Super User

On Thursday 14 July, Coleman Rail and Alstom held a Supplier Engagement Forum at Pullman Melbourne On The Park, one which was very well received by all those in attendance.

The forum outlined how local suppliers can best engage with us to create long term partnerships focused on delivering supply chain innovations and skills development. The forum also included presentations by Victoria's leading University &s; Vocational Training institutions and DCNS Australia.

Agenda highlights:

Coleman Rail & Alstom

Victoria's leading integrated railway infrastructure specialists, Coleman Rail and Alstom, provided further information on the procurement process for suppliers including the Jobs, Skills and Supplier development initiatives planned for future opportunities.

University Graduate & Vocational Training Programs

Federation University, Chisholm TAFE and RAW Recruitment provided an overview of their training and graduate programs, and outlined how best to access these resources to enable you to deliver better training and employment outcomes.

DCNS Australia

The European leader in naval defence, DCNS also outlined their engagement process for local suppliers.

This year’s excursion for students and departmental staff from The University of Melbourne (UoM) was to Coventry St. Apartments in South Melbourne, a project that comprises a 2-level basement car park, with 8 levels above ground and a rooftop garden terrace. Geotech was engaged as the specialist subcontractor by Figurehead Construction for the design & construction of the retention works including 78 no. soldier piles, temporary steel propping of adjoining walls, 150 no. temporary ground anchors and approx. 1,000m² of shotcrete infill panels.

UoM Students Annual Visit to a Geotech Site

General Manager Nic Morgan’s presentation to the students described the design complexities and geotechnical conditions of the site, and construction techniques required to undertake the works.

UoM was extremely pleased with the excursion and received a lot of positive feedback from both students and colleagues.

Manager Nic Morgan’s presentation to the students

Geotech’s close association with UoM goes back some 30-odd years, the last decade of which has taken the form of annual excursions to various Geotech construction sites for students completing their “Geotechnical Engineering” subject. Recent excursions include field trips to Botanica Apartments in Balwyn, The Icon Apartments in St Kilda, the new Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville and the Moonee Ponds Central shopping centre (examples of basement works), and to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Flemington Racecourse (tunnelling works).

UoM Students Annual Visit to a Geotech Site

We look forward to next year’s excursion, where students can make the connection between the 'theory' they learn in class and 'real world' practice.

Story by John Harms (@ratherbeatlunch)

Over the past twelve months the Geotech Group (Geotech) and John Beever Australia have been responsible for a major project in the port precinct of Melbourne for an enterprise which shows that heavy industry certainly has a place in the life (and economy) of Victoria, and Australia.


Since 1989 Steel Cement, part of Independent Cement and Lime, a company which is now jointly owned by Adelaide Brighton and the Barro Group, has operated a highly successful slag-cement plant at 32 South Wharf, and Lorimer Street, sites leased from the Melbourne Port Authority. It has become the major provider of cement in Victoria. Recently, however, Steel Cement faced a significant problem which threatened to have an impact on its future.

This slag-cement manufacturing operation began when Alan Dow and his colleagues at Independent Cement saw how a neat logistical circumstance could form the foundation of a very successful business. A local boy, Alan was a graduate of Swinburne University in mechanical engineering. After developing his career on projects in South Gippsland, where he played football for Wonthaggi, he returned to Melbourne where he could see an outstanding opportunity. There were obvious benefits – economic, environmental, engineering – in sourcing slag to be used in the manufacture of cement. Slag-cement is 25% more energy-efficient than Portland cement and provides a 50-year design-life, which is also considerably better performance. It has much going for it. And there were ready sources available, albeit from far away.

For many years, raw iron ore has been shipped from Port Hedland in Western Australia to Japan for smelting. It is reduced to iron and steel in blast furnaces. While in a molten state, all other matter is removed. That by-product, which includes various oxides, is called slag. For each tonne of iron produced, one third of a tonne of slag is removed.

Slag, however, is certainly not a waste product. It has a valuable use of its own. When further refined, in a comparatively straight-forward process pioneered in Germany in the nineteenth century, and developed to be efficiently productive now, that slag can be used to make high-grade concrete.


Independent Cement realised the ships which carried such products as iron ore and timber for wood chips to Japan would normally return empty to Australia. They negotiated to buy slag from the steel manufacturers and have it transported back to Australia in those very ships. At a number of steel refining ports around Japan, they are unloaded and reloaded at the same berth.

The ships then deliver the slag to Steel Cement’s Port Melbourne processing plant, where it has been turned into the bulk cement used in major infrastructure projects – Bolte Bridge, Southbank, Hume Freeway, Docklands Stadium and many others – or packaged up for commercial sale to the building industry and wherever cement is used.

However, two years or so ago, when the 25 year lease was coming to the end of its term, the Melbourne Port Authority made it clear they intended using the Lorimer Street site for other purposes.

Independent Cement had no intention of closing down operations. The enterprise was profitable, it provided quality cementitious products for local use, and it was environmentally sound. The company needed to find a solution – and reasonably quickly.

They were able to secure land for purchase directly across the river Yarra at 295 Whitehall Street, Yarraville, near Wharf 5 and Wharf 6. However, this meant the entire plant had to either be moved, or a new plant designed and built. The company chose to re-design, upgrading equipment and systems which represented world’s best practice. The new site will produce 500,000 tonnes of cement per annum, up from 260,000 tonnes per annum at the original site.


John Beever Australia was contracted to project manage the design and building of the $60 million plant. The job to establish this state-of-the-art site has involved expertise, materials and equipment from a number of countries: Japan, USA, Germany, China, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia. However, the majority of the installation was self-performed by John Beever Australia. Only a handful of specialist contractors such as plumbers, structural riggers and scaffolders were engaged at various times to assist.

With the site near completion, the major infrastructure is now in place. Operations will begin in mid-September. The imported Japanese slag will be unloaded at Wharf 5, and in the short-term trucked to the plant. (It will eventually be moved by a conveyor belt.)

It will be unloaded into an enormous shed, where there are three storage facilities, two 300 tonne slag silos, and one 100 tonne gypsum silo. A front-end loader will lift the materials onto a long, enclosed conveyor belt. The slag and gypsum will be carried to the processing tower for milling.

The 32 metre high milling tower was built using 300 tonnes of structural steel. The Mill was made in Japan, with local supplied structural steel, then assembled on the Yarraville site – like a giant Meccano set. The construction was advantaged by the use of Geotech’s 150 tonne crawler crane, which meant that the tower and the UBE Vertical Roller Mill (VRM) could be put together on the ground and lifted into place, bringing to an absolute minimum the amount of building completed at heights.


The VRM, which will grind down the slag and crush it into powder, is designed and manufactured by UBE, a major Japanese industrial company. UBE and Steel Cement have a long standing relationship, which brought in the substantial technical expertise of the Japanese firm.

During the assembly of the VRM, Project Manager Grant Case and his team of engineers were advised by one of UBE’s leading supervisors. As Grant notes: “A major challenge was the communications barrier with Toshi Ueda, who had barely a word of English. Luckily the crew were equipped with iPads and English-Japanese translation apps. One of the funniest moments was listening to Bob Berouti translate to Toshi the site induction and evacuation procedure.”

Toshi really enjoyed his time here. He fell in love with the MCG and the strange games played there – cricket and footy – and the quality of the beer. Toshi was particularly intrigued by the Carlton and Richmond match at the start of the AFL season and no doubt took some stories back to Japan.

Another innovative aspect of the construction was the way the main 3,000 tonne silo came to life. It was assembled from the bottom, and then lifted layer-by-layer, using 5 tonne jacks. In total 30,000 bolts hold the panels together. This construction was supported by Russell Keays of Keays Engineering.

In the process of making the cement, the VRM crushes the slag and enormous hot air fans lift the fine particles, which then settle in the major silo. The material is then trucked away.

The process on the new site is highly efficient and, when up and running and in full swing, will continue to supply a large share of top-quality cement to satisfy Victoria’s ever-growing need for both new projects and the restoration of old.

Many other good things have come out of this large project. It has given Geotech and Grant Case an opportunity to reconnect after 12 years. Much has happened in the interim and Geotech was delighted to hear Grant’s enthusiasm for the Group. “The same company spirit and loyalty is still evident,” Grant said during the project, “with several former colleagues now showcasing their skills in senior roles within the organisation.”

These are big jobs where people are faced with enormous responsibility. There is always a deep sense of achievement once they are completed and meet our client’s highest expectations.


The Geotech Group Board of Directors recently visited two of our key projects at Melbourne Freight Terminal in West Melbourne (Coleman Rail) and Slag Grinding Mill in Yarraville (John Beever Australia).

Run Melbourne Article 1 alt

Coleman Rail is currently undertaking Stage 2 works on the Melbourne Freight Terminal Redevelopment Project for Pacific National, which is scheduled for practical completion on 3 September 2015. Stage 2 works entail:

  • The duplication of an existing track (Coke Rd) into a new broad gauge line (Transfer Rd), to assist in the transfer of steel between standard gauge and broad gauge trains with the use of reach stackers. This will enable BlueScope Steel’s trains from South Australia to travel to BlueScope at Hastings (and vice versa), through the Melbourne Freight Terminal;
  • Pavement upgrades generally to the north of the terminal to assist in Freight Terminal driver and operator driveability;
  • The construction of the Steel Products Area, to assist with the relocation of BlueScope Steel Operations from the Melbourne Steel Terminal (where the lease has expired), to the Melbourne Freight Terminal. The works involve the construction of a 1,000m² all-weather protection facility shed, for the storage of steel products;
  • Installation of a new above ground fire main and service utility run along the Dynon Rd boundary, over a 1.3km length;
  • Construction of a new 6,800m² pavement area for driver parking; and
  • Terminal entry reconfigurations, including new traffic warning lights and a roundabout for the main entrance, between Gates 1-6.

Stage 1 works are also still underway, with practical completion forecast for 26 October 2015. These works entail the construction of the remaining 50% of Crane Rail to complete the 723m Gantry Length, as well as 40% of the remaining container buffer pavements.

Run Melbourne Article 1 alt

The Board was given a presentation by Project Manager, Nic Tribonias, before undertaking a site walk to view the new Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes in full operation, and to gain a better understanding of tasks currently at hand onsite.


Meanwhile, John Beever Australia has just started commissioning their works at the Slag Grinding Mill project for Steel Cement. The new Vertical Roller Mill and associated equipment in Yarraville is a replica of the existing plant in Port Melbourne, with the replica required so the land in Port Melbourne can be reclaimed to provide ships using the port with a bigger turning circle.

Run Melbourne Article 1 alt

Steel Cement General Manager, Alan Dow, gave the Board a presentation that detailed the history of the site and an overview of the project to date. That was followed by a site walk with Project Manager, Grant Case.

Run Melbourne Article 1 alt


Part of the Board’s visit included Safety Assessment Spot Checks, regularly carried out by Senior Management across the Group to help ensure that the workforce is conducting itself safely.

The Geotech Group had 24 runners go round in Sunday’s The Age Run Melbourne event, where over 23,000 participants challenged themselves in the 3km Kids event, 5km run/walk, 10km run or Brooks half-marathon. The weather was cold, but relatively kind, given the dire forecast.

Run Melbourne Article 1 alt

Ryan Walkenhorst absolutely destroyed the half-marathon in 1:16:28.1. That is elite running and at that speed he would have won any category.

The controversial winner in the 10km category was Chris Spinella in the unofficial time of 43:23. Unofficial because the Spaz forgot to collect his runner’s pack and went around sans bib and timer. A point quickly seized upon by Bede Noonan, next home in 44.50.5 but happy to declare himself the official champion.

Bill Kirk was first home in the 5km, but gets no kudos for downsizing from the 10km last year.

Geotech Run Melbourne

The incentive to train and run in the middle of winter was our fundraising for the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Fund via UNICEF. On that, we must thank our corporate partners in BJ Safety Supplies, as well as the major contributions we received from the following clients:

  • Hamilton & Marino Builders
  • Crema Construction
  • Champions Lawyers
  • Caterina Loverso from BJS Insurance Group
  • Luka Tippers & Excavations
  • The O'Neill Group
  • Figurehead
  • Adams Consulting Engineers
  • GeoAust Geotechnical Engineers
  • Cockram Construction
  • Redgum Wealth Group
  • Chun Group

With donations still coming through, we will raise over $15,300 thanks to the generous support of family, friends, colleagues and clients. And donations can still be made until Friday, August 28 via the following link:

A short video of the event is available via the following link:

Hopefully more will join us in 2016, though good luck running down Walks…

Geotech Run Melbourne

P.S. As an example of how easy it is to spruik about running immediately after the event, the lumbering Ty Newman scoffed at people taking 50+ minutes to run 10km. So we’ll watch his 2016 debut with interest.





Ryan Walkenhorst





Chris Spinella



Bede Noonan



Jim Shaw



John Fogarty



John Dynan



Mark Opitz



Cameron Dunlop



Fleur Shaw-Jones



Sean Holt



Sam Cranston



Nic Morgan



Jose Sorto



David Chaffey



Ed Malibunas



Sam Osoba



Dene Macleod



Jessie Ly



Elise Dodd





Bill Kirk



Lachlan McNab



Tracey Rogers



Georgina Lucas



Esther Lethlean




Geotech Run Melbourne


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Geotech Group Youtube

  • Coleman Rail Officer Shutdown Stage 1
  • Coleman Rail Officer Shutdown Stage 2
  • Coleman Rail Domain Interchange