Keeping a focus on local with NVC Precast

Keeping a focus on local with NVC Precast

NVC Precast General Manager Business and Finance Ortensio Caroli.

NVC Precast is reaffirming its commitment to supporting local business, projects, and customers, exemplified through its works on the multi-million-dollar Echuca-Moama Bridge Project. 

NVC Precast has always viewed the local community as an important part of its success. The prestressed and precast concrete product supplier has remained in Kilmore, just outside of Melbourne since its’ beginning, growing from strength to strength with the support and encouragement of the locals. 

By far one of the most impressive projects in recent years was the Echuca-Moama Bridge Project, jointly funded by the Australian, Victorian and NSW governments. Throughout 2020 and 2021, NVC Precast’s use and support of local businesses was firmly in the spotlight during its works on Stage 3 of the $323.7 million project. 

The project set out to deliver an additional Murray River crossing, to ease the traffic flow on the existing bridge which was constructed more than 140 years ago. NVC Precast was tasked with the supply and delivery of 124 Super T-beams and six planks for the construction of new crossings over the Campaspe River and Murray River. 

The largest of the Super T-beams was over 37 metres long and 1.8 metres deep, weighing in at an impressive 81 tonnes. 

Physical construction started on Stage 3 of the project in mid-2020, with November 2020 marking the beginning of NVC Precast’s contribution to the largest transport infrastructure project in northern Victoria, with its contributions on the project completed within five months.  

The magnitude of the project saw the NVC Precast team dedicate more than 30,000 hours to manufacture the precast beams, totalling 3725 metres in length containing 3464 cubic metres worth of concrete, requiring almost 700 concrete deliveries.  

Over 250 kilometres of strand was used to the manufacture the beams – which if laid out – would span the entire state of Victoria, from Echuca to Torquay.

The project however was not all smooth sailing. Unprecedented supply chain and personnel impacts were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting infrastructure works across Victoria.

General Manager Business and Finance Ortensio Caroli says the support and contribution by the local community were invaluable in NVC Precast’s ability to meet the construction deadlines of the project.

“We obviously didn’t anticipate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consistent lockdowns and travel restrictions across the borders,” he says.

NVC Precast worked on the Echuca-Moama Bridge Project began in November 2020.

“We’ve been operating in Kilmore for over 30 years and have built strong relationships with many businesses and subcontractors within the region. While Melbourne was locked down in the ‘ring of steel’, we were able to continue working as an essential workforce under ‘COVID safe’ protocols.”

“It’s not just the countless hours of hard work and support by local tradesman and labourers over the years. It’s more than that,” Caroli says.

He adds that locals are often impressed with the sheer size of the structures. 

“Due to the size and scope of our products, our business is visible to the community, when we transport one of our beams, everyone knows about it,” Caroli says.

“We often receive feedback from others in the community about the sense of pride they feel when they see these huge structures escorted by pilot cars with their flashing lights, slowly travel down the road to their final destination.”

The beams, escorted by pilot cars in the front and rear, travel on a route predetermined by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), to ensure the safety of all road users. This route must consider road assets, such as bridges and intersections, which will need to withstand the mass of such a large object. As such, extensive planning is required to ensure these elements are transported safely.

Permits issued by the NHVR specify the conditions for the transport, which includes timeframes for travel restrictions. For example, the loads were not allowed to move through Echuca during peak hour or during darkness. All beams were transported to site during daylight hours.

“You can appreciate the traffic delays that residents can be faced with, when we’re transporting our beams through the community. But rather than becoming impatient, we get phone calls from residents asking us for details of the route so they can watch the beams as they go past and take photos,” he says. “It’s also great to see comments on social media when workers are sharing posts.”

“We try to source locally as much as possible, in doing so all businesses can benefit from the major infrastructure projects that we supply. This allows local businesses to thrive and provide more services and employment opportunities for residents and young people. There are many tangible and intangible benefits to using local employees and suppliers and this project highlighted the flexibility and availability of local resources,” he says. 

Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm says NVC Precast is an “excellent” example of prioritising local suppliers.

“They’re incredibly important to the Mitchell Shire economy. They can have up to 80 staff onsite at any one time and their continued support of local apprentices is invaluable,” Chisholm says.

“The business-to-business relationships built and maintained by NVC Precast and other local contractors are critical to a resilient and diversified local economy.

“Not only do they support local jobs and businesses, NVC Precast also support local community groups like Kilmore Tennis Club by donating materials and sponsorship of the Kilmore Busking Championships.”

Keeping the project local not only refers to suppliers, but also people.

In line with the Victorian Government’s Major Project Skills Guarantee (MPSG), NVC Precast, when working as a sub-contractor for the Echuca-Moama Bridge Project, contributed to the Local Job’s First policy, opening opportunities to engage Victorian apprentices, trainees or cadets for at least 10 per cent of the project’s total labour hours.

NVC Precast currently employs apprentices learning skills across the engineering (Fabrication Trade) and concreting disciplines. 

NVC Precast also contributed to securing employment for the most disadvantaged members of the community. 

The Victorian Social Procurement Framework is designed to provide employment opportunities for people living with a disability, are long-term unemployed or disengaged youth, or are Aboriginal.

Caroli says NVC Precast is proud to be able to work with local employment organisations to provide valuable and meaningful work for disadvantaged community groups. 

A local future

NVC Precast will continue to support local business for the foreseeable future. As Caroli explains, the company’s vision starts with ensuring the success of its own locally employed workforce.

“The company has always had the philosophy of hiring from within the local area. We want our staff to be able to get home at a reasonable time to spend it with the families and loved ones. We’ll always take the health and safety of our people very seriously,” he says.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm says the Echuca-Moama Bridge Project demonstrates the level of expertise which is available throughout the region.

“Local businesses need to support each other to assist in reducing escape expenditure and keeping jobs local. It’s extremely important and very pleasing to see local suppliers being used on major projects,” he says.

“We’re very pleased to have NVC Precast in our shire and look forward to working with them in the future”