Specialised Machinery Company (SMC) designs, engineers and manufactures a range of specialist lifting equipment for the crane sector. Many may not be aware of the full capabilities of the business which is an issue SMC management is addressing.
SMC was founded back in 1993. Managing Director Kim Grierson initially started the business designing and engineering specialised equipment for the mining and earthmoving sectors.
Since then, the business has been through a number of evolutions, servicing other industry sectors and today it is focused on the design, engineering and manufacture of highly specialised lifting equipment. Kim and his management team including General Manager, Matt Grierson and Engineering Manager Jeremy Devine explain more about SMC’s history and the range of lifting products it now produces.
“Over the years, SMC has deliberately worked on a wide range of products which has included specialised lifting and rigging equipment which has gone to market mainly through the larger distributors of rigging equipment. In the past, we were concentrating on winching systems, including winch designs and working on projects where these designs can’t be bought off the shelf, which is where we managed to make our mark,” said Kim.
“We had customers coming to us saying a standard winch only holds 100m of cable and we need one which holds 400m, and it just moved on from there. We also worked with enquiries relating to rigging including spreader bars and ancillary equipment to the winches.
“By 2008, the big offshore oil boom happened, and we quoted a large company some large winches for saturation diving systems. They were part of a complete package of large off-shore skids and were bolted to the supply ships supporting the oil rigs. So, we diversified into this sector for a few years which took us up until about 2014. We were manufacturing specialised, high end quality product for several Navy’s and we worked on projects for the military via companies out of the US, and Canada. SMC also designed and manufacture large heavy ROV handling hazard zoned winch systems for deep sea intervention working to 4000m depths.
“We were also designing, engineering and manufacturing products for submarine programs for the Turkish navy. So, there was lots happening, and then in 2014/15 the price of oil fell through the floor so we continued with what we knew and that was our lifting and rigging and specialised equipment. I am delighted to say this has gone very well for the business. We have an expert and experienced inhouse design team who develop all the products,” he said.
Matt explains how SMC approaches a project when a customer needs to solve a particular lifting problem.
“We have customers approach us with a simple equation and typically they will say “we want to lift this object or move this from here to there, and we are not sure how to do it.”
“We sit down and take their brief, interpret what they have told us and generate a 3D drawing or model from the brief. Generally speaking, some new clients are surprised that we genuinely understand the challenges they have presented to us. We adopt a very consultative process which helps us understand the challenges they face,” he said.
“With some projects we have been asked to solve the problem of delivering divers from the deck of ship, 1000 feet to the bottom of the ocean. We worked on the brief and came back with the 3d design concepts. We did this for the Turkish Navy on a project relating to submarine rescue ventilation systems for submarines that could be stranded on the ocean floor at 600 meters. In most instances we understand the client will come back to us on our initial concepts and they may want to change elements of the design.
“We call this process the design spiral. It is very much like watching a kid with a lollypop. They start on the outside and you go round one circle at a time trying to get to the centre. It might go around five or six times before you hit the centre and that’s when we agree the solution is right and move to the engineering aspect of the solution. We have been supplying this type of service and solution right around Australia, indeed right around the world. We’ve proven the quality of our ideas and solutions with our work with the Defence Industry, and we have been involved with this industry for a long time,” said Matt.
SMC products are designed, engineered, manufactured and certified to the highest standards They comply with all the Australian Standards, American Bureau of Shipping, DNV as well as a whole range of globally recognised standards says Kim.
“When a crane company comes to us, they can be assured that SMC will apply the highest levels of skill, experience and manufacturing know how to their particular project. We have had great success with the lifting houses around Australia, they view us as a one stop shop. When they come to me, Matt or Jeremy with a query, they know we will be responsive in terms of getting the designs, 3D models and the price back to them. They know it is going to be a fully engineered product, they know the fabrication processes we adhere to and the finished quality we deliver. All of this is packaged on a pallet and shipped to them. A one stop shop is what we are offering,” he said.
Products are available through a nationwide network of distributors, but Kim wants the market to know that enquiries from crane businesses are welcome for bespoke products and solutions.
“SMC has the expertise and experience when it comes to the very specialised area of heavy lifting, engineering and the manufacturing of products for specific projects. We want the market to know this is an area within which we excel. Recently, we have had a number of successes which involved us working with crane companies on a direct basis and solving their particular project or problem. We want to build on these successes.
“We understand the challenges faced by crane businesses in the sector, and we understand many may not have heard of Specialised Machinery Company before. There will be many situations and projects where a crane business is going to need specialist equipment for a lift which can’t be bought off the shelf.
“Not only do we have a wide range of standard product which is available throughout Australia via our distribution channels, crane businesses can buy from us a wide range of specialised equipment, fully designed, engineered, manufactured and certified which will enable them to complete complex lifts safely and efficiently. We can cater for their day to needs and also the more complex and tailor made solutions, so we are encouraging the crane sector to contact SMC and discuss our capabilities,” he said.
“We know a number of the larger crane businesses are using our products. We personally know a number of the WA based crane businesses and they are frequently in our factory, but Australia is a massive continent and there are lifts happening every day and in extremely remote areas. It is these businesses we can help with our specialised capabilities. For these reasons we have decided to generate a greater awareness of SMC, our specialised capabilities and what our brand stands for in the crane sector,” said Kim.
Matt understands that crane capacities are getting larger, lifts are getting heavier and more complex and the lifting products and rigging equipment need to keep up with this evolution. He knows SMC is more than capable of assisting crane businesses who are facing these tasks.
“We are seeing mobile cranes, both crawlers and all terrains, increasing dramatically in capacities. We understand a 1200t capacity crane won’t be lifting 1200t at a radius of 1 meter that often, but it will be frequently lifting 300t at quite a distance on these larger projects.
“We’ve just finished a project with a significantly sized crane hire company in WA. They approached us for some spreader beam systems for a 300t lift they were working on. They provided us with the parameters and their lift plans. The beams were 13m in length and they wanted to the beams to be built in sections which enabled them to become modular. Obviously, the client wanted to utilise the beams on other jobs which might require different configurations. We designed, engineered, manufactured and certified the beams.
“We had to work closely with the client because the object they were lifting was very large and the boom length was limited to the crane they planned to deploy and there was restricted air height on the site They took the beams to site, and they worked perfectly with the lift completed safely and efficiently. This is a perfect example of how we plan to work with other crane hire businesses, we are a collaborative business with capabilities of solving the most complex of lifting solutions,” he said.
Engineering Manager Jeremy Devene has been with the business for 15 years. He explains more about the design engineering and manufacturing capabilities of SMC.
“I started as a mechanical fitter working on the cranes Kim had designed, I then went to university and completed my degree in design and engineering and now I’m focused on the engineering aspect of what we do at SMC.
“We mainly work with Autodesk products during the design process, and we use Inventor 3D and Autocad for 3D. 95% of what the teams does is 3D modelling and this way we can conduct all the Finite Element Analysis and we use manual Calculations to cross check these.
“We have a 3D printer which we use for prototyping if we are manufacturing a complex shape. The major focus for the business has been to bring all our manufacturing capabilities in house. Which has meant we have doubled the size of the workshop and invested in new equipment including press brakes and paint shops. Managing everything else inhouse provides us the flexibility and responsiveness to design and manufacture these heavy lift solutions Kim has been discussing, very quickly. Managing our own supply chain is critical in terms of lead times for these projects,” said Devene.