Deep in the outback, help is far away, meaning two things become very important on remote projects. Workers and the equipment they work with must be able to handle what the elements throw at them, and they need a sound system in place for when accidents or breakdowns inevitably do happen.
Austrack Equipment is a machine hire company that knows this all too well. They are currently responsible for supplying hundreds of excavators, dozers, graders, and "basically anything else that you could imagine is required in the pipeline construction and installation industry." Austrack service companies who run projects throughout the most remote areas of Australia, where the sites stretch further than the eye can see.
They started in 2011 as a small family-owned sales and hire business with "a goal to be the best pipeline equipment supplier in the country." It was a goal that could prove highly challenging due to competition, rough operators, equipment shortages, breakdowns, and more. Austrack goes above and beyond to reach this goal by focusing on the quality of equipment they deliver while nurturing and cultivating a positive customer experience through support and backup. Made possible by their strong team, sound equipment, and solid customer support from their suppliers, Austrack can "help out a customer over 5,000 Km away at the drop of a hat." This backup has become one of the company's most valued principles and is something they live by.
Managing a considerable machinery catalogue is no easy task. Dylan Gamble, the current Service Manager for Austrack, and his team take on a list of challenges that ensure everything runs smoothly. They start with getting the right equipment that is easy for operators to pick up and use. Then they make sure machines can get to where they need to be through managing logistics, delivery and retrieval of the equipment. They also must ensure they can access the machines for service repair and maintenance. Lastly, Dylan and his team ensure that support is easy to get when needed.
To put the scale of these challenges into perspective, at one time, Austrack can have hundreds of machines on one site at once. "We currently have 150 pieces of plant working on a single project in Western Australia on a couple of water pipelines to supply the Ironbridge mine site with water and return water." With projects like this taking place in the deepest parts of the outback in some of the world's hottest and most challenging environments, reliable equipment is of the utmost importance. This means every machine needs to be serviced on time, and technicians must carefully inspect them to reduce the risk of breakdowns. When things break and take too long to fix, it can cause downtime, resulting in expensive delays to projects down the line.
Dylan also mentioned the importance of the machines making the operator's job easier where possible. The easier it is for the operator who spends his whole day in the machine, the more they'll look after it and return. For example, Austrack equips most of their excavators in the 36 to 50-ton range with Attach2 Sure-Grip sliding jaw hitches that can pick up a range of buckets. The swinging jaw style hitches that Austrack previously used on their excavators couldn't do this. Often operators would have buckets from companies with slightly different pin centres, preventing the swinging jaw from locking out properly. The Sure-Grip makes it easier for different operators to hop in an excavator and pick up because, with the sliding jaw, they can use their own buckets without tool incompatibility. "What makes us use Attach2's hitch is its ease of use for the operator. You know, it's the flick of a switch and crowd in the bucket to attach and detach. It opens, closes, and there's never an issue operation-wise, and there's no complaints or comments from operators, which means it's doing its job right." This not only saves the operator from struggling with different tools, it often saves Austracks customers money. Contractors looking to hire the equipment can use their own buckets or attachments, saving them rental fees.
To ensure the reliability of their hire fleet, Austrack has a strict purchasing and maintenance program with two main contributing factors that lead to fewer breakdowns and happier customers. Firstly the equipment is purchased based on quality from major reputable brands such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi and more. Secondly, the machines delivered and serviced by Austrack are kept in "pristine condition." When a machine comes back in from being out on a job, it is extensively checked over and serviced with Austracks own service lists and manuals. Then before a machine is ready to ship out to its next job, it's valeted, painted, and returned to like new condition. This, coupled with Austrack's strict service and repair schedule, reduces the risk of breakdowns and therefore risk to their customers.
It's not only this reliability that's important; Dylan values providing the right equipment with the proper support. "We always source the equipment that is the best fit for our customer's project. More importantly, we always have support available no matter what they need. Whether they need fitters in a hurry or if they need parts sent out 24 seven, it's never an issue. That's what sets us apart, is that we, we provide the service that we would expect and require."
This delivery of the right tools for the job paired with Austrack's support leaves little to be desired by their customers. Dylan attributes this success to the team at Austrack and their strong relationships with their suppliers. "The biggest thing for our customers and us at the end of the day is backup. We've got a couple of big projects going on in Western Australia at the moment that if a machine goes down, it could take you two days to get parts up from Perth." For Dylan to provide fast and efficient customer service, he relies on his suppliers. If his suppliers don't have parts for a product or have issues with delivery times, his team cannot get the necessary equipment to fix a problem that his customers have, and it is a bad look for everyone. This is one of his deciding factors when picking a supplier to work with and another reason he uses the Attach2 product. "Suppliers that are going to stand by their product and back it if there is ever a defect are the ones we like to work with. Attach2 is very good at that, any small little issues or anything, they're straight onto it, and there's never any drama at all."
For Dylan and the team at Austrack, this support and backup are what they aim to deliver themselves because they are aware of how good service can improve their client's business. Their equipment suppliers like Attach2 are the backbone of operating as a business themselves. As Dylan says, "It does improve the service we offer when suppliers have our back with any issues and can help because it makes our lives easier when repairing anything and means our customers don't have to wait."