Bringing the “Weld” – and the Welding Industry – Together

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-By Aleisha Parr

With the rise of China and India at the moment as consumers of Australian minerals and oil and gas outputs, the nation is stepping up its output efforts to meet the ever-increasing demand. In addition to those works, the required support infrastructure has created a market rich with opportunity for Queensland welding company, Barfab. As a specialist boiler making business, Barfab has carved out a niche for itself within the mining industry and its associated infrastructure markets, receiving recognition now as a contractor of choice for discerning clients throughout a vast network of markets and industries.

“It’s funny,” notes Tim Bartrop, CEO, “we don’t tend to be working in one sector but rather in all the sectors at once. We’ll do work on a ship loader, and then we get electrical work, or suddenly we’re in Main Roads work.

“What we actually find is that if you pick a particular site – for example, the Caval Ridge mine – then that name is repeated over and over again in different projects. There is the Caval Ridge Road, the Caval Ridge Bridges, and the Caval Ridge Substation.”

In this way, the specialist company is able to offer a complete package of services not only on each individual project, but also in a larger sense across the complete range of associated projects typically linked to mining industry work. While most projects begin with mining and gas related infrastructure, the flow-on from that enables Barfab to extend its work – and subsequent profits and reputation – with the growth of the community it services.

“So, from our point of view,” explains Mr Bartrop, “not being associated with just one market segment means that we can capitalise on all of them.”

At the same time, Barfab has pushed past the conventional industry standards to become a specialist company in terms of the high level of quality and specialty it offers – in all of its market segments. To enable this, the company has an aggressive training and up-skilling system in place for its employees, who all are required to surpass industry standards.

“In the workplace you have to have a lot of elements in place,” explains Mr Bartrop. “All of our welders have to pass tests outside of their normal training. So they do sample welds that meet the standard and then those welds are actually destroyed to see how strong they were or they’re investigated by ultrasonic testing where you can see inside the weld.”

Not only must Barfab’s welders be specialist certified, but the materials used on each project must be traceable back to their source of origin to prove that the proper materials are being used on each job and that those materials are indeed to specifications. Furthermore, the company routinely hires third party welding inspectors to carry out welding test plans and inspections as well as ultrasonic testing. Barfab maintains Australian National Code of Practice (NCOP), as well as ISO 9001 quality assurance to the global standard.

While these standards certainly are important to Barfab and its clients, Mr Bartrop explains that the secret to Barfab’s success is its focus on surpassing expectations. “We still have competitors who have exactly the same qualifications as us and so the only way that we compete at that level is by having something different.

“That thing that is different about us is that we bring the weld together,” he says, referencing the company’s playful motto. “We do this by adding value. Right from the time that a client rings us, we’re looking for a full understanding of what is most important to him in this particular project and how we can actually add something more to him along the way.”

From that point, the company is able to offer a full package of services, right through to on-site delivery and erection. “We’ll take care of all of those worries along the way in terms of qualifications, testing, sampling and the certifications. Our job is to make life easy for our clients by adding anything into our part of the work that we can take away from him, so that’s what we look to do at every stage.”

Never one to back down from a challenge, Barfab has developed a number of strategic industry relationships with similar – and often competing – small to medium fabricators for joint venture projects. Mr Bartrop explains that the company is often approached to carry out projects which are outside of its specialty or capabilities scope and so it enters these partnerships in order to provide its customers a complete and coherent solution.

“There are times that we need to look bigger than we actually are,” he says, “and so to do that we joint venture with companies who normally might be our competitors – but by working together we can achieve a great result.

“It’s the same if it’s a job that is too big for us and has to be delivered within a certain time frame. Again we’ll find a partner that can share some of the load with us and together, achieve the delivery on time which Barfab as a business couldn’t have done on its own.”

Mr Bartrop says that moving forward, the company’s main interest will be in continuing to build dynamic relationships with its clients within key market segments to achieve stronger market share.

“Barfab is really the story of a family business whose good relationships work,” reports Mr Bartrop with pride. “We use the same principles of relationships to work with clients as we do our own staff, so we really consider the family business to be not only the family within the business, but also the people outside the business – our customers and clients as well.”

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’?

January 27, 2021, 1:18 AM AEDT