How Perfect Hire Helped the People of Ingleburn
By Daniel Green
Like the Cataract and Cordeaux Rivers that feed it, Ingleburn Reservoir faithfully brings clean, clear drinking water to the good people of the Campbelltown LGA and has done since 1974. The 45 megalitre [that’s 45 million litres!] Sydney Water asset – like any asset – had been on a steady decline and was scheduled for major remedial works for the 2019/20 financial year. So when remediation contractors Freyssinet Australia won the package, Perfect Hire was excited about the prospect of supplying the tier one subcontractor.
The French Connection
Headed up by Freyssinet Project Engineers Yann Brochet and Christian El-Zoghbi and in turn overseen by NSW Remedial Ops Manager Craig Yelavich, the project began on June 1st 2019. Onboarding by labour hire providers started soon after. The scope of works included:
- Removal of the entire roof structure
- Blast and recoat the entire interior
- Blast and recoat the entire exterior
- Remove/replace all non-functioning plumbing – valves, piping, fixtures
- Replace any required electrical controls
- Fabricate new roof structure and re-sheet
Le Ordre The Order
No doubt about it, this thing was to be stripped down to its skeleton and rebuilt in every conceivable way. When you work in labour hire a year-long gig is a beautiful thing, so with echoes of Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger echoing through the head of Perfect Hire’s GM Tim Fitzgibbon – he began strategising about the workforce he could begin to assemble. Freyssinet needed:
- Intermediate or Advanced Riggers w/steel erection
- Metal Fabricators w/EWP<11m
- Metal Fabricators
- C2/C6 Crane Operators
- Blaster Painters
- Skilled Labourers
- Tele-handler Operators
The Three Musketeers
PH had just completely revamped its recruitment and placement process, a task that took some months and many trials and tribulations. Knowing that they were building a brand and with quality in mind, the new strict and streamlined procedures were quickly employed. With more than ten labour hire workers needed there was much work to do. At the time the PH team consisted of;
- Tim Fitzgibbon – Perfect Hire GM
- Daniel Green – Perfect Group HR Manager
- Andrew Cussen – Perfect Group HR Dept, Perfect Hire Compliance and Data Manager
A Testing Procedure
Andrew began to scour our existing database for likely candidates and failing that he would advertise for new ones. He’d then compile resumes into a shortlist which I would then make into an even shorter list and conduct pre-qual phone calls followed by one-on-one interviews. This was an exceptionally more effort, but we felt group interviews allowed some workers to hide. One-on-one’s would force candidates to bear their souls a bit more. Tim would oversee, would provide vital feedback and as a site guy – be a great sounding board in a way that an office-based GM can’t. Candidates who passed those two stages would then have their skills verified: I would weld-test the boilies, rig test the riggers and put the Tele-handler Operators on our forklift [if they were ticketed]. In the absence of a Manitou this was the best we could achieve. Additionally, at the time we didn’t have a 20t crane, so these skills would be verified by more comprehensive background checks [the C6 guys were career operators, including one ex-Navy sailor who used to load and unload 5 inch HEI rounds via the ship’s crane]. This recruitment process is ridiculously labour intensive. In truth, we didn’t know it would require as much effort as it did. But the seeds we sewed in those early days laid the foundation for the industry leading standard Perfect Hire enjoys today. Slowly slowly we placed top quality workers on site.
A Site to See
As the project pushed forward and the Perfect workers outnumbering our competition 2:1, the site was a sea of hi-vis orange rail shirts, reflective crosses and black PERFECT letters in all caps. That many friendly faces on site sure makes site visits easy.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
The top of the reservoir was 12m off the ground, meaning that first up was edge protection. The entire cap was encircled in temporary barriers that Freyssinet ensured didn’t impede works. That out of the way, the Perfect lads and ladettes got down to business: dismantling the metal roof. The ageing iron sheets were defastened by whatever means necessary: 5” and cutoff wheel, hammer and cold chisel and failing that they were torched off. With over 3700 square metres of roofing to be disposed of, the material was dropped down to ground level with the Tele-handler and stacked into skips for recycling.
Break It Down
With this mammoth task completed, the structure that supported the roof was broken down. Consisting of a web of I-Beams, purlins and posts, these sometimes 13m lengths required our adept riggers, crane operators, boilies and skilled labourers to make sure things went according to plan. Except mother nature had other ideas. In the latter half of winter and early spring, Ingleburn is one windy suburb. Despite being partially sheltered by the reservoir itself, the crane and EWP had to be shut down several times a day due to excessive wind load, which played havoc with the timeline. Unfortunately, sometimes workers were even sent home. But everyone remained patient and upbeat, and as soon as the Beaufort scale allowed, the crane and scissor were redeployed skyward to continue dismantling the roof structure.
With this done and all scrap steel carted away, the program shifted to remedial works in the form of blast and paint. This was right before Perfect Hire began the supply of B&P guys [which we believe was an industry first], so a handful of Freyssinet direct employees were sent to Ingleburn and strapped on their blast helmets. Inch by inch their media took the thing down to its skeleton. Several tests confirmed that even after 45 years the reservoir was still structurally sound – a testament to Sydney Water, the original construction and any upgrades/refurb since. All piping was integrity tested with necessary valves, junctions and pipes replaced. Where necessary – relays, switchboards and controls were junked in favour of more modern units.
With the interior of the tank down to the raw substrate, the B&P team moved to the outside where a fully encapsulated temporary blast zone had been erected. While they pumped blast media at the exterior, the waterproofing and coatings team began relining the interior with a specialised epoxy that met Sydney Water specs. Perfect skilled labourers remained on hand throughout this phase, with only the crane ops and riggers sent afield to other jobs until the reservoir was ready for them again.
Raise the Roof
When the time came to rebuild the roofing structure our operators were requested back. We honestly weren’t surprised – we’d spent so much effort screening our workforce that they were undeniable. The workers were contacted and anyone free was sent back to site. With mother nature’s delays there wasn’t a moment to lose, so the steel erection machine was brought back up to speed in record time. The works were: lifting and installing I-Beams atop the existing posts, bolting them in place with galvanised 10.9 hardware, butt welding them end-to-end and installing purlins across them. It sounds straightforward and to an experienced crew it is – but as before those dang Ingleburnian winds picked up and some of those days were extremely challenging. In fact, it’s fair to say that those breezes plagued almost the entire year-long job. But as before, everyone stayed positive and upbeat and kept marching forward.
Before long the roof structure was on and trucks began arriving with an almost endless supply of sheeting. The crane hoisted the stacks up and over the reservoir wall and then into place. Perfect skilled labourers, boilies and riggers began the precise task of installation. The roof would ensure the reservoir remained free of organic debris that could contaminate the precious water supply inside, so it had to be pretty darn precise.
3700m2 of roofing installation later and the tank remediation was almost complete. From a Perfect Labour Hire perspective it was. Naturally, Freyssinet continued with the remaining works until handover some months later.
That’s a Wrap!
Perfect Labour Hire continually strives to reset the bar in terms of quality labour hire in Sydney and beyond. Ingleburn Reservoir represented the first big job of a newly formed division and mission. It tested us both mentally and physically, but it proved to us and to the Perfect Group that the supply of only skilled and niche site workers was worth it. We are proud to achieved what we have and to have been a part of continuing clean drinking water to the next generation of Campbelltownians.
Perfect Hire. We Certainly Got It Done!