15 July 2019

Being a regional graduate surveyor - accepting the challenge

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We've recently taken on a graduate surveyor to help out with our rail services team.

Jacky at GemallaJacky had previously worked on medium density and hospital projects in Sydney so he wasn't too sure what it was like working in a regional environment. I'm very close to his boss and had rang seeking recommendations on recruitment specialists. We traditionally recruit from the the regions we work in. Kids from the country already know of the challenges they and their families face. Coping with these challenges is in their DNA. Yet the work still poured in so we had to try a new strategy....hiring city surveyors!!

A city born surveyor was new to us. Moreover, what we do is new to Jacky. He is still wrapping his head around the wide range of skill sets we have. I know he's a bit trepidations about our expectations of all our staff. We've found over the years that some step-up and accept the challenge and others don't or can't. Either way is OK as we don't want people to hate coming to work. At the end of the day, you've got to love what we do and there is nothing worse than seeing someone hate their job.

In this line of work, you've got to love the job challenges and the work environment.

When you're on a job site doing the setting out of a railway you designed last week and you're suddenly asked about the region's socio-economic status as a result of improved freight movements, you need to think fast and not be a narrow technician. The fact that the surveyor has established the first survey control network, detailed the site, re-established the corridor boundaries, assessed the roads at the rail crossings, considered the environment and designed the track alignment and drainage is a considerable skill set. Many years of post-graduate on the job training is required followed by competency assessments by the client to gain engineering authority and the Board of Surveying and Spatial Information. All this can only be achieved through personalised mentoring and a structured training program.

I keep telling our people that we're problem solvers and that we use our surveying education, training and experience to solve problems. The client doesn't care about your qualifications, all he cares about is you being able to solve his problem and without causing any headaches. Make the client's his problem disappear and you'll continue to get work. Anticipate future problems and he'll give you more. That's how a good surveyor becomes invaluable to a client.

That's what we do and a lot of people struggle with that responsibility. Hence the need for mentoring and a structured training program. But this isn't enough without innate curiosity to learn new skills, to be challenged and to discover purpose.

We've taught Jacky how to drive a 4WD, he's met his first wombat and snake, and been taught the language of regional Australia. What's he's found is that country people are accepting and willing to give anyone a go. 

So, who wants to be a regional surveyor? I can guarantee you'll never be bored and you'll discover how good you can be.

PS Jacky made the mistake of trying to drive one of the survey vehicles in front of 20 railway workers. At the time, he wasn't familiar with the manual gears of the ute. The resulting kangaroo hops automatically endeared him to the team. In a world where no one is called by their actual name, Jacky's is now "Skip". If Jacky isn't on a job site, we're asked "Where's Skip"? You gotta love Aussie humour.

14 July 2019

Track reconstruction at Gemalla

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Ever wanted to know what Hanlons are up to when we are out of the office and "on site''? 

After completing the original design on the rail line near Bathurst, Hanlons completed the construction survey to make sure the track was put into the right position. 

If any of our measurements are off, the trains can't reach the design speed, timetables aren't met and the life of the hardware (i.e. rail and sleepers) is reduced. The exactness of the measurements and calculations comes into play from beginning to end, ensuring the maximum return on public investment in infrastructure is achieved.  

We are lucky that we can travel this great land and see what it has to offer, while doing the job we love. 



04 June 2019

Hanlons are on the job

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Hanlons Consulting have several teams working in Temora at the heart of the southern NSW grain growing region. From Surveyors to planners, Hanlons are on the Job and in this weather, it is cold. 

Grain Corp's rail loadout facility at Temora Sub Terminal require full pavement depth reconstruction, skim reconstruction for ballast renewal and realignment. The Hanlons team provided work plans, design report and survey support during construction works. It's important these facilities are maintained particularly during the current drought,  any grain produced this season needs to be transported in the most efficient manner possible. 

Australian grain farmers annually grow 45 million tonnes of wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, canola and pulses such as chickpeas and faba bean, which at the farm gate alone is worth $13.5 billion. This production generates more than 170,000 jobs in rural and regional areas across Australia. Over 70% of Australia’s grain production is exported, earning some $11.4bn in export earnings annually, and accounting for more than a quarter of all agricultural export earnings. 

With these figures in mind, the Temora Sub Terminal required higher axle loadings on our regional rail network and efficient "first mile" and "last mile" loading and receival facilities in other locations.

We at Hanlons fully understand the important of rail networks to our regional communities. Without them, farmers and the local economy could not be sustained.

20 May 2019

The Masterplan Project

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The study for the freight terminal at Wumbulgal was launched on 30th June 2018, which showcased the master plan and road linkages study for the WRConnect.  

It’s an operational freight terminal built on a budget to aggregate grains, cotton and hay for export via rail. The masterplan project was a joint venture of five Councils (Leeton, Griffith, Carrathol, Narrandera and Murrumbidgee), NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and Transport for NSW.

The site sits in Leeton Shire on the boundary with Griffith City Council. The site is located within NSW’s most productive agricultural region, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. The establishment of an expanded, efficient, state-of-the-art and common access intermodal freight terminal at WRConnect will support the modal shift of containerised agricultural and manufacturing freight in the Region, onto rail, and allow the economic benefits to be realised.

The project aligns with the NSW government’s 20 Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW and the Western Riverina Regional Economic Development Strategy. It also reflects Leeton Shire Council’s Community Strategic Plan which recognises the importance of good road and rail connectivity and, as the demand for freight doubles by 2031, highlights that the facility at WRConnect will need to be expanded to accommodate this. Government funding will enable the vision is achieved.

We were tasked with the privilege of project managing the technical matters with the masterplan and with authoring the road linkages study. We worked closely with all parties to ensure that the project will be a success. This is another opportunity for our firm to bolster the economy of a great part of regional NSW.


13 May 2019

Why good regional policy matters and why we care

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For over 30 years, the people at Hanlons Consulting have been involved with a number of projects that are transformative to their local economy. With projects ranging from poultry farms, bridges, housing estates, main roads, railways, bio-digesters, air training academies and freight terminals the Hanlons team are proud of their input. The ever changing landscape nationally has allowed us to drill into the socio-economic data and regional economic development strategies for many projects and communities.

As a firm of country people with a regional focus, the numbers and prose in the many policy and strategy documents resonate in both a good and bad way. They always have good intent but their implementation leaves much to be desired. Good policy can have immediate impact in creating stable jobs and building sustainable communities. As for bad policies, well let’s just say the organisations who develop bad policies get to hear quickly from us that their “grand plan” isn’t as good as first thought.

Our team has been far and wide and when we really start thinking about it, there are few inland country towns where we don’t know someone. Many of their stories are the same but each has their own country twist, from the black soil in the west to the sand in the east.  

Hanlons work is complete when we see our projects contribute a positive effect across our own communities. We have a vested interest in seeing Hanlons projects succeed, as we are part of the end result. Our projects successes affects us personally just as they affect our friends and our families.

27 March 2019

Where and what is Manildra?

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This week our team are based in Manildra a small town in central NSW, to provide a 24 hour survey and support to John Holland Rail. With a population of 464 people, and one of the largest wheat producing areas, Manildra need the experts to ensure their rail is spot on and ready to work.

We are reviewing 1800m of formation reconstruction, ballast and rail  replacement at a spot about 50kms out of Orange NSW. To many the 1800mtrs doesn't sound like a lot, but it is an integral part of a high use rail line.

Hanlons surveyors provide height and position of the topography and line. We also undertake conformance surveys to make sure the track complies with the design and legislation. The design for this project was completed by Hanlons just over 2 years ago!

After the track and ballast is removed, the cutting or embankment formation is reshaped  prior to placing new ballast, new concrete sleepers and heavier rated rail. This will be a project done in collaboration with John Holland.

We like to think Hanlons speaks the language of the rail industry. We plan, design and engineer rail lines and provide a full range of services for the industry. Our project teams include experienced engineers and surveyors. We train our staff to understand the challenges of rail projects, so we can develop solutions focused on improving the operation.



01 March 2019

Hanlon re-brand

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The Hanlon re-brand is featured on page 27 of this month’s edition of The Surveyor. Thanks to the team at KEO for helping us on the journey. 

Hanlons previously known as Mitch Hanlon Consulting based in Tamworth NSW, has an existing National client base and a brand that needed to stay relevant to the changing economic and internal business culture. We have worked hard on our internal processes, and wanted to ensure that these were reflected out into the wider community. 
We have a 15 year history in the regional surveying and engineering industry, we needed to be sympathetic our existing reputation and brand, but move forward into the future.
After a winding process, many conversations and workshops with the experts, it lead to a redefined purpose, refined name, a bold and dynamic identity; with an internal and external message unique to both. 
Hanlons, as a company, are reaching new areas with an adaption to modern day life without loosing our long standing brand history. Our new branding and strategic position allows marketing to penetrate deeper across numerous areas. Whether it be tender writing, presentations or social media, our new brand has become identifiable and easily recognised.
We are excited to move forward into our new future. 

01 December 2018

Bringing like minds together with the Railway Surveying Working Group

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Our very own Mitch Hanlon, Managing Director of Hanlons, has written a very thought provoking article in The Surveyor on page 20 of the December Edition. 

Mitch brings to light the importance of building networks based on knowledge, guidance and government for the future of Railway Surveying and Track Design. Hanlons have joined forces with like-minded surveyors across Australia to form the Railway Surveying Working Group to focus on what lies ahead for the rail industry. 

Have a read, have a think, make a comment. We want to know your thoughts. 



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Mitchel Hanlon Consulting Pty Ltd ABN 51 104 693 736