Antipodean effect

8 September 2021


Axel Johnson International’s Lifting Solutions business has ventured out of Europe for the first time acquiring five lifting companies in Australia. Jenny Eagle speaks to LEEA about the news as well as its announcement to set up a Regional Council for Australia & New Zealand.

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) has created a Regional Council for Australia and New Zealand to take greater local control and ownership over local decisions with its own people, budget and work plan.

It has selected 10 industry leaders to form the Council who are committed to increasing the awareness of LEEA in the region, showcasing its benefits, growing its demand and profile across major industries and focusing on local initiatives that support the area’s specific needs. They will work together collectively for the greater good of the lifting industry in Australia and New Zealand, as well as to support LEEA’s goals in the region.

The team includes Steve Flint founder and CEO, of The Rigging Shed, Western Australia and regional director for Australia on the LEEA Board; Adam Thompson, MD, Stenhouse Lifting; Guy Roberts, managing director, Noble & Son, Adelaide; Ashley Thacker, GM, Ranger Lifting Rigging Safety (NSW & VIC); Andy Campbell, national technical and services manager, Bunzl, Queensland; Mark Eberhard, GM, RMB Lifting, Adelaide; Navin Kumar, branch manager, Lifting Victoria; David Wilson, owner, Active Lifting Equipment; Rob Smit, business manager, services, Cookes New Zealand and Justin Boehm, regional GM Australia, LEEA.

The Regional Council for Australia and New Zealand is the first step towards a ‘hub and bespoke’ model for LEEA, which is designed to maximise the Association’s global footprint through regional delivery. Australia and New Zealand provides the template to move forward with similar Regional Councils for the Middle East and South East Asia later in the year.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the region and a significant benefit to the Lifting Equipment industry in Australian and New Zealand,” said Boehm. “The Regional Council will be led by local industry leaders, to push forward the benefits of LEEA membership and looking forward to the future of an incredibly important industry. With their support and guidance, we will achieve the recognition our members deserve.

“We wanted to set up a Regional Council to become more regionalised because the members are somewhat different to the UK. It’s a great opportunity for us to shape the model of service delivery to our members here.

“There are some fantastic events and training development plans in the pipeline. The best part is that as a lifting community the region is coming together, putting individual business and commercial priorities aside, to collectively improve lifting standards and work with government, local industry and safety regulators to ensure that.”

A specific work plan has been created that directly aligns to LEEA’s Global Strategic Objectives which include; upholding the Gold Standard; raising awareness of members’ excellence; professional development of people across the industry; sustainable development and supporting the global industry.

Boehm said the biggest news in the region recently was the announcement that Axel Johnson International has expanded globally within the lifting segment through the acquisition of five Australian companies; The Rigging Shed, Lifting Victoria, Elevate Lifting & Rigging, Schillings Hoisting Equipment and On Call Lifting, effective last month (August 31).

The companies have 10 sites strategically distributed across the west, south and east part of Australia and will form a group under the leadership of Flint, who owns the largest company in the group, The Rigging Shed.

With approximately AUD 40 million in sales and 125 employees, the companies provide lifting and rigging equipment and related services. Their success is built on strong product knowledge, solid local relationships and a diversified customer base.

Today, the companies are affiliated through an organisation called the Global Lifting group where the companies collaborate within purchasing.

“We are very excited about this opportunity which is a milestone in our ambition to support our customers globally. All companies have a well-established market position, competent and dedicated co-workers, and we are confident that they will fit very well into our group,” said Ralf Wiberg, MD, Lifting Solutions.

Flint added, becoming a part of Axel Johnson International allows the companies to widen their product range, strengthen their supplier relationships and their market concept and was looking forward to working with the Lifting Solutions group and its current customer base as they grow together.

“Acquisitions are central to Axel Johnson International’s business model. Our focus is on building, owning and developing business groups within defined industrial niche areas. As a result, we actively work on defining and developing strategies for industrial platforms in attractive industrial niches where we see long-term growth potential,” the company said in a statement.

“Our operations are organised in six business groups: Driveline Solutions, Fluid Handling Solutions, Lifting Solutions, Industrial Solutions, Power Transmission Solutions and Transport Solutions. We have a history of developing business groups over time, starting with a base – a platform – and thereafter growing the business by geographic or product/service expansion.

”For example, we have built up AxFlow – in our Fluid Handling Solutions business group – over a period of more than three decades via a mix of organic growth and acquisitions. Lately, we have complemented AxFlow with several acquisitions in the service and aftermarket support area. Similarly, our Lifting and Cargo Securing businesses stem from a platform acquisition in the early 2000s, when we acquired the Forankra Group. Today these are part of the Transport Solutions and Lifting Solutions business groups.

“In our business group Industrial Solutions, we have identified three industrial niche segments (industrial automation, mobile drivelines and industrial services) that we are seeking to expand into larger, self-sustaining business groups. Here, our primary focus is geographic expansion through M&A.

“Our ambition is to identify new opportunities outside our current platforms. This can happen either via smaller bridgehead additions or slightly larger platform acquisitions. The ambition in every case is to establish over time a new business group with annual revenue potential of at least €100m. We look for industrial niches where a distributor can play a strong, value-adding role between manufacturer and end-customer or where a strong product or systems solution can be internationalised by building a strong distribution network in new geographies.”

The five companies all released a statement to their customers to say the way they interact is not changing; ‘We will continue to operate under the same trading name as we do today. However, there will be a change of entity, ABN and bank details effective from September 1, 2021. We will advise our customers, suppliers and stakeholders of these changes in due course.’

Lifting Victoria recently announced it has been appointed as an authorised distributor for Enerpac, offering hydraulic equipment and services in Victoria and in the western districts of the state. It has also joined the Civil Contractors Federation Victoria as an associate member, which is a 75-year old industry body representing and servicing the civil construction industry.

Enerpac recently partnered with PYBAR Mining Services to set a new industry best-practice benchmark for removing large diameter reamers safely in an underground environment.

PYBAR Mining Services utilized an Enerpac SL100 Hydraulic Gantry to provide a safe and efficient way to lift and position the heavy load, where traditional cranes will not fit, and permanent overhead structures are not an option.

Raise bore reamers are used in underground mining worldwide to excavate a circular hole between two levels of a mine, without using explosives. The removal of raise bore reamers has traditionally been a hazardous, complex, costly and time-consuming process.

PYBAR Mining Services Raise Bore and Shaft Lining Manager, Phillip Viljoen, said in the raise bore industry, there are two known methods of removing large diameter reamer heads, once the reaming of an underground shaft is complete.

“The first method is to lower the reamer head to the base of the shaft and use a thermal lance to cut the drill string and drag the reamer away from the hole, but this method exposes the worker doing the job to the possibility of falling rocks – a hazard that’s difficult to control,” says Viljoen.

“The second method is to install breast plates in the backs above the reamer head, at the top of the hole, and use air hoists to lift the reamer out of the hole. Steel beams are then placed across the hole, which the reamer is lowered down onto, dragged forward away from the hole, disassembled, and removed. This method is time-consuming, expensive, and complex in the controls required to ensure safe completion of the job.

“We’ve used the air hoist method before, but due to the costs and complexity of the job we were undertaking, we sought an improved and fit-for-purpose solution, so we worked with Enerpac to develop and safely test the SL100 Reamer Lifting Gantry system, which has become a safety win for the whole raise bore industry.”

Antony Cooper, marketing manager Asia-Pacific, Enerpac added; “The SL100 Hydraulic Gantry System was key in the success of removing the raise bore reamers in an underground environment. It provided a more efficient way of removing large diameter reamers in an underground environment, and enhanced safety at the same time.

“The SL100 Hydraulic Gantry is operated remotely, with the Intelli-Lift wireless control system, which is included with all Enerpac hydraulic gantries. The Intelli-Lift controller offers superior safety and control by removing employees from the shaft area during reamer lifts. When the reamer is lifted out of the shaft, the reamer is trammed away from the open shaft, which is then covered with a hole cover to create a safe working area.

“Essential to the safety and performance of the Enerpac Super Lift gantry range are the skid-tracks it sits on. Skid tracks, available in 3m and 6m sections, are critical to setting up a gantry safely. Skid tracks reduce ground-bearing pressure and ensure the gantries are aligned during travelling.”

Enerpac SL-Series Super Lift Gantries provide best-in-class control and high capacity utilising telescopic cylinders offered in 2 or 3 stages. The SL100 Hydraulic Gantry offers higher lifting capacities (up to 110 tonnes) than previously in gantries of this type, while providing accurate load positioning on a compact 610 mm (2 ft) track gauge.

The lift is controlled by the Enerpac Intelli-Lift wireless control system, which removes the need for workers to be near the shaft area, and instead allows them to be in a safer location during the lift.

Elevate Lifting and Rigging was recently awarded a Global Top Distributor achievement award from Straightpoint. The addition of calibration services of the Straightpoint range of load cells has been a great development for the company.

Straightpoint (SP), acquired by US lifting specialist The Crosby Group last year, is a UK-based loadcell manufacturing company specialising in the production and calibration of load monitoring equipment for force measurement, load monitoring, suspended load weighing, compression, force sensing and wire rope tension metering.

Dean Nelson, founder, Elevate and CEO of the NELCO group of companies (Elevate Lifting and Rigging, Schillings Hoisting Equipment and Load Restraint Systems), approached Straightpoint to become a distributor in 2016 after seeing a niche for load measuring products in Australia.

“Australia’s Dynamic Rigging Hire used a 100t capacity Crosby Straightpoint (SP) Radiolink plus load cell to complete tests on two 90.7t capacity Shuttlelift mobile gantry cranes in Melbourne recently. Dynamic, a lifting and rigging equipment rental company, sourced the load cell from Elevate Lifting and Rigging, which is its go-to partner for force measurement solutions. Elevate, formerly Hoisting Equipment Specialists (HES), also provides specialist lifting equipment to the Australian market,” said Nelson.

“The Shuttlelift cranes, tested to 91.5t, will be utilised by the end user to lift pre-cast super T-beams at a manufacturing facility in the city’s western suburbs. They had to be load tested prior to being put into service to comply with Australian Standards; they will also be subjected to periodic testing to maintain that compliance.

The Radiolink plus combined with a pair of 120t capacity lifting shackles, 100t capacity roundslings and a 145t capacity Maxirig spreader beam. The owner of the cranes engaged the services of its mobile crane provider to assist with the counterweights, which in turn requested Dynamic to provide the rigging gear to lift the counterweight tray and the calibrated load cell to record the tests.

“It’s a valued partnership we have with Ross Johnson, GM, and his team at Dynamic. The mobile crane provider used one of its Franna pick and carry cranes to place the counterweights in the superlift tray and the set up of the load cell and rigging gear was also uncomplicated,” added Nelson. “The readings were monitored by the crane technicians who used the load cell to make adjustments to the scale system on the cranes.

“Both cranes were load tested and had their operating systems set within an afternoon. The following day saw operator training and the cranes finally placed into service in a very busy pre-cast yard.” The Radiolink plus, SP’s best-selling product, was used with the Handheld plus reading device, which enabled the rigging team to monitor the cranes at a safe distance. They utilised the long range 2.4GHz version providing a wireless range of 1,000m (3,280 ft.). However, Bluetooth output can also be utilised, connected to any smart phone running the manufacturer’s free HHP app (named after the Handheld plus) on iOS or Android at ranges up to 100m (328 ft.).

“The Radiolink plus has been widely covered in earlier case studies, but in every application its various features are showcased at the coalface of our industry. We strive to provide more for our customers and have made a name for ourselves and built a reputation in the lifting and rigging industry by providing a standard of quality in our products unlike any other. SP’s technology aligns with that ongoing strategy,” said Nelson.

According to the UK Guardian newspaper, Australia has the potential to develop a substantial offshore wind energy industry from scratch, with abundant resources available near existing electricity substations across the continent, according to a report by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre.

It claims Australia was yet to capitalise on significant offshore wind capacity despite the International Energy Agency nominating it as one of the “big three” likely sources of renewable energy globally alongside solar and onshore wind, writes Adam Morton, climate/environmental editor.

It found more than 2,000GW of offshore wind turbines could be installed in areas within 100km of substations and sites such as the Hunter and Latrobe valleys and Gladstone, were particularly suitable as they were close to transmission grids and had strong offshore winds at times when solar and onshore wind output was limited.

Dr Chris Briggs, research director at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures and a contributor to the report said offshore wind could be built on a much larger scale than solar or onshore wind – up to 2GW for a project – and could generate more electricity per megawatt of capacity.

The report said there were 10 offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 25GW in development in Australia, all at an early stage. The most advanced is the $10bn Star of the South – a 2.2GW windfarm planned for between 7km and 25km offshore in South Gippsland.

The report said 2030 targets for offshore wind energy totalled about 200GW, including 60GW in the European Union, 40GW in Britain and 12 GW in South Korea. Japan plans to reach 45GW by 2040.

LEEA’S Boehm agrees and said the potential for Australia to source more renewable energy is huge and is only highlighted by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), which details how anthropogenic greenhouse gases are causing unprecedented damage.

According to the World Economic Forum, the IPCC, which consists of 195 Governments, is one of the most credible sources of climate science. Its IPCC climate change report contains several key findings which are; temperatures are rising more quickly than we thought; projected increases in future global mean temperature, rising sea levels, and increased frequency of heat waves. The report “is a code red for humanity”, but scientists say a catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast.

Justin Boehm, regional GM Australia, LEEA.
Members of the Regional Council LEEA.
The Rigging Shed team.
Enerpac SL series gantry. Enerpac PYBAR.
Enerpac SL series gantry. Enerpac PYBAR.
SP load cell supplied by Elevate Lifting.
A Crosby SP Radiolink load cell tests a 90.7t Shuttlelift mobile gantry crane in Melbourne.
A Crosby SP Radiolink load cell tests a 90.7t Shuttlelift mobile gantry crane in Melbourne.