrication plant, which is equipped with the tools and staff necessary to take on large-scale projects. From the main office in South Windsor, New South Wales, APEX has draftsmen carrying out fabrication drawings and trained factory staff completing the fabrication duties. While some competitors are starting to use steel that has been fabricated overseas and imported to Australia for erection, APEX is continuing the tradition of fabricating and erecting its own product. “By designing, fabricating and erecting our own steelwork we have firm control over the interface between steelwork and concrete panels resulting in very little downtime from errors or misfitting components.”

Just as the company regularly takes on warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other massive structures which feature expansive floor space, it also handles tall structures. “Height is not a limitation,” comments Luke. “We’ve done warehouse buildings that are 15 metres tall to suit high-level pallet racking systems.

Along with manufacturing and erecting large clear span structural steel structures, APEX is widely known for its expertise in concrete panel design and construction. Clean and functional, buildings made of pre-cast and tilt-slab concrete make excellent use of available land space, and provide an extremely efficient workspace for customers by allowing floor areas to remain unobstructed. These types of structures also maintain the ability to be customised to the needs of the individual client. There are many advantages to buildings made of concrete panel, and they are especially suitable to industrial and warehouse facilities, distribution centres, and business parks.

“In business parks, there are lots of small units and office areas that must be fire-separated between tenancies, and the walls between all those units are our concrete panels and boundary walls,” says Luke. “They are suitable for virtually all industrial and commercial applications, and there are many advantages to this technology, especially when it comes to security, durability, and fire ratings. Every building is a bit different, and there is no standard one panel that fits all buildings on an industrial site; every site is different, and every customer’s needs are different to some degree. They’re pretty much becoming one-off buildings. Each building is designed specific for its needs and its site.”

The process of tilt-slab concrete construction takes place on the building site. Once the building foundations and ground floor slab is completed, Panel Contractors prepare a form – which acts as a mold – and reinforcing steel and cast-in fixing points and lifting points are then installed. High strength concrete is then poured and finished smooth to an exact shape and size, accommodating doorways, windows and decorative features. Once the panels are completed, forms are removed and a crane is used to “tilt” the newly-formed slab into a vertical position above the footings, setting it into place. Once the panel is secured to steelwork or on temporary props, the crew goes on to set the next concrete panel into place until the building walls are completed and ready for steel erection to take place. Once the panels are all erected, any imperfections can be filled, and the building can be painted, the roof installed, and crews can move on to finishing the interior of the structure.

Depending on the size of the building being erected, crews can sometimes install dozens of tilt panels into place in a single day. Some of the concrete tilt panels installed by APEX have been as large as 12 metres in height by eight metres in width, and weighed up to a staggering 45 tons apiece. “The tilt panel system has really come into its own in the last 10 years,” comments Luke. “Previously to that, the buildings were mostly Colorbond buildings, which is a steel-clad building, or they were made from precast panel, panels you’d buy from a manufacturer. Today with the high value of industrial land, tilt panel technology has taken from the older technology of Colorbond-clad buildings to a degree, and offers an economical alternative to off-site precast panels.”

In very large spaces like warehouses, factories, and storage facilities, it is crucial for employees to be able to carry out their duties safely and efficiently in areas that are not only spacious, but free from obstructions. For over 20 years, Australia’s APEX Building Systems Pty Ltd have designed and constructed numerous unique large-scale facilities through large clear span portal steelwork construction, an innovative method used to create massive floor areas and special-use rural structures unobstructed by support columns.

Highly regarded as specialists in the design, fabrication, and erection of large clear span portal framed structures, APEX Building Systems uses an extremely efficient fabricated high-tensile steel truss system to create buildings for its many clients. Unlike other conventional methods of building which require internal columns to support the roof, APEX truss systems are able to produce structures with tremendous clear spans. The result is buildings that are strong, economical to build, and allow for very large amounts of usable internal space.

“We can create wide span frames up to 55 metres, or even 60 metres,” says Luke. “We use a truss roof frame, rather than a heavy UB or RSJ rafter. We use a fabricated truss, which is designed by Structural Engineers and manufactured out of high-tensile hollow tube, saving weight and allowing large clear spans.”

“We’re progressive, we look after our customers,” says Luke Franks. “We’re a leader in our particular market, especially industrial buildings in the Western Sydney area. We look after everything in-house, and we get the job done right.”

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, 9:15 AM AEST