A strategically positioned Central West

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At the heart of the crossroads where the Transcontinental Railway intersects the Newell Highway and the future Inland Rail, lies the strategically positioned regional centre of Parkes. Integral to the future of transport in Australia as the one place in the country where all logistical routes connect, Parkes National Logistics Hub is an area covering approximately 600ha, central to the Inland Rail, Australia’s key export markets, transport and logistical solutions for freight. 

Parkes is in a prime position to deliver logistical solutions and opportunities that will greatly benefit the Australian economy. Connecting Brisbane and Melbourne via the Newell Highway and eventually the Inland Rail, Sydney and Perth via the Transcontinental Railway and enabling these lines to connect to Darwin from Adelaide makes the Parkes National Logistics Hub the most strategically significant hub in Australia. It is the first point outside of Sydney where double stacking of trains is possible and accessibility for road trains is available. Operating 24/7, over 80% of the Australian population can be reached overnight from Parkes, enabling faster freight time from the centre of the nation’s transport network. 

All major cities in Australia can be accessed from Parkes via road or rail, with Sydney only a 45 minute flight away. While road-train access is available from the west only, all major routes are accessible by b-doubles. Rail connections to all major mainland ports stem from Parkes, creating new opportunities for the agricultural sector and a competitive advantage for Australian export markets with increased efficiencies, timeliness and flexibility set to see a rise in major investment opportunities.

Parkes furthers the connectivity that will be provided by the Inland Rail, extending the north to south connections by enabling freight movement east and west through the connection to the Transcontinental line. CEO of Inland Rail ARTC, Richard Wankmuller said “Parkes is critical to the success of Inland Rail. When Inland Rail’s complete, Parkes will be the natural interchange point for road to rail and rail to road for freight consolidation but also allows the opportunity for rail to rail consolidation because now you've got a national freight grid with common operations between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and all of the regional centres in between.” Parkes will have a critical role in the success of the new freight rail system addressing our greatest disadvantage - distance. 

Hanlons recent expansion into the Central West supports our ongoing presence in the area. Already providing service to keep rail works in the area moving, Hanlons are solving complex problems like in the case of the boundary and detail survey on the Parkes Railway Yard, for the Central West. Our team live and work regionally, understanding the challenges and opportunities present in the regions, showing up and getting the work done to avoid delays and pursue our passion of improving regional infrastructure. Expanding our locations and availability in more regions means we can provide local knowledge, mindsets and experience for these projects. We are excited to be part of the future of Parkes and the Central West and see the ongoing benefits these projects will bring. 

Are you looking for local expertise in the Central West? Hanlons have a guy in the region, so get in touch to keep your project moving without delay!


Federal Budget release for 2021-22

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With the latest Federal Budget release for 2021-22, there continues to be an intense focus on the infrastructure industry with another allocation of funding for our industry. 

The 2021-22 Budget released this week allocated an additional $15.2 billion in new commitments to focussing on infrastructure, roads and rail projects over a 10 year period. 

We touched on the NSW State Budget outcomes in November of last year, and the long term sustainability of pipeline work in our industry. The latest budget has again strengthened our industry and future supporting an additional 30,000 new jobs across Australia. See previous blog

There have been questions about the federal government having the ability to deliver on their promises of the massive Infrastructure Agenda. With the last year focussing on “shovel-ready” projects, this latest budget suggests a difficulty of spending on some of the more complex projects that are taken in partnership with the states and territories. 

With this in mind, this may also be the reason for the push in spending in infrastructure. Longer time frames on the complex, multi state and multi level government projects may explain why the 10 year infrastructure budget has only increased by $10bn. 

Since the last year's Budget release the government has already underspent $1.2bn, with the figures showing that over the past 5 federal budgets that is a total of $4.4bn. 

So what does this all mean for Hanlons, and the Australian Surveying and Engineering industry as a whole? 

Well, once again, we can anticipate that the level of funding will see a boost in the projects available for the foreseeable future. There is also confidence in our industry that has led to an employment boom. 

This does not come without hurdles, with limited trained or experienced Surveyors and Engineers in Australia. With Surveying graduates in high demand, both in the city and country areas, the data shows 95% of students are finding work within four months after graduating. We still need to push for better school based programs to encourage interest in our careers, in turn to assist with the boom in our industry. 

Our industry is growing, moving and learning, with some of the biggest technological advances directly encouraging our advancement and timelines.
Bring on the next 10 years!


Electric Trains, a possibility?

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It is becoming clear that as the automotive industry redirects traditions into electric futures, other industries are being dragged along for the ride. It is obvious that other large carbon based industries are the most scrutinised for electrical upgrades. However there is a reason heavy industries lag behind. 

Large industries such as trains, trucks, planes and earth moving, are progressing slowly in the electrical revolution. The science behind this slow movement is limited capability and development of electric motors. 

Much alike personal vehicles, these industries have traditionally relied on combustion engines and the incredible power they can possess. These engines have become particularly ingrained in these industries due to power ratios and requirements from these machines. 

Two pathways exist for Australian electric trains. The first is the most simple yet unachievable. This would be to install electrical cables above all the railway lines in Australia and use similar trains to those currently in the city. This is simple because the technology exists and the appropriate power can be given to the trains to pull their heavy loads across the continent. However, the infrastructure needed and maintenance would be unachievable. 

The second option is self-contained “electric trains”, much like the self-contained electric cars hitting our roads today. This snag has been reached already in the trucking industry. It has become clear that batteries and stored energy cannot give the required power for high levels of torque. Currently the technology isn’t there. 

A 30 year electrification program has been unveiled in the UK, in a move to decarbonise the country’s railways. New Civil Engineer explored the Trains Fit For the Future report, highlighting the key components of shifting to greener technologies. As electric motor and battery technology increases in power and efficiency, and decreases in size, we can expect many industries to become decarbonised as they move away from their traditional combustion engines.


Freight access in flood-impacted regions

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In the aftermath of the flooding disaster across NSW, the priority is to ensure accessibility, safety and the continuation of business in affected areas. As outlined by Roads & Infrastructure Australia there is increased road access being granted to higher priority vehicles in NSW in order to keep up supply to areas impacted by flood. So why can’t we move freight on the rail network? 

Nationwide, the rail network in Australia is outdated and unable to keep up with Australia’s increasing national freight volume. Deputy Premier John Barilaro said “the flooding has impacted a number of our rail lines and we are working to get them back up and running as soon as possible. In the interim, we are ensuring we can move essential goods by road in safe modern transport vehicles.” But, as surveyors, we are aware that the rail network has been insufficient for sometime, without the impact of flooding, and our road network does not have the required capacity to meet increasing levels of freight.  

As technology increases, new trains are entering the market, stretching our existing rail network. The Inland Rail project, once completed, is expected to more than double the movement of freight by rail in Australia by 2050, reducing reliance on roads and creating opportunities for regional Australia. In addition to freeing up the roads and improving road safety, the Inland Rail will reduce congestion on existing rail on the eastern coast, largely used for transporting passengers. 

In terms of access, the new network will provide an alternative route to travel south of Queensland. This will make the nation's freight network less vulnerable to weather events like the recent floods. With more reliable freight, the economy is set to benefit greatly from faster transit times and better connection.


Progressing the Careers of our Surveyors

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In order to progress their careers, candidate surveyors need to engage in the pathway to registration to become a registered surveyor. Eligibility is determined by enrollment in, or possession of a recognised qualification, combined with practical experience. By undertaking a series of examinations and receiving a competency for each, candidates are eligible to apply for registration. 

Our Graduate Surveyor Lachie Smith was awarded the Harvey Award for the best result in the town planning exam at the NSW Board of Surveying and Spatial Information competency assessments recently. Required to pass five competencies: Civil Engineering design, Town Planning, Strata and Community Titling, Urban Boundary Surveying and Rural Boundary Surveying, Lachie has currently passed three of the five. Once all exams have been passed, he will be issued with a Certificate of Competency, which means Lachie can apply to become a registered land surveyor. 

Lachie was also awarded the equivalent award for Engineering, placing him in the upper level of graduates undertaking competency assessments. Though only issued with a certificate, the workload of these courses is equivalent to that of a masters degree. The marking system is different, requiring candidates to display a full and competent knowledge of the course content. In order to achieve registration, it’s important for candidates to have the support of their supervising surveyor, employer and family. 

The demand for registered surveyors is high, particularly in regional areas. Retirements are taking place faster than replacements are becoming available. The cause is often a lack of career progression for those already in the field. At Hanlons, we are committed to supporting the progression of all our team members, enrolling them in courses that will further qualify them in the industry. 

For graduate surveyors who feel as though they don't have oversight and support from their current employers, Hanlons can offer a full pathway to registration. To progress your career, while gaining valuable experience in a regional surveying firm, contact us to discuss the opportunities we have available.


Closing the gap with formal education

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Is your career on the right track? For engineers and technicians working in the rail sector, multiskilling is essential to the firms they work for to remain relevant to major projects. For many, there is an evident gap in formal training and recognition of skills.

At Hanlons, we recognised this gap as a regional surveying firm, deciding to formally validate our industry knowledge by enrolling our Engineering Consultant, Tim McLean in the Diploma of Engineering Infrastructure (Rail) delivered by the University of Tasmania in conjunction with Engineering Education Australia. 

With several years of railway infrastructure experience, combined with a thorough knowledge of environmental planning and an undergraduate degree in engineering technology, Tim possesses the diverse knowledge required in the industry. The missing link was a qualification to make Tim a registered engineer that would allow Hanlons to obtain Category B Engineering Authority from TfNSW. The flexible learning model allows Tim to remain in Tamworth and continue in his role at Hanlons, while learning more alongside others in the rail industry. 

As regional rail is a strong focus for Hanlons, much of our work involves track survey and design, updating infrastructure to current standards and designing level crossings. With firms in regional NSW so few, having a registered engineer on our team gives us a clear advantage. 

Tim’s experience with the course has been one he greatly appreciates due to the depth of learning and the perspective to see the bigger picture of rail infrastructure. “It’s opened my eyes to just how expansive the industry actually is. For example, being regionally based, we don’t deal with metro issues like electrification and overhead wiring. It’s been really good to understand the complexities that my colleagues deal with.” 

Industries are always evolving, particularly with the introduction of new technologies and an increase in globalisation. For industry professionals, it’s important to keep learning and discover emerging trends that can better the work they do. At Hanlons, we value education and that is evident through our cadet programs and the continuous study undertaken by our employees. We encourage all professionals to diversify their skill sets and explore further study. You can read more about Tim’s experience with the Diploma of Engineering Infrastructure (Rail) here.


Overcoming regional challenges through industry-led models.

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Living and working in regional Australia is not without its challenges, but through industry-led models, in the primary, secondary and service space, we are seeing a shift. With planning underway for University of New England (UNE)’s Tamworth campus, Hanlons Managing Director, Mitchel Hanlon, sat down with Tim Coates and Andrew Mahony to discuss what a university would create for Tamworth on 2TMs News Podcast.

There is an increasing discovery of the strength of regional locations taking place. We are a community of resilient multitaskers with the ability to adapt and adjust to changing situations. Facing an enduring drought, followed by a looming threat of pandemic and now floods, regional Australians are more than familiar with adapting to extremes and finding a way to keep industry and business running as effectively as possible. 

Bringing education to the regions benefits all aspects of communities. It provides a way of retaining, or attracting the youth, and puts locals back into the industry roles that are available, all while creating new ones. When considering a UNE Tamworth campus, there is a wealth of potential to leverage existing infrastructure. With the Australian Equine Livestock and Events Centre (AELEC), the Tamworth Sports Dome and our aviation training facilities, the existing infrastructure we have in our region enables a number of industry education opportunities that benefit local industries. 

A number of our Hanlons staff study via distance education. Our firm’s cadetships foster learning and on the job training, that benefits not only those looking to enter the industry, but also our firm and the wider community. Our Cadet, Harry Mills, explored the Country Experience, highlighting the benefits of open spaces, friendly and supportive teams, and the importance of community in country organisations. By facilitating on campus study in regional centres like Tamworth, a wider group of professionals can access education that qualifies them for industry roles within our local communities.


What does fast tracking mean for regional projects?

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After the announcement of the NSW State Budget last year, the $3 billion Jobs and Infrastructure Acceleration Fund will fast track projects across the state. By fast tracking environmental legislation, the Federal and State Governments hope to aid the economic recovery of the State.

The creation of jobs and the guaranteed movement within the construction industry are the motivating factors for the fund, but what does this mean for regional projects?

Delivering jobs today and benefits tomorrow - that’s the promise of the fund and one that will have a positive impact on Regional Australia. To be eligible for fast tracking, projects must demonstrate an ability to create jobs during and after the completion of construction. Boosting employment was, and remains, critical during the pandemic. Injecting substantial figures into health, education, and transport right across regional NSW, is critical to the economic recovery of the regions in which we live and work. 

Fast tracking has more than halved approval times for projects, ensuring the same stringent checks, balances and community consultation occurs. With approval for projects like the Inland Rail, the fund has provided regional businesses with consistent work throughout both the drought and the pandemic, with benefits having an on flow effect into accommodation providers and hospitality services in the areas work is being undertaken. 

The Fixing Local Roads Program is another shovel ready project being addressed in NSW as a result of the fund. Improving safety and network reliability, the program will see pavement rehabilitation, seal extensions, resurfacing and routine maintenance for NSW roads. This work will provide the regional road network with some much needed urgent attention. 

Fast tracking environmental legislation is a major benefit for regional projects. More often than not, projects of all scales are delayed by the approval process, dragging out the positive impact they are set to make to the economy and local communities. Fast tracking will see regional areas reap the economical benefits of these projects sooner than initially planned for. 

The Country Experience

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The experience of working in the country is often taken for granted by those who live it. Working life in the country consists of open spaces, friendly and supportive teams, and a help out attitude.

Due to the plethora of work opportunities and variety of working environments, you can find yourself dancing between mountain tops, open plains or bushland to name a few. 

The office environment in a country town also has its perks. The small team becomes a type of family where they work together to complete projects as one. The community forms a large part of a country organisation, as mutual friends and colleagues are common, and connections to certain sites or businesses play a crucial role in project success. 

Working in a rural setting broadens communication skill sets and provides an opportunity to develop experience on highly unique projects that differ greatly from an urban setting. With such a variety of work and the unique community experience it is understandable why a “tree change” is becoming so popular. So when in the country, look away from your desk and take in the wide spaces and fresh air because we love it. 


Protecting biodiversity in the rail corridor

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One of the many struggles when starting a new project, particularly those that spread across a vast area, is measuring the biodiversity of the area. Protecting biodiversity hotspots is an important consideration in new developments, and new technologies are lending a helping hand. 

Large scale projects like the Inland Rail have an ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. Looking to go beyond impact minimisation, Inland Rail seeks to create opportunities for habitat restoration, and where impacts to biodiversity cannot be avoided, offset such impacts. With the help of vegetation mapping, based on a field survey and analysis of aerial photographs, planning for restoration and the reestablishment of native vegetation can be conducted effectively.

Across the seas in Britain, the Network Rail project has taken up satellite imagery as a significant tool for the execution of their sustainable vegetation management plan. In partnership with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Network Rail follows a detailed habitat map that covers all areas of the rail project. With this information, it is possible to predict what animals and plants may be present in the area. 

New technology is increasingly important in ensuring the sustainability of the rail industry, helping with the management of habitat, and ongoing monitoring of ecological trends. Breakthroughs like habitat mapping from satellite imagery are helping to minimise the impact on the natural environment. 

As work continues in the surveying industry, and technology continues its rapid evolution, there will be huge growth opportunities for the industry to better its practices and improve overall accuracy. In terms of rail projects, the ability to protect biodiversity through the use of technologies creates an opportunity for greener travel and freight.


When do you need a land surveyor?

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The importance of design and construction in the building process is widely understood. Surveying is however, just as important but so often overlooked in residential builds. So when do you need a land surveyor?

You want to put up a fence
Erecting a fence on your property isn’t as simple as you may think. Boundary disputes with neighbours are one thing to avoid at all costs, and with fences frequently placed in the wrong spot, awareness of the need for a surveyor is important. The only way to ensure boundaries are where you think they are is to engage a licensed surveyor to conduct a title re establishment. The surveyor will use a combination of the latest technologies and thorough knowledge of regulations to ensure your investment in a new fence all goes to plan. 

You want to extend your home
The sentimental value of a family home stops many from buying or building a bigger residence that suits their family’s needs. The alternative - extending the existing structure. Home extension requires a residential identification survey for the analysis of boundaries, existing structures, and terrain. The survey is important for the designer and builder to ensure the extension can be made both safely and legally. 

You’re looking to subdivide
A surveyor should be your first contact when considering a subdivision. If they don’t already know the opportunities and restraints to subdividing your land, they are sure to know how to determine them. There are many considerations when subdividing including; topography, size, traffic flow etc. Survey results can be compiled into the submission for the application to your local council providing you with assurance that the application is accurate and hassle free. 

Surveyors do more than just measure space - we navigate all aspects of land ownership. Surveying is vital to the success of your residential projects that involve significant land decisions. Be sure to do it right the first time and reach out to Hanlons at the start of your next project.


A Renewable Future

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In the modern day of 2020, it is becoming clear that the public perception of the environment is becoming increasingly positive and stronger. The environment and its protection is generating a major commitment to ensuring a greener future. 

Countries worldwide are beginning to feature renewable energies. Technologies in the energy space, such as solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal and biomass, are no longer conversations or plans, they are being implemented and rolled out into the real world. 

Counties such as Iceland, Nicaragua, Scotland, Uruguay and Costa Rica are on their way to achieving 100% renewable energy powered. This shows that smaller countries are turning to green, renewable energy, proving that not only big players can change the world. 

The wave is growing and so is financial backing. The financial power house of China accounted for 45% of global renewable investment in 2017, showing a keen interest in the technologies and their bright future. 

Hanlons is passionate about renewables and their future potential. Global populations are growing and so is demand for energy, if the world can transfer to renewable energy sources, the earth may have its life prolonged and its ability to sustain human life extended. 

Hanlons stays close to renewable projects, news and developments, having worked on projects such as the proposed “Newtricity '' Woolbrook Wind Farm in country NSW. Although this project has not yet been constructed, other projects shaping renewable energy in rural NSW include the Moree Solar Farm, Inverell Sapphire Wind Farm, and proposed Nundle Windfarm. The Hanlons team are excited to be part of the evolution of a renewable future.

Hanlons Environmental Compliance

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Environmental compliance is a major player in project success. Compliance to State and Federal law is becoming the defining factor of the planning, construction and operational phases for projects. 

The inability to consider environmental compliance can have catastrophic impacts on the success of any project. Environmental compliance is incredibly important due to its ability to affect the financial validity, legacy image, approval process and ultimate project success. Environmental compliance can halt construction, stop operation and delay grant approvals. Without compliance, projects are unable to succeed. 

The Hanlons environmental team possess extensive experience in environmental legislation and can ensure individual projects are deemed environmentally compliant. Hanlons Consulting have conducted contaminated land assessment, operational environmental compliance, environmental impact assessment and other environmental reports.

This is a broad and diverse skill set that allows the Hanlons environmental team to successfully assist any project with environmental issues, aspects and compliance.

The Drone Revolution

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Drone technology has exploded within the last 5-10 years. With this has come industry changing technology that is revolutionising specific sectors. These primary target sectors have been identified as surveying, agriculture, mining, construction and emergency services.

As the technology becomes more robust, powerful and accurate, the uses for this flying unmanned technology grows exponentially. Aerial mapping is the primary function of today’s drones, using an array of different sensors. Industries are now using LiDAR, Infra-red, thermal and multispectral sensors for mission specific objectives to collect relevant data to ensure project success. 

With data comes accuracy, and if a drone is able to relay and record its precise position, the uses for search and rescue, survey and reconnaissance, become increasingly relevant. The precise art of survey has challenged drone positioning to gain accuracy that is acceptable within the profession. The emerging survey drones are capable of 20mm positioning accuracy. This is the beginning of a lengthy service in the surveying industry. As drone technology matures, accuracy, power and cost will be shaped to industry needs and become a major player in the modern industrial revolution.

Contaminated Land

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Contaminated land can occur when a site has been involved with potentially hazardous substances and these materials and chemicals have not been managed effectively. Almost any site has the potential to become a contaminated site based on its historic use. 

Common contaminated land issues include;

  • Agricultural contamination - sheep dips, farm tips, pesticides, herbicides, and farming chemicals.

  • Industry contamination (power plants, railways, industrial areas and refineries) - ash, coal, and heavy metals. 

  • Mining contamination - heavy metals, metal ores, and petroleum. 

  • Other sources of land contamination - asbestos, petroleum, diesel spills and firefighting foam. 

Contaminates differ in chemistry and how they interact with the environment around them.

Hanlons Consulting have experience in a wide variety of contaminants, writing all levels of contamination reports and remediating sites of contamination to allow development to take place.


The Future is Plannable - Recap of NSW State Budget 2020-21

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There are very few industries worldwide that have a pipeline of government sponsored work coming out of a global pandemic. Our Engineering and Surveying industry is one of the lucky ones, but with luck comes a lot of hard work. 

With the 2020-21 Budget announced last Tuesday the 17th November 2020, the NSW government has committed to a continued investment in an infrastructure program that builds a better NSW. The announcement of the record infrastructure pipeline of $107.1 billion, ensures the delivery of projects across the State, including vital infrastructure in Health, Education and Transport. 

The record $107.1 billion pipeline is estimated to generate 145,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, each year. This transformational pipeline of infrastructure projects, both planned and already underway, will boost consumer confidence, putting NSW in a strong position to respond to the economic crisis.

Underpinning this stimulus is the $3 billion Jobs and Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, which will support 20,000 jobs and deliver new and fast-tracked projects across the State. The plan is to cut the red tape, encouraging movement of projects across the state. 

At Hanlons we are advertising for 3 new positions to keep our pipeline moving in anticipation of the Government initiatives. One of those positions is for a Trainee Civil Engineer Surveyor who could be currently studying at University. When thinking about the future of our industry, it has become evident that there is no better time to start a career in Surveying and Engineering then now. 

We can deduce that the funds and projects are available for the foreseeable future. Even during a pandemic, our industry is growing, moving and learning, with some of the biggest technological advances directly encouraging our advancement and timelines. 

Even without the Government Pipeline A Life Without Limits indicates that surveying graduates are in high demand in Australia, both in the city and country areas, working for private practice or for government bodies. This means the jobs are plentiful, reflected in the 95% of students finding work within four months after graduating.

With a flood of funding flowing into our industry, mixed with a severe shortage of skills, Surveying graduates are best positioned to find employment. As a Trainee Civil Surveying Engineer, you will guide the growth of the town or city you choose to live and work in. You may see new types of trains connecting people like never before, or help transition from petrol to electric vehicles. Now is the time to take every opportunity to gain employment in the field and pursue your ambitions.

Check out our Positions Vacant

The Future of 3D Printing in Engineering

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Over the last five years, 3D printing technology has produced numerous incredible structures all over the world, including 3D printed houses, cabins, offices, bridges, pavilions, large-scale structures and shelters.

The craft has truly begun to capture the imagination of the masses, as low cost printers begin to make it possible for aspiring designers to create objects designed in CAD software right on their desks. 3D printing is also triggering a change in the way both small businesses and industry giants build and design their products. In education, 3D printing is now a focus in today’s engineering degrees, by studying a modern Civil Engineering degree you will learn how engineers approach industrial problems and how 3D printing can improve upon existing solutions.

So what changes and developments can we expect 3D printing to bring to structural engineering over the next 15 years?

We decided to write this blog as plans have been released for a new 3D-printed structural concrete footbridge, set to be developed in Plaine Commune Grand Paris. The footbridge is part of the development in anticipation of the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in Paris, France by a consortium of developers, designers and engineers. The main architect is Lavigne and Cheron, who are masters in 3D Printing. This 40 meter pedestrian footbridge will have a deck that will be entirely made up of 3D printed structural concrete. 

This structural feat will have a long term effect on the engineering industry worldwide, pushing the technology further into the spotlight as it becomes cheaper and faster to create engineering masterpieces. 3D printing allows building designers to experiment with shapes and geometries in design that may not be financially viable with existing building techniques.

3D printing encourages freedom of design, alongside the reduction of materials and waste, leading to lower cost ratios, and a target of 60% reduction in concrete consumption for most projects. There is the ability to create free form and organic shapes that will disrupt traditional engineering and start a new design revolution. By using unconventional materials that are readily available closer to sites has also allowed an interesting development and design trend to occur. 

Hanlons do not have a 3D printer, nor do we need one, but we do need to understand the technology behind them. We need to understand how they affect the work that we do with the flexibility, forms and unusual materials that may be used in future projects.  

There have been some amazing 3D printing projects completed around the world, including:
An 8 metre square cabin, built in 2015 in Amsterdam by DUS Architects, designed as a tiny 3D printed house focusing on compact and sustainable housing solutions with the potential of providing disaster relief and temporary housing quickly in crisis. 

The new expansion of the Lewis Grand Hotel in the Philippines which includes bedrooms, living rooms and a jacuzzi room made from a combination of sand and volcanic ash. 

And lastly the Yonova House in France that only took 54 hours to print a 95 square meter house. 

As 3D printing is poised to have a massive impact upon architecture, building design and manufacturing, for us at Hanlons, it will have a huge impact on our roles as engineers and surveyors.


The importance of accurate measurements

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When designing a construction site, surveying is one of the more important parts of the whole process. 

Our surveyors are the first step of the puzzle before our engineers can begin on any project. For our engineers to know the existing topography, or geographical features of the land when planning the design of a building, roadway or railway, we need to survey first.

Engineers often develop a conceptual plan that’s practical for the site based on the survey results. One important factor is to balance “the cut and fill”, or determine the amount of dirt that needs to be added or removed. This information minimises the need to bring dirt in or take it off the site. If dirt has to be hauled away from or onto the site it can become costly to developers, public, private or individual clients.

Surveyors usually provide our engineers with the survey and in most cases a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) file. This shows the contours of the land and other features that might affect the long term design. By telling how steep the slopes are and where the dips or drainage areas are our engineers can correctly design solutions and properly complete the work.

When it comes to surveying and measuring vertical and horizontal distances the technology has advanced. Laser scanning and Drones are some of the latest technology used and are less laborious than some of the older methods. Hanlons surveyors are equipped with GPS which isn’t quite as accurate as traditional surveying methods, and in some cases it can’t be used. Hanlons can combine both traditional and contemporary methods by using both the GPS and surveying instrument depending on the location of the project and the accuracy required for that project.

The importance of accuracy needed on different projects depends on what type of survey you’re doing. For some projects the state has standards our surveyors must meet. 

If it’s in a rural setting where you’re out surveying someone’s farm for instance, the standards are not as important as if you were doing a survey in downtown Tamworth for a new subdivision. 

Accuracy is extremely important when it comes to surveying and engineering and there are an abundance of factors that can affect the measurements being exactly right. One mistake and you can throw off the design plans pretty quickly. And our surveyors hate upsetting our engineers…. Don't they Lachlan?



The role of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) at Hanlons

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We are always upskilling or keeping abreast of the latest technology in the industry, or keeping up with advancements of the existing tech too. We know that GPS technology isn't new and has been around since 1973, but what we need to know is how it is changing the landscape of surveying. 

Initially developed for military use, GPS is now part of everyday life. Let us mention the usual car navigation systems or mobile technology, but also the search and rescue equipment and since the 1990s, surveying.

We have been rapidly adapting GPS for a number of different applications. GPS can give longitude, latitude and height without the need for conventional surveying tools and instruments. It can make our surveyors cars less cluttered and our muscles less bulky from carrying equipment (but that doesn't stop us from going to the gym). We believe that the speed and accuracy of GPS surveying has gone beyond any other invention of previous tools or measuring systems.

There are three methods of GPS measurement that are utilised by our surveyors.

  • Static GPS Baseline: determines accurate coordinates for survey points

  • Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Observations: One stationary receiver and one roving receiver allowing radio links for coordinate corrections. 

  • Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS): survey quality GPS receiver is permanently installed in a location as a starting point for any GPS measurements

Most of the surveying methods produce more than the minimum number of observations needed to calculate positions or heights for most projects. So it is possible for a position or height to be calculated by several paths through the network of observations and get slightly different results because of the uncertainties in surveying. 

We only use the best, and part of that is Leica Geosystems, distributed by C.R.Kennedy, Survey Solutions. Thousands of engineers rely on their diverse visualising, positioning and guiding solutions every day delivering unmatched precision and performance. Hanlons is no different. Reliable systems designed to stand up to the harsh environments that our surveyors and engineers endure. 

Hanlons love being outdoors but we no longer need to climb to the highest points of a project landscape or measure short distances at a time due to obstacles like trees or hills. All we need is a clear view of the sky. 


Celebrating 15 years at Hanlons Consulting.

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Celebrating Tim’s 15th anniversary at Hanlons this month, there is no better opportunity then to “level up”. 

We googled the best way to celebrate a 15th anniversary, with the finest suggestion being “give them the day off”, well sorry Tim, we are too busy for that! So we chose the second suggestion, a Thank You (and maybe a cake, but that is yet to be decided).

Tim has been a vital part of our business for the past 15 years, starting as an engineering surveyor and now our Operations Manager, Tim motivates and encourages our staff, he supports our clients, and has a thorough understanding of our industry.

Not only is Tim an essential part of our team, he is an upstanding member of our Tamworth community. Never doing anything by halves, Tim is the past president of Collegians Junior Rugby League Club, Tamworth District Minor League Club, and past Jnr Vice President, Group 4 Jnr Rugby League.  Over the years he still found time to play for the Kootingal Rugby League Club, from which he has now retired a hero. When he is not working or doing his bit for the community, he is chasing after his three active boys.

Having Tim on our team for 15 years has allowed us to level up and become a driving force in a multi-disciplinary Engineering Surveying firm in Regional NSW.  

It's our birthday, and we will blog if we want to!

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We thought if we kept quiet, no one would know, but now we have hit our 17th birthday it's time to shout out from the rooftops. 

Seventeen years is not a short amount of time in our industry. With technology advancements and changes to regulations, restrictions and practices, Hanlons are proud to have made it this far. 

Over the past 17 years we have learnt a lot about business, people and our practice within the engineering and surveying industries. 


Lets get sappy and reflect on what we have learnt. 

Investing in your own business is crucial. Running your own business is a learning curve, and we have learnt investing, not only in the technology, programs and software, but in the right people, is critical. The success of Hanlons is due to the hard work of our people. We are the ones that stand up, stand out and get things done. We invest in trainee and mentoring programs, and support our staff to further their skills in the industry. This investment has allowed us to move into the future of surveying and engineering in Australia. 

Being Genuine, Being Valuable. Everybody hates a fake smile. In regional Australia, genuine transparency is the only way forward. There is nothing worse than bad advice in our industry. It can be both costly and deadly. If our team doesn't know the answer, they will tell you straight up, then they will go and find it. Hanlons take pride in our values and being genuine, that's what makes us priceless.

Almost everything is simple, but almost nothing is easy. The surveying and engineering industry is full of processes, giving a clear road map on how things “should” be. However there are many ways to complete one job, and there are always multiple jobs in each project. There are times where we all want to do it the simpler way, but we now know to ask “is it the best” because it probably won't be the easiest. 

Our goal for the next 17 years is to remain an industry leader in all areas. The changing landscape (literally) of our industry allows us to better ourselves every year as a team.

The Subtle Art of Successful Subdivision

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A vast expanse of potential. That’s what the team at Hanlons see when a client takes them on a site inspection for a subdivision. The decision to subdivide land can be made for a number of reasons, but doing it well to maximise returns and be sympathetic to the existing environment requires skill and local knowledge, areas where Hanlons excels. 

Many would-be developers often fall over because they haven’t got the right advice from the start of the project. Finance, approvals and engaging builders and contractors all rely on having a solid foundation to work from to ensure the project’s viability. Any corner cut by Surveyors and Engineers will come back to haunt the team later in the project - a bad outcome for all involved. Setting a realistic budget, consulting with all stakeholders for project timelines and strong communication are essential to a successful subdivision. 

So what are you actually paying a consulting firm to do? A lot.

When planning a subdivision, Hanlons have an exhaustive list of tasks to ensure a successful outcome for our clients, including: assess the site; review market demand for the preferred lot type; develop and cost lot layout concepts; review Council policies and guidelines; obtain planning consent; prepare construction documents; issue invitations to tender to build the roads, drainage, water supply and sewer mains; supervise construction; obtain Council approval to the finished works; and finally, prepare, lodge and obtain registration of the subdivision plan at Land Registry Services so new titles can be issued. 

As you can see - this is where a multi-disciplinary firm such as Hanlons is an advantage, able to handle all aspects of the planning process under one roof. 

Planning a subdivision is a complex process, but having the right people in your team will make the process less stressful.

At Hanlons, we walk side-by-side with our clients, guiding them through the process and providing them with honest and reliable advice to get the job done right.

So why is railway surveying so important?

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Australia’s national freight volume is increasing and the outdated rail network just can't cope.

For the trains to become longer and bigger to deal with this increased volume, existing track alignment needs to be rebuilt or new tracks need to be opened. In addition to this, the fourth industrial revolution that is upon us, which is that of big data, automation, and new materials, are bringing new trains into use that will stretch our existing rail network.

The impact of this outdated rail network is stagnant productivity. The National Freight and Supply Chains strategy has shown that freight costs have not reduced since the reforms of the 1990s. The strategy identified that Australia needs improved efficiency and international competitiveness; safe, secure and sustainable operations; a fit for purpose regulatory environment; innovative solutions to meet freight demand; a skilled and adaptable workforce; and an informed understanding and acceptance of freight operations. Once the Inland Rail is completed, the percentage of freight by rail will more than double  from 26% to 62% by 2049-2050. Which is lucky, as there is not enough road capacity to move the expected freight growth, making rail the only solution. 

Nationally, there is a new standard called AS 7364 Railway Infrastructure - Survey. It is an attempt to standardise the approach to developing the survey infrastructure and approach to providing rail surveying support during construction and operation. The aim is to provide an element of assurance that a railway network can operate in a safe manner. It provides mandatory and recommended guidance so the developed rail survey system is aligned with the safe operation of the railway network, in accordance with the requirements of Rail Safety National Law.

One of the key recommendations is the use of a geospatial reference grid system. With the available technology, there is no reason why a rail project should not be on a national or state grid system. Whilst engineers do not like scale factors, assets with coordinates can be better managed in a spatial management system under the life cycle plan. Moreover, train automation is coming (if not here) and the alignment and signal system must sit within a digital database and management system if the automated train is to properly function.

Survey is part of the asset life cycle of a railway. Surveyors collect the raw data, ensure the spatial model of the design is correct, provides oversight in the construction phase, checks build compliance and provides a final spatial model. Ongoing track monitoring may also be required. Due to the intimate nature of the process, many surveyors go onto become track designers. Here at  Hanlons, we train our surveying graduates to be track designers and work in conjunction with the other allied engineering disciplines to provide a final design product, one we've often had to provide surveying oversight during construction.

However, railway surveying is a small part of the surveying profession. Many of the government trained surveyors are close to retirement and no training program exists like the government cadet systems. The surveying profession has to develop its own training and mentoring program otherwise there will be projects that are delayed or poorly delivered.

Fortunately, Consulting Surveyors National and Hanlons have come together and developed a training program that covers all aspects of track design: terminology, track geometry, speed calculations, structure gauge, transit space and kinematic envelopes, level crossing assessment, turnouts and catch-points, control surveys, boundaries, transom bridge design, safety in design, and environmental assessment. It is early days yet but it is hoped that this body of knowledge can be passed onto the next generation so Australia has the opportunity to reach its full potential.

Your Project, Our Passion

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A one-stop shop for your next infrastructure project may seem like you are getting a jack-of-all-trades, master of none type business. But Hanlons is different - our staff are experts in their fields, and working together under one office means we can ensure our clients get high quality results with no stone left unturned

One of the things our clients love about us is that we work hard, and get dirty. Let’s take a look at why our approach has given us such a strong reputation in the industry, and why Hanlons should be your next project manager. 

   1. On Budget, and On Time

We know the importance of having a project delivered on budget and on-time. At the end of the day, we have our own projects too and know the frustrations that come with project delays and the financial ramifications. From building a house or implementing a new software system, to complex, multi-million dollar infrastructure projects - the same core principles should apply. Get it done, and get it done right the first time.    

   2. Get the right people

If we don’t know, find someone who does. If something does fall outside our area of expertise, we won’t just “fake it ‘til we make it”. We have a list of preferred subcontractors which are constantly being audited and assessed to ensure we get the right information to avoid delays in your project. 

   3. We know this land

We are country folks with big city qualifications, and we embed ourselves in the areas where we work. Our offices may be in Tamworth, NSW but our vehicles and staff are recognisable across rail networks and properties all over NSW and southern QLD. By working with locals we can find out the best solution for your infrastructure or development project, and build on these relationships for the future of your project. 

Want to know more? Contact our office to learn more about why Hanlons continues to be the preferred choice for rail and infrastructure projects across the state. 


The Importance of Training & Continual Development

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At Hanlons, our people are always studying. It’s just a fact. 

Our cadet programs see employees complete their degree from distance education while gaining on the job experience, Graduate Surveyors need to complete post-graduate competency exams, and our fully qualified staff are regularly undertaking specialised study in a field of their interest.  

This thirst for knowledge and continual improvement lay the cornerstone of our professional training program which we incorporated into our HR system. But we felt it was important that people weren’t just learning because they had to, but because they were engaged and interested in the topics. 

We have seen a number of benefits from our training program, and in particular a knowledge transfer between generations within our staff. Our older employees are able to impart their experience and lessons learned to younger staff, while tech-savvy younger staff are able to help keep the team up-to-date with technology and compliance. As more and more systems move online we have found it extremely valuable to have already opened up these channels of communication. 

Another foundation of our continual development at “lessons learned” sessions, where the team openly discusses the successes and failings of recent projects, and what we can learn from them for the future. This honest and constructive feedback and exchange of ideas is facilitated either in-house or by an external provider, and is proving to be beneficial to our commitment to excellence as a business .

It's all about the "one percenters", those who are conscious that it’s the little things we do everyday which lead to big actions. If we at Hanlons can turn that one percent into five or even more, we are helping create a workforce that benefits clients. Even more importantly - we are empowering our staff with the knowledge they are gaining new skills and helping deliver high quality outcomes to their community, and that’s something worth investing time in. 

Why Surveying and Construction are Essential Services

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The Covid-19 crisis has seen countries around the world implement tough lockdown measures, with only essential services running for many communities. As the restrictions in Australia strengthen, there have been many questions about what is essential, and why are some industries able to continue operating as usual, albeit at 1.5m apart. So why should surveyors and engineers be able to visit job sites still? And why is the construction industry considered essential at this time? 

Site visits allow works to progress at all stages of a project, from the initial planning to the final handovers. Whether it’s a major infrastructure project or a property subdivision, having a pipeline of projects ready to go is essential to improving morale and providing important economic uplift. 

Surveyors and engineers are crucial in ensuring transport infrastructure is maintained (how else are we going to keep getting toilet paper delivered to our supermarkets if our roads fail?). Rail lines and roads need to be looked after to ensure country-to-city grain and coal deliveries can occur and food supply lines remain open. Working on site with maintenance operational crews ensures the right maintenance option is being selected, to avoid further damage down the track as the result of a quick fix which doesn’t last. 

While it doesn’t feel like it now - this isn’t going to last forever, and the economy is going to need a restart once we get through the pandemic. The construction sector and infrastructure projects are a great way to distribute wealth through communities, particularly in regional Australia. In remote areas, workers stay in hotels, buy supplies and food locally and often contractors take on local employees. In larger centres, firms are generally available  to do the project work, but a good firm knows that nothing beats a local business doing local projects. Larger, national firms normally employ a local surveyor who would know the site and have an emotional commitment to seeing the works done well. 

It’s inevitable that Federal and State Governments will roll out a number of infrastructure projects to help the recovery efforts, but it’s essential that private projects also tick along during this time. While the country looks at lockdown, there are many private projects with funding already allocated to planning and design, and surveyors and engineers can get these projects to the next stage of an approvals process while things are quiet so construction can commence at the earliest opportunity. Sometimes the change from the ordinary can lead to new ideas or concepts, and the idea for a project or new development may strike when looking at a tree in the garden. Talk to a surveyor to bounce ideas to see if the project has legs, you’d be surprised at their depth of knowledge regarding the whole process! 

In conclusion, allowing access to sites (while adhering to social distancing measures and government guidelines) ensures economic activity can restart quickly when the pandemic passes, while also keeping vital transport infrastructure networks operational. Our team may not be in the office but we are still working, talk to the team today if you have any questions regarding your project and our new arrangements. 

Planning ahead - Where to start again after Natural Disaster

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Australia wasn’t even two months into 2020 when many regions had experienced not just bushfires, but flood and storm damage too and now we have moved onto self distancing and isolation because if COVID 19. 

When people consider natural disasters, they often consider the physical damage and clean-up relief efforts, or the emotional toll the loss of a home can have on people. But many don’t consider that once the clean-up is finished the land can often be permanently altered, for example a new gully or a change in physical property boundaries with a landslide. This is where surveyors and environmental engineers provide assistance in rebuilding communities. 

Land surveyors can assess, confirm, or if needed remap property boundaries to ensure fair distribution of land in conjunction with existing land records. Because of the change in landscape this requires careful and sophisticated measuring techniques, including angle measurement, position determination, reference networks and datums. The introduction of drone technology into this process, especially for coastal surveying after storms, has delivered a huge advancement in this area. 

Environmental engineers can prepare and undertake a wide variety of assessments including contaminated site, bushfire, hydrology and planning studies to help regulatory bodies, builders and/or landowners determine the most appropriate steps that need to be taken to ensure the new development meets planning and environmental regulations.

Natural disasters are unavoidable, but careful planning and seeking the right advice in the design stages of your project (from large infrastructure to residential developments) can hopefully minimise the damage caused to your assets. It’s in this planning that the value of a multi-disciplined consultancy such as Hanlons is best demonstrated, with one-team able to handle all facets of a project to ensure all bases are covered.

Surveying the Team

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At Hanlons we talk at length about the range professional services we provide and the talented team we have delivering them. From surveyors, engineers and rail designers to environmental engineers and drafting officers – our staff have extensive regional experience to ensure our customers get the most from us.

But what do all these titles mean? In this months blog we are going to explain these roles and how we all work together.

Registered Surveyor – Surveying is the measurement and mapping of our surrounding environment, essentially they are experts in determining land size and measurement. A registered surveyor will be out in the field making calculations using specialist equipment, including geodimeters, Robotic Total Stations (theodolites), aerial scanners, high order GPS and more. Once this raw data has been collected, the surveyor then can draft plans and determine boundaries which can be used by engineers, developers, architects, designers and more. To become a registered surveyor you need to show competence in engineering, planning and all laws relating to the subdivision of land and licensed by The Board of Surveying and Spatial Information.

Engineering Surveyor- Engineering surveyors are heavily involved in major construction projects such as railways, bridges, roads etc. They will analyse initial drawings and identify any issues (for example will the terrain allow for the design as it currently stands? And how will you get equipment into a small space for a rail bridge?) and work with the engineers and designers to ensure construction will run smoothly once it commences. Teamwork and communication with site supervisors and contractors are all part of the engineering surveyors job, at Hanlons we specialise in significant infrastructure projects which require highly skilled and experienced engineering surveyors.

Environmental Engineer -  Environmental engineers are concerned with the impact on the natural world by engineering activities, so how will the project affect the environment that it’s being built on and how can we overcome any potential problems. Environmental engineers can also prepare a number of reports and assessments for large infrastructure projects to agricultural industries. 

Technical Officer - A technical officer collects, analyses data and develops plans for land Surveyors to provide the basic information required for a surveying project. This includes preparing detail surveys, engineering design for subdivisions, tender and contract management and project management. 

Rail Designer - A rail designer oversees the design, supervision and management  of railway projects. This can cover track design, signal design overhead electrical design and civil works around the tracks. 

Drafting Officer –  A drafting officer uses software to convert designs by a surveyor or engineer into technical drawings and plans. These plans are created using CAD software,and can be two or three-dimensional.  

Survey field assistant - Survey assistants help surveyors undertake projects on site, helping to maintain and use surveying equipment, assist in taking and recording measurements and pegging boundaries. 

Now that you know what they do, learn more about our team here. 




Thoughts on zoning

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If our homes are our castles, we should be able to do pretty much anything we want there, right? Well, not exactly. There are these things zoning codes and regulations that can influence our rights by restricting them. 

This may be so even if we are just moving dirt around on our lots. What if we want to do some landscaping? How about our own renovations or an extra flat on site?

The legal framework for land use zoning in Australia is established by States and Territories, hence each State or Territory has different zoning rules. Land use zones are generally defined at local government level, and most often called Planning Schemes.

While it’s the state’s responsibility to create the zoning laws, it’s up to local councils to interpret and apply them in the local context. If you’re a developer, your success hinges on a good working relationship with these powers that be.

Major zoning categories include commercial, industrial, mixed-use, residential, agricultural and public use. From there, more specific codes can apply as well as "overlays" relating to heritage, flood mitigation and bushfire requirements.  

Zoning will affect what changes to the property are allowed, how and when. It could also impact future values in both negative and positive ways. 

Hanlons are skilled in Surveying and Land information which goes hand in hand with zoning requirements for Land Subdivisions, Community Development work and Council surveys at a local government level. Contracting to many public, private and individual clients, our particular speciality is project surveying for major infrastructure projects such as railway, roads, commercial and public buildings, bridges and subdivisions.

Mitchel Hanlon announced as speaker at ARA Light Rail 2020

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We are thrilled to announce our Managing Director Mitchel Hanlon has been invited to speak at the Informa Australia and ARA Light Rail 2020 Conference, to be held in March.

Mitchel will be presenting with Michelle Blicavs, CEO of Consulting Surveyors National about Asset Life Cycle Management, with a focus on the Newcastle Light Rail. 

Mitchel and Michelle will be the first surveyors to speak at the conference, which brings together operators, manufacturers, contractors and industry and government stakeholders across the Light Rail sector in Australasia.  

Light rail investment is currently at record levels, with networks recently opening in Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra. We look forward to being part of the future shaping of these networks as Light Rail continues to grow in popularity. 

Hanlons Surveyor wins Augustus Alt Prize

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Congratulations to Hanlons Graduate Surveyor Lachlan Smith who last Friday was awarded the Augustus Alt Prize by the NSW Board of Surveying and Spatial Information.

Lachlan receiving his Augustus Alt Prize from NSW Surveyor General Narelle Underwood

The prize was presented by NSW Surveyor General Narelle Underwood in a ceremony at Parliament House Sydney, alongside the Association of Consulting Surveyors NSW President Michael Lamont.

"Lachlan is a Dungowan local who has shown the value of fostering regional talent. Coming through Hanlons’ cadet program and obtaining his degree by distance education, he has shown that with hard work and the right attitude you can achieve anything," said Managing Director Mitchel Hanlon.

"As a mentor I am very proud of what he has achieved."

The Augustus Alt Prize is awarded for the best result in an Engineering project for the Board of Surveying and Spatial Information's assessments. The project involved the engineering design of a housing estate, including roads, sewerage, drainage, water mains, and construction management.

"People often think of surveying as just relating to property boundaries, but really surveyors are integral to the town planning and civil engineering functions of a community. Working in a regional area Lachlan has had exposure to a variety of projects which has been extremely beneficial to his professional development, as proven by this prize," said Mr Hanlon.

The Hanlons cadetship programmes are now open! If you are interested in a career in surveying or are currently studying a Surveying/Engineering degree you can learn more on our Careers page. 

Demand for Surveyors Continues to Grow

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Whenever we’re at a BBQ or social gathering, one of the first questions we’re asked is “How is work going?”, and the answer for us always seems to be “Flat out!”.

A report out earlier this year from BIS Oxford Economics can shed some light on the matter of why we are always so busy. The report highlighted there is a current shortage of surveyors in Australia, with only 8,172 surveying professionals filling the demand of 9,125 positions. Of the positions that are vacant, 297 are for registered surveyors! 

The Australian Government has given the profession of Surveyor a labour market rating of  “shortage”, with only 33% of vacancies filled in the 2019 survey. While steps have been taken to encourage more school leavers to enter the industry, strong economic building data and forecasts highlight the shortfall of surveyors isn’t going anywhere over the next ten years.

Surveyors are needed for a lot of construction work. They obtain approvals, design the work, manage contracts, make sure the build is in the right place as well as complying with the design specification. Significant skill in project management is needed to juggle these needs.

What does all this mean? If you’re interested in becoming a Surveyor, the time to act is now! According to the Good Education Group 78% of graduates were employed straight out of university – the third highest rate in the country.

But there is a reason for the shortage - and particularly in regional NSW and Victoria. Surveying is hard work, with long hours and a lot of distance to cover. At Hanlon’s we can be in Manilla one day and Manildra the next, providing railway infrastructure surveys to land inventory, subdivision planning and farm irrigation design. We live and breath rural, but we know with hard work and the right people we get it done. If you’re thinking about becoming a surveyor and want to learn more there are some great resources available - visit A Life Without Limits website.


What is and how to be a trainee surveyor!

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There are a number of routes you can take to become a trainee Surveyor in this day and age. But essentially you can start your career path right out of school! Ideally you will have an interest in Maths, English, and Geography, but within a traineeship it is all on the job learning. 

Surveyors can take on many different tasks and roles during their careers, depending on their qualifications and level of experience. 

Surveying students at TAFE and university are able to get a taste of what surveying is really like by starting out as a trainee Surveyor during study. TAFE students can then move into a Surveying Technician or Draftsperson role once they are qualified. Meanwhile, those in university complete their degree as a Graduate Surveyor, with some choosing to specialise in other related fields like geospatial information systems.

A trainee Surveyor will generally support the survey team which would consist of one or a number of Surveyors / Survey Technicians in the undertaking of surveying tasks both in the field and office environments.  

Being flexible with the willingness to travel are essential requirements of being a trainee Surveyor, as is the ability to learn a multitude of skills. Being a Surveyor, you are not chained to your desk and the best part of the job involves being out on site at different locations across the country. Being comfortable with computers as the majority of survey information is recorded, processed, and delivered digitally and working with initiative and some independence after training helps.  

If you want to see Australia while earning a living and learning new skills, maybe this is the career for you. 

Click here to see what careers Hanlons has to offer!


Level Crossings

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Regional NSW Level Crossing Upgrades

We were recently engaged by both John Holland CRN and ARTC to undertake survey and engineering design for the upgrade of 12 level crossings across regional NSW.Rydal Design

For 6 weeks, our surveyors criss-crossed the countryside performing detail and property boundary surveys at each level crossing site. This information was important. The surveys allow our rail designers (who are also surveyors) to know what railway and road infrastructure is on the ground.

Most of the crossings were in a poor state. The level crossing building program is important for public safety, operational efficiency and return on investment.

Our surveyors also provided construction support. After all, the road and the rail levels have to match and with the heavier truck loads and greater vehicle traffic, its important level crossings are done right.

Concrete re-sleepering on the Main West

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Survey and Design

John Holland Rail CRN have an ongoing program of concrete re-sleepering of steel sleepers on their tight radius curves. The new sleepers will keep provide longer track stability and ride.

This means the track alignment needs to be determined or designed and analysis undertaken to make sure the available transit is sufficient for trains to pass through. Bridges such as the one on the left were assessed to determine if passing trains have sufficient space to pass safely.

This requires high-order control and track pick-up surveys followed by detailed track design.

Upon design approval, re-sleepering construction can commence, often in conjunction with the removal and replacement of fouled ballast. Survey constuction support ensures the design is achieved thereby maximising the asset life.

This project was over 1800 metres long at Newbridge near Bathurst. This is one of four similar projects on the Main West line.

Regional roads - how important? Very!

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We were recently engaged by Liverpool Plains Shire Council to undertake engineering design for the upgrade of the Merriwa to Willow Tree Road. Now this road traversed the Liverpool Range and meeting Austroads' design standards was difficult. A Safety in Design report was as important as the the construction drawings. After all, whilst reducing travel times is important, getting to one's destination safely is the overarching goal. The site is mountaineous and often single-laned. The new design had to allow for rural 2-way traffic. This meant rigid trucks as well as light passenger traffic.

The before and after photos says it all. A great final result for an important road link.

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 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 like being 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.

Track reconstruction at Gemalla - how a railway gets built

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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. 



Temora Grain Terminal - Why efficient grain handling is important

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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.

WR Connect - the MIA's newest freight intermodal

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WR Connect is the freight terminal at between Leeton and Griffith at Wumbulgal  The masterplan, launched on 30th June 2018, showcased the master plan and road linkages study for the WRConnect.  

WR Connect is an operational freight terminal built on a budget to aggregate grains, cotton and hay for export via rail. The masterplan project is 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. It's 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.


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.

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. 

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