XXL SHEDS undeterred by extra-large machinery

XXL SHEDS looks after infrastructure projects from the design phase through to supply and construction. Australian Mining discusses the scale of these projects with the company’s co-founder Hamish Webb.

The scope and size of a mine site demands adequate infrastructure that helps operations run smoothly.

Activities that occur on the sideline, such as logistics, are the supporting pillars of the core mining operations happening in the pit.

With the constant push for increased productivity, mining vehicles are being designed with increased capacity.

XXL SHEDS, as the name implies, facilitates equipment maintenance by taking care of infrastructure projects from design phase through to supply and construction.

Australian Mining speaks with XXL SHEDS co-founder Hamish Webb about the company he started six years ago.

What was the idea behind XXL SHEDS?

My father and I founded XXL SHEDS in 2013. We identified an opportunity to diversify cold form steel designs into larger buildings. With this concept, we entered the market with success that led us to set up a construction company. But the story didn’t end there. We came up with innovative designs, in which we could incorporate both hot rolled steels and cold form steels in our patented SMRT (Structural Member Rafter Transition) hybrid portal system, maintaining engineering integrity but providing significant cost advantages for companies. It is welcomed in the United States and Australia. Beyond that, we also build buildings in Papua New Guinea.

What shift did you perceive in the sector when it comes to mining infrastructure?

Mining is a significant industry in Australia, and it requires infrastructure like warehouses and facilities – to service its vehicles or to house its processing plant. Large buildings like sheds are ideal. The scale of mining projects means the size of their equipment and requirements are generally well outside the standard available designs. Our technology allows us to work with those sizes and provide an efficient outcome for them.

What are the latest infrastructure needs?

A continual advancement in mining equipment and machinery means things are getting bigger and better. So does the traditional service bay or warehousing needed to accommodate that extra size? These massive trucks also need to be serviced with their trays lifted during maintenance. That can go up to 20 metres high. This pushes the boundaries of shed capacities, but we can meet this need. We’re able to build a shed up to that scale. We’re building one now in Boggabri and we know there are more opportunities out there.

How do you cater to remote mine sites?

We’ve got supplier-partners around Australia. We relocate to sites once it’s time to build. We have no hesitation going to the site to work through any problems, provide recommendations and understand their need to help with the design process.

Is your approach different to the traditional design pathway?

There are thousands of sheds companies in Australia and most of them are affiliated or owned by rollformers. They’re risk averse and limited to their standard designs. Our concept was to begin where they finish. We do the next level up from the end design they can offer.

That was the gap in the market and the opportunity existed for us to provide cost effective, turnkey solutions. Our client can come to us with an idea, and we can assist them from design right through to building and completion. It’s different to how it traditionally works in the market.

Companies usually have to go to a design consultant, who will engage a design engineer and consult other advisors. They then go to the market for a supplier tender. All of a sudden, you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars before you reach construction phase.

In contrary, we look after the whole process, streamlining it and helping save companies time and money.

What do people often overlook in an infrastructure project?

The structure above the ground isn’t the only important thing. It’s also the structure below the ground. When trucks go through maintenance, they’re lifted up, so there’s potentially 170 tonnes of load in one particular area of the concrete. Our approach boils down to understanding what the purpose of the building is and designing it for purpose from the ground up, and we can cater to this situation.

Equipment like Caterpillar D11 dozers also come with grousers. In this context, we can embed railway steel in the concrete slab. And when the machine goes into the sheds, it won’t touch or damage the concrete.

This is because we sit down with a company, start with a blank piece of paper and ask questions such as, ‘What do you really need?’, ‘What vehicles are you servicing?’, ‘What are you housing?’, ‘What are the turning circles?’ Based on this, we can come up with the most efficient design possible.

This article also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.

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