Over the past 18 months the drivers in our industry have changed, some would argue for the worse but I would argue for the better. The way we think as engineers and constructors has had to evolve significantly to enable us to be ahead of the curve and challenge the way we design and deliver.
Over the past 18 months the drivers in our industry have changed, some would argue for the worse but I would argue for the better. The way we think as engineers and constructors has had to evolve significantly to enable us to be ahead of the curve and challenge the way we design and deliver. It's a change that was well overdue in an overpriced, 'under-thought' market and now that the new benchmarks are being set for wages, costs and margins it's time to work the other variables being design, materials and construction methodologies - what all engineers are trained to do!
Innovation, efficiency, alternative are all the buzz words that we are living with at the moment within the industry and with these come the 'nay sayers' and the skeptics that have had it too good for too long. The mere fact that these terms are all associated with risk, it's sometimes hard to convince the old school principals that the way they have been doing things for the past 15 years even resembles something of the dark ages. I attended a breakfast speech a few months back by Peter Coleman, CEO of WOODSIDE, and they have studied this topic, with their enviable resources, and have determined that on average within the oil & gas business it takes eight years to implement change, or new technology, which is why our industry is currently still suffering a major hangover of cost blow-outs, inefficiency and over engineered solutions.
Thought processes have been taken away from designers to the point where standard designs are utilized to reduce engineering and management costs, but the truth is in many cases that the few extra dollars spent with decent innovative design engineers can save significant capex and opex figures down the track. Now that we are back in the right part of the cost curve in relation to design costs, the focus needs to be on reducing material costs, and efficient design to allow for efficient construction methods.
We all need to challenge engineering standards in a co-operative nature with our clients to assist them with the changes required to ensure they are maintaining margins and continuing to develop projects within our state, and country as a whole to ensure that Australia can remain competitive with our higher labour costs and standards of living. WA companies were once renowned as some of the world’s best in mining and oil & gas arenas due to the engineering nous, forward thinking and innovation which unfortunately has detracted over the boom times, and it's now time to regain that title and status across the industry.
In summary, push new ideas, challenge the cost drivers in raw construction materials, encourage research and investigate new options and alternatives, support the youth coming through and embrace their creative nature, nurture new technology and innovation to ensure that in the next decade our engineers and companies are once again leading resource development within our region.
Cameron is the Managing Director of Primero Group. Primero delivers multi-discipline 'turnkey' design and construct projects in the areas of minerals, energy & non-process infrastructure.