“We were able to provide an Australian-made solution. Our solution used all Australian steel and, on analysis, used 97% Australian content.”
Competing On Value And Innovation, Not Cost
This unique solution enabled Allthread Industries to compete with cheaper overseas imports based on the value delivered throughout the construction phase—not just on the cost of steel.
“Prior to this, we would supply the anchor cages as flat packs on the back of a truck—in exactly the same way as an overseas supplier. Because of this, we were always compared as a like for like option with international imports. The market perception was that we had an identical offering, with little differentiation. We were essentially competing based on the price of steel, and were often missing out on local contracts,” said Preston.
“Instead of that, the cost comparison had to encompass not only the cost of the steel, but the cost of getting it to site, of destuffing the container, of assembling the parts, of having workers on-site for longer in hot weather or rain or wind. With the installation of 176 bolts required, all on uneven ground, the risk to worker safety was quite high. Manual handling is always the biggest cause of injury onsite.”
“Allthread Industries was able to provide a quote that encompassed the cost of the steel plate and bolts finished and in the ground. When this was compared to the costs sighted by international suppliers, we were cost effective,” said Preston.
The total cost to buy and install anchor cage using Allthread Industries Australian-made anchors plus site labour costs was cheaper than using imported anchor cages plus site labour costs.
All this was completed within a compressed timeframe, with just seven weeks between the signing of the contract and delivery of the first anchor to the site.
In fact, between September 2020 and March 2021, BlueScope supplied 380 tonne of XLERPLATE® steel in AS/NZS 3678 Structural steel – Hot-rolled plates, Grade 350, 80mm thickness to Precision Oxycut. This plate was cut, milled, drilled, and tapped, to fabricate the top and bottom steel plate rings that were used to build the Anchor Cages that were housed in reinforced concrete foundation.
In addition, InfraBuild supplied 334 tonnes of 4140 grade steel that was heat treated and peeled back to rolling size by Milltech Martin Bright so that Allthread Industries could create a 10.9 grade bolt. The result: anchor cages that featured all-Australian steel.
The construction process was rapid. The average time to build each anchor cage and check positional accuracy was just 90 minutes (once the cage had been unloaded from the truck). As a result, even though the project commenced two weeks late (due to unrelated issues), the anchor cage installation was still completed three weeks ahead of the original scheduled date.
Accuracy was not sacrificed for speed though. As Preston describes it, “We also achieved far greater accuracy. We designed the top plate so that it acted as a positioning device for the bolts. We machined nuts that had a taper on them, which made it easy to get them in and out. The positioning was perfect every single time.”
“We clawed back such an enormous amount of time in the construction scheduled because our process was so much faster than anything that had been done in the past,” said Preston.
“Plus, during the construction of the anchor cages, there was not a single recorded safety incident. We solved a lot of problems regarding safety on site by using pre-slung loads. When our truck arrived on-site, it drove right up to the location of each tower. We designed a method to remove all the components off the truck without anyone having to get on the truck. This removed the risk of falling from heights,” said Preston.
An Australian-Made Solution
“We were able to provide an Australian-made solution. Our solution used all Australian steel, and on analysis used 97% Australian content. Even the plastic components were sourced from a supplier based in Orange. The only components that weren’t locally sourced were nuts and washers because there is no Australian manufacturer of those components. On our current project, the plastic components being manufactured by our supplier in Orange are now being made from plastic waste collected from the COVID-19 vaccination syringes.”
“On further analysis, we also found that our anchor cage was made up of 50% recycled material by mass. This meant that we not only had an Australian manufactured solution that was cheaper than the overseas equivalent, but also had a far higher recycled component of raw materials and therefore a lower carbon footprint.”
“In the end, the steel grout pocket forming rings that we designed to replace the non-biodegradable foam ingots from overseas were recycled back to BlueScope, and have since found their way back into full plates distributed across Australia,” said Preston.