Komatsu is assisting an NSW Central Coast civil construction company to optimize its productivity in a housing and infrastructure growth market.
Bolte Civil Pty Ltd has experienced a business expansion of better than 60 per cent as demand for new homes in the coastal region just north of Sydney has surged in the last decade.
But rather than run with the near-boom conditions, Bolte Civil Managing Director Gavin Kimpton has moved to rein in costs to build a solid base, founded on maximizing the use of the company’s existing 40 -strong machinery inventory.
His measures include operating his plant for 9-10 hours a day five to six days a week, depending on demand, and holding fortnightly forward planning sessions which reduce the possibility of any machine suffering downtime.
A fleet of Komatsu excavators, backhoe, and grader fitted with KOMTRAX, electronic on-board performance monitoring and ICT guidance systems are at the heart of Bolte’s goal to achieve cost efficiency and deliver a quality result to local developers and infrastructure clients.
The company’s reliance on onboard technology and monitoring is now so great that it also dictates which external operators it will allow on-site in times of overload.
Bolte’s preference is to use only those machines which can match its own in-house capability.
The NSW State Government regional development plan forecasts 41,500 new homes will be built in the Central Coast catchment alone in the next 20 years, attracting 75,000 additional residents and creating more than 24,000 jobs.
However, Bolte is currently working on one site alone, just south of Raymond Terrace, which is slated to provide more than 800 new homes in the next three years.
“When our founder Neil Bolte started the business 25 years ago, he foresaw us undertaking development support in regions across the state”
said Mr Kimpton, a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) and now an equal shareholder in the business said.
“But it has become increasingly obvious in the current climate that we should continue to focus the majority of our attention on our regional area where we can capitalise on our local knowledge including that of the requirements of councils and developer client needs.”
Concentrating its efforts on a region regarded as one of Australia’s five largest building hot-spots has paid dividends.
Bolte has given specific attention to the statutory requirements of the construction industry and is able to assist its clients – 80 per cent private and 20 per cent government – to achieve cost-efficient project solutions. Mr Kimpton said
“We’ve created a reputation for ourselves as problem solvers”
The company has turned to its principal supplier, Komatsu, to provide solutions in critical areas like machinery productivity and operator training.
“We’re increasingly looking to technology to improve operational efficiency”
ICT guidance of its graders and KOMTRAX monitoring have become an integral part of the company’s management and its forward planning.
“Every two weeks we have a meeting to determine the best use of our equipment, including scheduled maintenance, where-ever it is positioned in the area in which we are operating”.
The advantages of close monitoring and of restricting operations to a geographically containable area are immense.
“Sometimes there is more sense to move plant, a small distance from one site to another for a short-term job rather than have it suffer downtime for two or three days.”
“Planning on-site service is a big part of improving productivity.” Operator training is another.
Bolte has a policy of long-term employment and in 25 years it has even taken some of its loyal employees through to retirement. Mr Kimpton said.
“As younger operators come on board, we need to provide the opportunity for them to make the best use of on-board equipment, and to ensure they are comfortable in the cabin”
The company’s recent purchase of a Komatsu GD655-5 grader was based, at least in part, on the preference of one of Bolte’s senior operators for the machine’s driver ergonomics.
Bolte is working with Komatsu to determine a future path for plant turnover taking into account the relatively high hours its machines are accumulating.
Ninety-five per cent of its business is now in an area bounded by Gosford and the Hunter Valley.
“Whilst there have been opportunities to review moving into the Sydney market, there is often a danger in diversifying and growing too big too quick at the risk of quality over quantity to satisfy client and stakeholder needs.” Mr Kimpton said.
“Up here, we have a solid reputation and are able to control the quality of our work and maintain consistency across all our projects.”