Top workshop turns skills to fresh fields
Stevenson Engineering has analysed how it can best use its machinery and the skills of its staff in the changed marketplace of the second decade of the 21st Century. PHIL WHYTE reports on where the company is headed.
Stevenson Engineering has undergone a partial transformation as it meets the changed environment of the post global financial crisis trading environment.
Visitors to the company’s workshop in Auckland’s East Tamaki will still see the big mobile gear that the company has a great reputation for servicing. However, Stevenson Engineering’s work is no longer confined to that facility and mobile field servicing.
Stevenson Engineering began as Stevenson Group’s workshop back in the days when the big mining gear at Kopuku (now Kopaka), Maramarua — and later Ohai and other South Island mines — needed regular attention, as did the company’s ready mixed concrete and concrete products plant and fleet. Then there was quarry and construction gear, and equipment associated the company’s farms, including the 14,000ha Lochinver station on the Napier-Taupo highway.
Parent company Stevenson Group has passed its centennial, and has built up a reputation for its expertise as one of New Zealand’s largest, most efficient and well-equipped private companies. This philosophy has always extended to the workshop. Constantly updated top of the line equipment is a feature of the multi-bay facility, and clients began to benefit from this when the workshop began to take on client projects. For instance there is the largest hydraulic cylinder hone in the country and several other articles of plant which are unique in New Zealand, including a massive twin-head computer controlled sub arc welder for roll reclamation.
Stevenson Engineering’s repositioning means its 140 highly qualified staff are often to be found outside the workshop, throughout New Zealand and at overseas locations, working on fixed plant maintenance, or doing special projects for large customers. The workshop is still fully utilised – and had a D9, a large excavator, a new mining machine and various other plant being serviced and/or rebuilt when New Zealand Engineering News visited — but is now only part of the wider operation. Its equipment comes in very handy when an item from one of its offsite jobs has to be rebuilt or worked on by special machinery.
“Staff are the core of our business, and we’re proud of our reputation among our peers for selecting and training up apprentices, in association with MITO,” says Stevenson Engineering operations manager David Young.
“Many of those apprentices go on to become long-serving employees.
“Our staff retention is something we pride ourselves on. There’s nothing better than being able to send a group of mechanics out on a job and be confident that no one else could do it better.”
Mr Young also points to Stevenson Engineering’s proud health and safety record, which recently included a 710-day lost time injury-free (LTI-Free) period.
Stevenson Engineering is qualified to work on everything from the largest fixed plant or mobile equipment down to the small roadside plant the company services for a contracting industry client.
The company has an Enviromark Diamond Award. It is also ISO 9001 audited and is an underground diesel registered service facility to meet AS/NZS 3584 – one of very few companies in Australia or New Zealand to have achieved this accreditation. The audit for this was one of the most stringent Stevenson has ever undertaken, according to Mr Young.
The company also has on-site engineering designers, and so is equipped to take any project from concept to completion.
In particular, clients take advantage of Stevenson Engineering’s top reputation for work on hydraulic systems. For instance this has led to Stevenson Engineering building up a strong client base in recycling and the scrap industry, where it specialises in rebuilding all types of balers and sheers.
“Stevenson is a one-stop shop for us,” says Nick Baker, Visy general manager – NZ recycling.
”In the past we shopped around machine shops for requirements like maintenance and supply of hydraulic rams, valves, and repairs to the main platen. Then we had to co-ordinate all the work.
“We decided that we didn’t want this, and turned the project management over to Stevenson, which is also able to fabricate any item we need.”
The company also has a strong reputation in maintenance of heavy industrial plant, heavy transport, civil construction and other heavy equipment fleet maintenance. It is prominent in the extractive industries, with the Group’s own quarrying activities and work in both opencast and underground mining as well as work for clients.
Stevenson Engineering has major contracts with New Zealand Steel at its Glenbrook plant. This involves rebuilding and refurbishing forming rolls, hydraulic cylinder and maintenance shop work with other highly competent smaller teams working to reinforce the client’s regular workforce.
As well Stevenson Engineering runs New Zealand Steel subsidiary Steltech in Takanini. Steltech’s speciality is structural anvil bridge beam construction.
“Steltech manufactures members to almost any size, shape or length. So we give engineers the freedom to design the perfectly optimised beam for any application,” the company says.
By contrast with imported hot rolled sections, Steltech’s engineers size the members to meet the critical load, often achieving weight savings of 25-30 percent over hot rolled beams, and this reflects through to substantial cost savings.
This is a specialist welding shop and Stevenson provides a group of top welders on the shop floor, as well as having staff working in other specialist areas of the company.
Stevenson Engineering business development manager Gary Richmond says the company also had top tradesmen located at Earnscleugh, McMahon, Takanini Concrete and Oceana Gold HWE in recent times. The company’s coal mining experience stands it in good stead, and it continues to supply its expertise to mines on the West Coast and elsewhere.
Stevenson Engineering is a company which has over many years built up an excellent reputation with its workshop. But now the company has re-assessed the marketplace of 2013 and beyond, and its potential to make the most of the 21st Century. It is constantly finding new clients for its skills and expertise, and the future is looking very bright indeed.
Big-time oil and grease
Ports of Auckland ship-to-shore cranes play their part in oiling the Auckland economy, by unloading goods from ships as quickly and effectively as possible.
Until recently, crane parts were greased manually. Because access to grease points was often awkward there was no guarantee that every part of the crane was receiving the required amount of oil, and this led to a greater risk of breakdown from bearing failures.
Reducing downtime for repairs of these cranes is vital. There are over 1000 grease points on the five cranes, three of which weigh 1250 tonnes while the other two weigh 1150 tonnes.
Ports of Auckland (PoA) approached Stevenson Engineering to provide a solution that would automate the oil supply. Stevenson field service mechanic Greg Donald launched into R&D more to address this particularly challenging problem.
“Greg’s knowledge and research skills have been a key factor in the success of the job,” says Stevenson field service supervisor Kevin Hickey.
“He sourced the best available system on the market, and Stevenson Engineering designed and added additional componentry to ensure that the system would effectively integrate with the cranes’ operations.”
Installation was completed last year, with four Stevenson staff working on the job at any one time. One of the project’s challenges was gaining access to the cranes between unloading schedules.
“We offered the flexibility to go on site at short notice and the capacity to work six days a week as required,” says Kevin.
“We’ve drawn on the pool of experience and expertise at Stevenson Engineering to tackle this project. We’ve been able to get the best result by making components in-house, using our machine shop for fabrication. We’ve also been able to provide staff that are certified to work at heights. This has been essential as our team members have sometimes been working at heights of up to 50 metres.”
“We chose Stevenson Engineering for this project because of their extensive background in maintaining fleet equipment,” says PoA operations engineer John Miller.
“We wanted to tap into their experience in preventative maintenance. We were confident that Stevenson had undertaken a thorough investigation into the best solution to our problem. They selected the right equipment, designed it, worked it and followed through from beginning to end, providing a very high-quality installation.
“We’ve appreciated having Stevenson’s Greg Donald as a leading hand. He took ownership of the project, from investigation and planning to overseeing the installation. It’s now faster, safer and more effective to service the cranes. Oil is added automatically when the machine is working.”
The new automated system ensures that all parts of the cranes are greased. PoA has a preventative maintenance system that minimises future crane downtime.