Building The SAFElink Project In Australia Print E-mail

Boral Asphalt Queensland working on the SAFElink project

Helping to build a SAFElink for the future

Boral Asphalt Queensland asphalt silos
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his project was unique— even to a company that has tackled a number of large projects over the years. Boral Asphalt Queensland (BAQ) is a part of Boral Limited, Australia's largest building and constructionmaterials supplier. According to Rob McGuire, Boral's southeast regional manager, the recently completed SAFElink Project offered its own special set of challenges and specifications.

In 2006, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads called for expressions of interest for an alliance that would design, construct, and maintain a 3.1-mile (5-km), six-lane carriageway section of the Ipswich Motorway (from Wacol to Darra), as well as an upgrade of the Centenary Highway interchange.

After a detailed selection process, the members of the alliance team were appointed. The team consisted of: Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads; Leighton Contractors; BMD Constructions; Maunsell Australia; and Arup. The winning team named themselves the SAFElink Alliance.

Due to the complexity of this major capital-works project and the substantial volume of asphalt required, the alliance chose Boral Asphalt as their preferred supplier and co-joined them as a suballiance partner. This is the first time this sub-alliance delivery method had been used in Australia's asphalt industry.

BAQ's early involvement in the SAFElink sub-alliance allowed for a greater understanding of the complexities, challenges, and recourse demands. BAQ also fully understood how the scope of the project would affect associated contractors' capability requirements. Ultimately, the suballiance method was effective in its collaborative approach to involve all alliance partners in order to achieve superior time, cost, and quality outcomes.

BAQ's approach and involvement in the SAFElink Alliance proved the value in the sub-alliance delivery method of major projects that involve the asphalt industry.

"There is no doubt that the appointment of Boral Asphalt as a sub-alliance partner with the SAFElink Alliance has brought huge advantages to our project," said Duncan Ritchie, deputy alliance manager with SAFElink. "At the commencement of the project, the availability of the resources in southeast Queensland were considered to be a major risk, along with the escalation of labor and materials.

"By forming the alliance relationship with Boral, these risks have been continually managed. Plus, the integration of experienced team members within the alliance has been invaluable, as they have effectively provided input into design, planning, construction staging, and resource planning. The decisions made are undertaken on a ‘best-forproject' basis, and with the gainshare regime we established, Boral is rewarded for coming on the journey with us and for exceeding expectations."

The members of the SAFElink Alliance collaborated to effectively complete the $750-million project and, along the way, they created some notable statistics:

  • The project sustained an average of 2,498 direct and indirect jobs;
  • The project resulted in the induction of 4,600 people on site;
  • More than 10,000 native trees and 1.1 million native plants were planted;
  • More than 610 piles were driven and 142 were poured;
  • The project constructed 26 new bridges;
  • The project entailed 49.4 million cubic feet (1.4 million cubic meters) of bulk earthworks;
  • And 462,971 tons (420,000 tonnes) of hot-mix asphalt (HMA) were placed.

Also of note is the fact that this project took place during a peak infrastructure "boom", due to the Government of Queensland's major capital-works investment. In order to produce and place such a high volume of HMA, BAQ needed to ensure their operations were sustainable. Their early involvement with the sub-alliance allowed detailed planning to combat potential issues, such as material resourcing, personnel recruitment, training and development, and technical and commercial management—all of which were in line with the sub-alliance agreement.

To achieve desired project outcomes, the sub-alliance allowed BAQ the security to plan and commit to a capital investment of over $15 million. In February of 2007, Regional Manager McGuire visited the Astec, Inc. headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee and gained a full appreciation for the Astec brand's expertise. He was convinced that not only was their technology the way forward for the asphalt industry, but he was also confident in investing in such equipment due to the available support of Astec's local team, Astec Australia, conveniently located in the immediate vicinity of this and several other BAQ major projects in the western corridor of Brisbane.

BAQ's investments included a compilation of equipment from Roadtec and Astec, Inc., both renowned for superior equipment and belonging to the Astec Industries family of companies. BAQ's fleet was extended to include an additional new Astec T400 Portable Asphalt Plant, two Roadtec RP-190 Pavers, and two Roadtec SB-1500D Shuttle Buggy® material transfer vehicles (MTVs).

Due to the large volume of asphalt required for this project, Astec worked with Boral to design the T400 as a custom combination of an Astec Six Pack® portable HMA facility that is paired with a relocatable long-term storage system. Included in this design are two 150-ton (136-tonne) New Generation Storage Silos that are capable of storing mix for well over three days. The design also included a RAP-feed system to complement the eight cold-feed bins feeding Astec's 8-ft. (2.4-m) Double Barrel® dryer/mixer drum.

McGuire said that the decision to acquire the T400 came easily to Boral's team. "The sheer production capacity and storage capacity, the reliability, the back-up support from Astec Australia, the fuel efficiency, and the low maintenance costs...All of these things looked promising, and in the end, it did deliver to our expectations," said McGuire.

During the course of the SAFElink project, Astec Australia offered comprehensive conditioninspection reports, complete with photographs and recommended preventive actions, and regular maintenance to ensure the full utilization of the T400—imperative for the output of asphalt required to satisfy the needs of the SAFElink project and many projects to come.

The addition of two new Roadtec RP-190 pavers and two Roadtec SB-1500D Shuttle Buggy MTVs contributed to a successful SAFElink project. Although all were brand-new machines, BAQ's mobile paving fleet was already familiar with Roadtec pavers and MTVs.

"Their availability, successful previous use, and the familiarity of our operators—along with the back-up support from Astec Australia—was a complementary addition to our existing fleet," said McGuire of the Roadtec equipment.

At the time of the SAFElink project, Astec Australia had also launched routine machine inspections for paving equipment of any model. The inspection reports offered the same level of detail as the inspection reports for the Astec T400: photographs, checks, and preventive measures and recommendations.

"We used Astec on this project specifically to support our own people and to ensure that there was no equipment downtime on this very important project," said McGuire. "Astec Australia has always appreciated and fully understand just how critically important it is for our equipment to be operational all the time. And the proximity of Astec Australia to the project site was an added bonus. We used the information to input into Boral's own maintenance system."

Riding over the extra-smooth open-graded surface of this mammoth project, it is difficult to feel any bumps at all. It comes as no surprise that Boral is extremely proud of the ride results their crews achieved on this job. Using their Roadtec Shuttle Buggy MTVs to feed their Roadtec RP-190 rubber-tire paver and their Roadtec RP-195 rubber-track paver, Boral achieved super smooth ride results that were superior to the required specification by more than 50 percent.

Boral has now added the Astec Double Barrel Green® system to their 400 tph (363 tonnes per hour) plant for making warm-mix asphalt (WMA). The Astec Double Barrel Green system was installed in just a few days, and now provides Boral with the capability of producing mix at lower temperatures, thereby reducing emissions from Boral's plant by over 14 percent and saving them more than 14 percent in fuel costs—which itself is a "SAFElink" to the future!


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