We caught up with Justin Bulte from Central Engineering and Gerard Ryan from RYCON Constructions to chat about their most recent collaboration on a minimalist commercial build combining a warehouse office space.
Tell us a bit about Central Engineering.
JUSTIN: Central Engineering is a structural steel fabrication business with capacity for up to 100t of fabricated steel per week. Established in 1975 as a small family business, we have now grown to around 40 permanent employees plus loyal subcontractors, reliable suppliers, and great customers. We service South East Qld and Northern NSW.
How long have you been working with RYCON and what makes it such an enjoyable partnership?
JUSTIN: Central Engineering has been working with RYCON for the past 7 or 8 years. Their team is fantastic to work with. They are organised, realistic, professional, capable, fair, and pay on time. We love working with them because they share the same principles and values that we uphold and live by here at Central Engineering.
GERARD: I agree. Long-standing relationships in this industry are very much a reflection of the values of each business. I have always sought to work with companies that appreciate innovative and sustainable design by ensuring a collaborative and open communication process.
What role do strong working relationships play in successfully delivering big projects like the Evans Road, Caboolture project?
JUSTIN: Strong working relationships really matter when delivering big projects because it is based on confidence and trust that each business can deliver a quality project on time and on budget. Having experienced these capabilities from project to project provides an understanding of what each party needs, expects, and is capable of. Relationships matter!
GERARD: Any building project, and in particular large form warehouses like this, rely on clear, open, and honest communications. When you are familiar with each other, the working relationship becomes much more seamless. We enjoy working with Central Engineering because they consistently deliver and do exactly what they say they’re going to do.
Tell us about your recent project with RYCON for the Evans Road, Caboolture project. What importance did your structural steel play in the project?
JUSTIN: Central Engineering was contracted to supply and install the structural steel works for the Evans Rd, Caboolture project in 2022. Structural steel is one of the main components in the project’s critical path. It is essential to coordinate programming and scopes of work with both the preceding and following trades, to achieve a successful and efficient outcome.
GERARD: Structural steel is always on the critical path of the construction program, as it holds all the precast panels in place, which in turn allows the roof to be installed and ground slabs poured. It is always important to order the steel as soon as the building contract is signed. In some cases, due to our established relationships with clients, we often order the steel before we sign our contract to avoid delays to the project.
Were there any challenges you were faced with on this project? How did you and the RYCON team overcome them?
JUSTIN: This project did not face any significant challenges because RYCON Constructions contracted experienced and well-known subcontractors early, including Central Engineering. During 2022 there were significant supply chain constraints and skills shortages, however, these were overcome by early procurement by RYCON and early engagement with suppliers by Central Engineering.
GERARD: No, due to ongoing working relationships with our suppliers and the likes of our preferred subcontractors, we review and plan for any potential challenges. The Evans Rd project was generally a straightforward project that was planned and executed well by all involved.
What innovations have there been in structural steel in the past few years and how might that change the landscape of how buildings are made in Australia?
JUSTIN: Innovation within the structural steel industry has been incremental for many years. We see small progressive changes such as the manufacture of raw steel increasingly from green energy, greater use of recycled steel, improvements in quality controls and procedures within our workshop, increased real time data availability, advancements in laser cutting, and increased use and capability of automation. These advancements lead to productivity and quality improvements, quicker delivery times, reduced costs, and increased capacity, but require capital investment and upskilling.
GERARD: Steel fabrication has become very efficient thanks to computer modelling. All the workshop drawings we now produce pick up every single aspect of the process. This effectively allows the steel to be manufactured and erected in record time. When the drawings are detailed, coordinated effectively, and managed well by the builder, the job literally goes together like a Meccano set. This saves time, which equates to cost savings.
What types of projects or engineering challenges inspire you?
JUSTIN: What inspires us is working with professional builders like RYCON Constructions on large warehouse structures. Ramping up our fabrication workshop and watching the trucks roll in with raw materials, and then leaving with finished products to be installed on site is so satisfying. Witnessing the results of our hard labour becoming another awesome building is always inspiring.
GERARD: We have been busy over the past few years with more and more commercial projects and the team are really enjoying the scale of these builds. While we continue to keep the residential side of RYCON busy, the big warehouses and office spaces we have been contracted to build always offer a different type of satisfaction. We are also fortunate to now be working on a number of commercial projects for repeat clients, so the interactions with them are more familiar and that is enjoyable.
What’s ahead for Central Engineering and RYCON?
JUSTIN: Central Engineering has the skills, quality, capacity and experience that RYCON Constructions requires to successfully deliver structural steelwork for industrial and commercial builders in South East Qld. We are confident the strength of our relationship will continue well into the future as both our companies work together to deliver awesome projects.
GERARD: Yes, working with Central Engineering is most definitely on the cards for us in the future. As we work through our 20th year in business in 2023, we have four commercial projects currently on the go that will take us through to the end of the year. Next year is looking like another busy one across both our commercial and residential divisions, so maintaining strong relationships with suppliers like Central Engineering remains a core focus for our company.
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