Goodline is a multi-faceted, multi-location, diverse and ambitious Australian success story. In the course of less than a decade it has grown from a modest operation to a massive company employing over 1,000 people across the country with another expansion in the planning stages.
Goodline’s roster of projects is nothing if not impressive. At Port Hedland alone they were responsible for much of the initial stages of construction that allowed the now-massive port to operate and crucial components of Fortescue Metals Group initial throughput. That relationship continues as FMG moves into its company-making 155mtpa expansion, with Goodline tasked with additional work on the port to enable FMG’s ambitious plans.
Goodline’s skill set includes construction of works consisting of steel erection, mechanical and electrical installation plumbing, carpentry and civil projects. They also carry out maintenance and shut downs works of the same disciplines and they render these diverse skills well enough to have expanded by almost of factor of ten since their beginnings, a true Australian success story.
This story has relatively humble beginnings. Owner and managing director John Kennedy bought the business, which began in the far north Queensland town of Weipa, site of the world’s largest bauxite mine, “to serve the bauxite for Rio Tinto, Comalco at the time.” Kennedy’s plan was to be the main contractor in town and “supply a service to the mining operations, and supply a service to the community, which is a very isolated remote place in Australia” says Dwayne Finch, General Manager.
That phase in the company’s history culminated in the 2004 expansion that saw the Weipa-based operation grow to more than 200 employees.
And then the phone rang. “Out of the blue we got call from a contact over in Port Hedland, they said ‘you need to come over here, we could do with a contractor like you’ so I got on a plane, flew over there, had a meeting with them. They couldn’t give us any work but said ‘if you come over here maybe we can give you some piecemeal work,’ so we went from there.”
From that offer of piecemeal work grew today’s real concentration of Goodline’s manpower and activity: the five person team initially sent to the Pilbara has grown to more than 500 today in Port Hedland alone.
Indeed, Goodline has been crucial to the development of Port Hedland as the engine room of Australia’s remarkable resource boom.
While the original location of Weipa still boasts more than 120 people and a further 50 work out of the Darwin operation, with approximately 70 in the Kawana head office, Port Hedland “could be classed as ground zero,” says Finch. And Goodline’s reach extends beyond the port itself.
“There’s a lot of mining sites 200 to 300 kilometres from Port Hedland and we service them.”
Goodline played a pivotal role in the construction of the port itself, specifically on FMG’s first berth, starting in 2006 in the very early stages of construction.
Goodline was among the first contractors in the port’s earliest days, while the monumental task of dredging the harbour — known for its massive sandbank, requiring dredging for miles out to sea — was being completed. They set up many of the offices required for the construction, plumbed both the first fire water and the first potable water, and most impressive of all, fashioned an island from the dredge sludge.
“[They] dredged it up, dewatered it and get the slimes off it and built an outload facility named Australia Island,” says Kennedy. “We constructed the revetment wall around the external perimeter to protect the ground structure from the sea water given the large tidal activities. FMG went on to claim an engineering award for the first development.
Kennedy and Finch rattle off a head-spinning list of Goodline’s contributions to the construction of FMG’s first berth at Port Hedland.
“We did the abutment wall and revetment wall. From there we did the first expansion of the stockyard facility from a mechanical and structural point of view; the construction, so all the steel erection, mechanical conveyors, transfer stations, sample stations, we did some minor civil works by doing all the conveyor footings and we also assisted on the first train unloader,” says Kennedy.
They were also involved in ramping FMG’s then-45mtpa output up to 55mtpa.
Indeed Goodline are a key contractor for FMG, having assisted every one of the company’s Pilbara operations: Port Hedland, Cloudbreak, Christmas Creek and Solomon operations.
At Christmas Creek, one of the Chichester hub operations, Goodline built the first phase of the stockyard facility in a joint venture with ECM, a task which included “all the conveyors, transfer stations and the train load-out bin. We did the tie in from the crushing and screening plant. We built from there the stockyard facility out to the train load-out,” says Finch.
“From there we’ve kept a small team doing capital sustaining works; small projects to enhance the operations, to optimize the efficiencies of operations there.
We are now in progress of completing the 2nd phase of the stockyard expansion covering all disciplines — mechanical, electrical and civil. Instead of having a large contractor come in and do all the work, we’re just doing bits and pieces of it as it progresses.”
Solomon is the next focus for Goodline’s partnership with FMG, and even by their enviable standards the massive project is likely to be a challenge. “We are currently building three stockyard machines for Thyssen Krupp, our relationship with TK has developed quite well we have been working closely together to ensure the successful delivery of these machines for FMG,” says Finch.
Goodline, in concert with Thyssen Krupp, are pulling it out of the hat once again with the timeline “moving along at a great clip – it’s a six to seven month build there; it will be finished by October.” says Kennedy.
For one key component of this immense project, Goodline along with Worley Parsons and the FMG team fashioned an inventive solution to find a way around the thorny issue of the Pilbara’s accommodation shortage.
“[FMG] came up against some accommodation issues; they wanted to fast track the schedule. To have that happen they wanted the civil works to happen concurrently with the steel erection. So we changed the whole concept into a modular off-site build which was conducted down in Perth,” says Finch.
“We were able to have the civil works and bulk earthworks happen while we were building plant down in [Perth].”
By constructing modules off-site while the foundations were being built on-site simultaneously, the project’s time frame was cut by 40 per cent and the question of securing accommodation for additional workers was side-stepped.
Nine pre-assembled modules – transfer stations and drive stations for the port stockyard – were constructed and erected at the Australian Marine Complex in Perth and then transported to Port Hedland by barge. “We took a roll on/roll off approach using SPMTs (self-propelled modular transporters) onto the barge, delivered the whole cargo to Port Hedland by sea transport,” says Finch “and then bought it into a MOF that Worley Parsons had designed and NRW constructed so we could load off these modules. Mammoet Crane and Heavy Lift Company was selected and supplied the SMPTs as well as skilled operators to secure and drive the modules to their final destination on the concrete foundations on site.”
The rationale for this inventive solution was to save time and gain efficiency.
“It was driven by accommodation and schedule, mainly schedule but accommodation had a big part to play in it. That was the key driver, so we got together collectively with FMG and Worley Parsons to be able to deliver a pre-assembled concept.”
This innovative approach resulted in time efficiency while side-stepping the accommodation issue. ”They were the two big key items,” says Finch. “On the backend of that we’ve seen an economic benefit out of it as well, as in costs to the project.”
The pre-assembled approach has come into play since then on other projects.
“We also did all the conveyor galleries and low level modules,” says Kennedy. “We preassembled and set them all up on jigs down there and then we road transported them up [to the Pilbara from Perth.] on trucks, we made up some adapting plates we could carry on each trailer, we could carry two modules and still get within the transport parameters we were against and trailered them all up there.”
Also as part of FMG’s expansion, Goodline did the heavy lift loads of the two new train unloaders for the in loading circuit. “We built everything from the bottom floor at the feed-out level on the conveyors up to the train tippler cells and the lifts consisted of over 250 tonnes lifts.”
“For all the work we have conducted at the T155 project Port we have been selected to be an entrant collectively with Worley Parsons and FMG in the Western Australia Engineering Excellence Awards,” says Finch. “It is a very proud and exciting time for us.
While Goodline are no doubt an important partner to FMG, it also works with other clients at Port Hedland. “We’re doing a lot for BHP at the moment, we just finished a project, we’re building some conveyors for them and the next stage is more deconstruction plus more conveyors and transfer stations,” says Kennedy.
“We provide a major workforce there of 300 to 350 people who serve as the operations team for BHP, FMG and so on.”
While the focus for much of the company’s work is the Pilbara, Goodline has kept its headquarters in the same state in which it began.
Goodline’s head office in the city of Kawana on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast employs close to 70 people covering administration, accounting, procurement, human resources, IT, senior management and small project teams.
“We’ve established our head office here under one roof in a city and not a remote location where we would have to provide [employees] with accommodation and the labour rate would be more expensive,” says Kennedy. “It’s a massive operation – and it’s getting bigger.”
Part of the reason the company is headquartered on the Sunshine Coast is its proximity to the coal-producing region of Queensland, indeed, Goodline’s next ambition is to take the abilities they’ve honed in handling iron ore and transfer them to coal moving forward.
“We’re looking in the Bowen and Surat Basin at the moment,” says Finch. “We just completed a job last year up there for the Abbot Point Coal Terminal operated by Xstrata but recently taken over by Adani. We’re now focussed on looking at our customer base there with BMA, Adani and Bechtel. We want to provide a similar service with projects over the coming years.”
“We focus a lot on the materials handling end, we’ve done very well at providing a service to construction and materials handling services to the iron ore industry in the way of conveyors, stackers, reclaimers, train-loadout, ship loaders, and we want to do the same for coal now,” says Finch. “It’s a similar concept and that’s our focus. We know that we’re good at that in the business.”
“We’re probably industry leaders when it comes to being able to set those plants up and have them run efficiently and have them meet those milestone dates so we want to bring that to the coal industry.”
Clients for this are likely to include such mining giants as BMA, Adani, Hancock Coal, Xstrata and EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management) such as Worley Parsons, Bechtel and Aurecon Hatch.
Accordingly, the Queensland branch of the company is in the process of an expansion that calls for the addition of another 200 people by the middle of next year.
Finch is upbeat about the challenging and ambitious year Goodline has in front of it: “We are ambitious. We deliver quite well; we meet all the client’s needs.
We like an open book policy where we can be transparent and we like to resolve problems. We like to think we’re pretty innovative — if there’s a problem onsite or a problem within the EPCM team to deliver that, whether it is fabrication, material supply, we like to assist as much as possible and come up with ideas that work for everybody. The modular solution was an example of that.”
“Another example of that might be if another contractor on site was having resource problems and things like that,” says Kennedy. “We look at the project as a whole, because we’re pretty diverse, we can supply electrical, mechanical, plumbing, carpentry and in civil works we can supply resources to those other contractors if required.”
With an eye to facilitating growth in the Pilbara, Goodline have expansion plans for their small corporate operation in Perth that should see the office expanding from one person to six, depending on the growth of work, before the end of the year.
As if all that isn’t quite enough, Goodline also provides quality surveyors and quality supervision services in China; a team of 14 from Goodline work in conjunction with “the accommodation buildings that are coming into Australia,” says Kennedy.
“We have also deployed people to assist with the stockyard machines.”
It’s yet another facet to add to the diverse skill set that has come to characterise Goodline as it goes from strength to strength.
“Goodline has grown quite rapidly,” says Kennedy. “We are now investing time and effort in ensuring we have the correct systems and resources in place to continue this growth. We are a good, honest, hard-working, privately-owned Australian business with a focus on the construction and maintenance side for the mining, hydrocarbon, building and local government authorities.”
“As do a lot of other business, we strive for success and to ensure this is obtained we create innovation within our team. We try not to overcomplicate the solution. We firmly believe that the two most important activities within any project are safety and schedule, and we have created an environment to ensure these run concurrently” states Finch.
“We are a young and enthusiastic team and we will be expanding into the future.”