When Faber Glasshouses Australia recently contacted Coates Hire to discuss the supply of welding equipment the company required to build a hot water storage tank to service one of its large commercial greenhouses, it quickly became apparent this was no ordinary hire request.
Faber is the largest manufacturer of greenhouses in Australia, and the 1.6 hectare greenhouse in Carisbrook, Victoria required a 600m3 hot water storage tank to provide hot water to heat the crop at night.
For such a unique job the company was flying out a team of four welders from Holland, who Faber Glasshouses Director Folco Faber explained are experts in this type of construction.
“There is no one specialised in building these hot water storage tanks for greenhouses in Australia. It’s a specialist job and these guys just fly all around the world, and it’s all they do,” Folco said.
However before the welding crew arrived in Australia, there was the matter of ensuring they would have all the equipment they required to perform the job, and for this Folco contacted Alan Kelly, National Product Manager – Welding for Coates Hire.
“These guys had very specific requirements for what tools they needed. We sent an email to Alan with photos and details of all the tools and he sorted it out,” Folco said.
According to Alan, it wasn’t just the language barrier that needed to be overcome, but also the differences in welding techniques and equipment used between Europe and Australia.
“It was a two week job to fly them out, get the job done, and get them out, and we had to get the welding equipment together for them,” Alan explained.
“Their time constraints were very tight. They were going to land, walk on site, and in an ideal world pick up a welding torch and start welding.
“So they would email us an image of a welding machine they normally used, and what we had to do was assimilate that machine with the type of machines we have available in Australia.
“When I saw the machine there were a few functions on it that I had to understand whether our machines could do it – and also did they actually need that function.
“Do you need to do pulse welding? What position are you going to weld it in? What’s the material? There was a lot of technical information we had to get out of them to make sure we got it right.”
For example the welders wanted to use 5mm electrodes, and they wanted a maximum 400 amperes of electrical power. They also wanted to use a water-cooled MIG torch which is common in Europe, but rare in Australia.
Fortunately Coates Hire not only has some $35 million worth of welding equipment in its fleet, it also has Alan’s expertise, and eventually he was able to ensure the welders had appropriate equipment for the job.
In a week from initial contact, Coates had supplied everything to site including four Lincoln Invertec V350 Pro units, LN25 Pro wirefeeders, generators, interconnecting welding cables, and even scaffolding for the job.
Once the welders arrived on site Alan had Coates staff on site to help them set up and get the welding machines operational. While the language barrier was an obstacle, the end result was that the job was done in 7 days, ahead of budget.
According to Alan it’s this technical expertise, combined with the size of Coates Hire’s fleet, that allows the company to provide clients with an end-to-end solution.
“Coates has a large amount of welding equipment in its fleet, and it’s one of the more technically complex piece of equipment we have, but we have solid expertise in this area.” Alan explained.
“Rather than saying to a customer ‘this is a good machine to use and these are the cables you need and this is the price’, we can add value in the decision-making process. I can go to a customer and help him improve his productivity.”
While this was the first time Folco had flown out the specialist team to Australia, it won’t be the last, with Faber Glasshouses building up to five of these hot water tanks every year.
“It will be the same crew, the same four guys, this was the first time – next time it should be a lot easier for everyone,” Folco said.