ASPEC Perth Office 10 Year Anniversary

By Joanna Ao & Mark Biggs
20210701 - ASPEC Perth Office 10 Year Anniversary - Cover Image

March 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of ASPEC’s Perth office. Back in 2010, the company’s founders Richard Morgan and Frank Gatto decided to expand the company to provide closer support for WA clients. Mark Biggs who had been with the company since 2004 relocated from Brisbane to Perth and formed an initial team of three with Joanna Ao and Tatsuya Uno. The Perth office was opened in The Forrest Centre on St Georges Terrace in March 2011.

ASPEC won the AS4324.1 Independent Audit contract for the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Cape Lambert Port B Project balanced machines working with Sandvik and SKM. This initial project led to further audits for 27 machines to date at sites including Nammuldi, Marandoo, West Angelas, Hope Downs, Yandicoogina, East Intercourse Island, Paraburdoo and presently Gudai-Darri.

In 2012 and 2013 we were able to grow the team with David Sheen, Stephen Gray, Anthony Nguyen and Mike Dark coming on board to undertake a range of consulting engineering work for mines and ports in Western Australia and internationally.

Circa 2012 we completed audits of two stackers for the GEMCO manganese mine expansion at Groote Eylandt that were supplied by DHHI. During this period several members of the team had trips to China for both the DHHI and Sandvik machine design reviews, and machine weighings prior to shipping to Australia.

The Perth office relocated to the current location of 28 The Esplanade in the BGC Centre in 2014. At the time the team were working extensively for BHP Minera Spence copper mine in Chile to assist with auditing, remediation and asset management of the large materials handling systems. This involved several trips to site in the Atacama region via Santiago. The heap leach equipment used for copper mining is different to that typically found in Australia and had a number of new technical issues that had to be understood. Working with the engineers in Chile, using different standards and overcoming language barriers and time zones required new ways of working and a flexible approach.

Since 2016 we have completed work for BHP on many of their balanced machines and car dumpers. This included development of balance models to assist with maintenance, fracture mechanics studies on damaged bucketwheel shafts, mechanical design audits of the South Flank Project machines, fatigue life studies on car dumper cells and design improvements for bucketwheels to name a few. We have worked closely with Bureau Veritas on the balanced machine inspections and engineering reviews for BHP.

Helen Lloyd relocated to Perth in 2017 and has helped the office improve the way we manage our projects and deal with our clients. This has included several large campaigns where ASPEC has had to achieve compliance with client contractor management systems and platforms in short periods of time. One of Helen’s strengths is chasing everyone to submit their timesheets each week, an important yet thankless task!

In 2017, ASPEC started providing RMP inspection and engineering services to Rio Tinto for 42 of their balanced machines. Mike Dark took on the challenge of building up systems for completing the inspections to a high standard. This work is still ongoing. We often have 5 or 6 engineers out on sites in the Pilbara crawling through machine structures. Tatsuya Uno and Mun Jo Chan worked heavily on our capability for SCADA data analysis that is used to check the machine balance and stability, structural load envelopes and fatigue cycles. Athena Roth joined the team in 2018 and has greatly improved the co-ordination of the RMP services including site logistics and tracking delivery of the reports, as well as helping the company with document and project control more widely.

Matt Warren joined in 2017 and together with Joanna and the structural team has taken on a range of challenging engineering engagements including recent structural vibration and fatigue issues in large crusher frames, as well as bringing new knowledge and skills with concrete design and buildings. Matt and Joanna are currently auditing the new machines for the Gudai-Darri project for Rio Tinto working with Worley.

Joel Tayam and Edwin Ovalle came onboard in 2019 and 2020 and have greatly increased our capability to deliver equipment repair designs, engineering studies, modelling, drafting and 3D printing.

In 2020 we offered vacation employment to engineering students Nehal Vaghjiani and Josh Pretorius so that they could complete their degrees and get an understanding for consulting engineering including visits to some of our client’s fabrication facilities.

The Perth office has been closely supported over the years by the two Directors Richard Morgan and Frank Gatto, as well many staff from other offices including Adam Mayers, Jeff Brook, Bob Gibson, Chris Hadenham, Wyndham Bird, Adam Dunn, Paul Cain, Paul Ferrari, Sean Zajac, Sara Vance, Paul Munzenberger, Lakshan Gamage, Cameron Eaton, Jolan Schloss, Glen Starkey, Mitch Hellyar, Barb Druckmann, Annalyce Halfpenny, Grace Go, Flora Hu, John Neil, Hannah Morgan and Sandra Cardow. We have also been helped greatly by independent specialists such as Brad McInnes, Peter Ford, Matt Ellis and Tim Millington among others. The QLD and NSW offices have provided backup on many jobs when we have been overloaded or needed specialist advice, and vice versa.

The Perth team should be proud that we have successfully completed over 800 engagements to a high standard for major mining companies. There has been a variety of work on a range of heavy machinery including stackers, reclaimers, shiploaders, car dumpers, marine structures, ore bins, conveyors, crushers, dust ventilation fans, workshops and cranes. The team is close knit and has supported each other through the cycles that happen in the mining industry, not to mention the Covid19 pandemic.

The team-oriented culture flows through all parts of ASPEC in which everyone’s contribution is valued. Furthermore, the company encourages a culture of work-life balance and recognises the importance of family time. The Perth office team celebrates the annual Christmas party by including all family members of the team over a weekend in south-west WA. Thanks to the families for the times when we are working long hours or are away from home.

We would like to thank our clients for supporting us the last 10 years, including the last couple years through the global pandemic. We look forward in the next decade to continue building successful relationships and grow with our clients’ needs.

Perth team since March 2011:

• Mark Biggs 2011
• Joanna Ao 2011
• Tatsuya Uno 2011
• David Sheen 2012-13
• Stephen Gray 2013-17
• Anthony Nguyen 2013-19
• Mike Dark 2013
• Kenneth Ho 2015-15
• Helen Lloyd 2017
• Matt Warren 2017
• Lauren Biggs 2017-18
• Athena Roth 2018
• Mun Jo Chan 2019
• Joel Tayam 2019
• Edwin Ovalle 2020
• Nehal Vaghjiani 2020-21
• Josh Pretorius 2020

Joanna Ao - Photo

Joanna Ao is a senior structural engineer at the ASPEC Perth Office. She has gained exposure in both greenfield and brown projects with technical and management experience. She has extensive experience in crane structures verifications and structural integrity audits for materials handling equipment.

Mark Biggs is the State Manager for Western Australia and a Principal Mechanical Engineer for Aspec Engineering. He has been with ASPEC since 2004 and is a Chartered Professional Engineer with 17 years of engineering practice in the mining industry.