David Moran recently moved from John Holland to Hatch, where he hopes to build business in Australia and Asia by tapping into the company’s international expertise.
create: What are you hoping to achieve in this new job?
DAVID MORAN: We’re trying to build the Australian infrastructure business in public infrastructure to the point where we’re seen as being a tier one engineering business in Australia and Asia. We’re trying to establish ourselves in road, rail and aviation, plus a big focus on tunnelling.
create: Where do you see the opportunities in the Australian infrastructure market?
DM: The opportunities that we really saw are doing things differently. We’re trying to build a design business that’s very outcome focused. We’re not just working with contractors, we’re actually forming partnerships with contractors, where we effectively become their technical advisor and designer and then we share in both the project delivery risks and opportunities. That’s how we work globally. It’s very different to how a lot of our competitors operate.
create: You mentioned tunnelling. Are there enugh engineers in Australia with this sort of experience or do you need to bring in a bit of outside help to try and build up those skills locally?
DM: In those real specialist fields such as tunnelling, you need to have some global mobility. We’re a subcontractor to AECOM to be their independent reviewer on the Melbourne Metro Project. We won that role because we have a lot of large underground CBD cavern construction review experience. We’ve got people who have spent their lives doing that work. That sort of work has not been done in Australia in recent history. Most of the caverns have been more suburban, but both in Sydney, on the Sydney Metro Project and in Melbourne on the Melbourne Metro Project, we’re now getting these significant caverns that are right in the middle of the city. That, by nature of the fact that work hasn’t been done in the past 20 years in Australia, means there’s a need to bring that experience in from overseas. We’re bringing a lot of that from Canada in fact.
create: Does the construction industry generally need to be a bit more innovative in the way they approach some of these projects?
DM: What we’re seeing is the early stages of the BIM revolution. The technology exists now to provide a far superior level of project delivery through virtual construction, prior to the actual construction. That technology is so underused in Australia, that the opportunity is substantial.
It almost needs a bit of a trigger for that use to be picked up. In the United Kingdom, the government started to mandate certain BIM standards and you see in projects like Crossrail, very substantially advanced use of BIM compared to what we’ve seen in Australia.
I think if the Australian Government was to do something similar, then that would probably be the little push that the industry needs. For reasons I can’t explain, the contractors haven’t really embraced the use of BIM to the extent that they potentially should or would benefit from if they did.
create: What would you say is the most interesting project you’ve worked on and why?
DM: It’s very important. We need to be increasingly prudent with our limited supply of resources. We play a role and not just with the way we design our projects and the minimisation of the design where possible, but it’s the materials that we select. Contractors are under increasing pressure themselves.
We work with those contractors to minimise the impact of the project not just on its local environment, but on the environment more broadly, just by things like minimising carbon footprints and the likes. I guess that all ties in pretty close to that being innovative in our approach as well.