A large rail project in Melbourne needed safety and services along with premium equipment.

As the Victorian government rebuilds its Melbourne railway system, it is removing 75 level crossings to decrease travel times, increase efficiency and improve rail and road safety. And it is building a new Metro line under the city.

The huge projects entail many associated projects, including the construction of new stations and a new stabling yard at Wyndham Vale.

Wyndham Vale is west of the Melbourne CBD and north of Werribee, close to the Melbourne-Geelong line. The new stabling yard will house six V/Line trains on the regional network, while also having enough room to expand in the future. It will include drivers’ facilities and a bypass track connected to the Geelong line and having started in 2018, it should finish in early 2020.

The main contractor to the project, McConnell Dowell, is an engineering and construction company with an expertise in rail and civil projects. The company was working to tight time and quality benchmarks and they needed a hire company with a full suite of premium equipment, a service proposition and management support to back it up.

Coates Hire Major Projects Manager, George Nastopoulos said, “It’s a big project, with two sites, many occupations and requiring a range of plant and equipment.”

That included up to 75 lighting towers, site accommodations, generators from 11kva to 30 kva, a fleet of access equipment – such as boom lifts and scissor lifts – and a fleet of rollers.

Nastopoulos says the large civil projects demand the latest equipment, often because certain specifications are required but also because the newest machinery uses less power or diesel, and is more reliable.

“We have a big fleet, so when a customer wants 44 LED light towers, we can provide them,” says Nastopoulos. “And when that extends to 75 lights for a period of time, we can cover that too.”

However, the extra benefit they really want from Coates Hire is the on-call service.

“We assign a project manager, mobile service crews and mechanics to our big customers, and that’s what they really need,” says Nastopoulos. “They want the equipment delivered on time, and they want the best equipment they can hire. But knowing that any breakdowns or problems will be dealt with immediately is part of a trust relationship.”

Nastopoulos says that service includes the Coates Hire transport offering. “The first priority is to have the equipment where it has to be, when it has to be there. That’s crucial. Then we have to shift the equipment around, from site to site, to where it’s needed.”

Coates Hire’s transport operation conducts around one million moves each year and Nastopoulos says that taking the headaches out of shifting equipment is a big bonus for civil contractors.

“A lot of the managers on big projects are under heavy pressure to perform and any efficiency they can gain through integrated transport or quick repairs, is welcomed.”

He says for the same reasons, the Coates Hire compliance systems are also sought-after by contractors.

Coates Hire has a digital platform that brings all of the safety and service paperwork into one place. “We can take the compliance headaches away for inducting the equipment, for the service history and the hazard-risk assessments,” says Nastopoulos.

"These ‘Plant Packs’ are emailed to the client and the project manager, demonstrating that all the equipment complies. It beats the customer having to go through all the paperwork, for every piece of equipment.”

He says in the Coates Hire teams there is always someone who is qualified to go onto restricted areas, which includes ‘live’ rail sites.

“I have my Rail Access Training ticket, so I can go onto a live rail site and behave safely. It means the customer can relax and just focus on their job.”

He says Coates Hire has industrial specialities because equipment hire is a service industry and the hirer must meet the customer’s needs.

“A civil project like Wyndham Vale Stabling Yard has to be done quickly, safely and with a high degree of expertise. You have to partner with the customer in these projects, so when we drop off the equipment, the job is just starting.”
 

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