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Hanson Construction Materials
A Construction Giant with a National Systems Approach
A global perspective on local cement production. Hanson is one of Australia’s leading suppliers of heavy building materials to the construction industry. It is part of Heidelberg Cement, a world leader in the supply of quarry products, cement and concrete.
Hanson supplies aggregates, ready mixed concrete and precast products to major building projects across Australia.
As one of NCS International’s long-standing clients, Hanson has had Quality Management System certification since 1992. Managing an annual audit for a business with over 200 certified sites is no small task. And now, Hanson is also rolling out ISO 14001 certification, for its environmental management systems, to sites around Australia.
A National Framework
NCS International first certified Hanson, or Pioneer International as it was then known, for Quality Management Systems in 1992. “At the time we were familiar with their auditors because they had audited our NATA laboratories. They were already familiar with our business,” explains Paul Johnston, Hanson’s National Functional Manager for Quality Management.
“The decision to certify was driven by our customers – it was basically a ‘ticket to play’. You had to have QMS to do any major projects, although different states had different requirements. Now everyone has it, so it’s a matter of keeping up with the changes.”
Paul emphasises that these systems have always been seen as essential for constant business improvement. “Each year it makes sure we’re heading in the right direction and gives us a national snapshot. We also get good ideas from the auditors on how we can improve our business.”
Noel Gurney is the Lead Auditor for Hanson, and has extensive experience in quality, safety and environmental management in the construction industry. He carries out the audits in NSW and manages an audit team for sites in other states.
He explains how they rotate the site inspections each year. “This year, we’ll be assessing 37 sites for quality and some of those for ISO 14001 as well. We plan two to three months in advance. I prepare a program that shows which sites we’ll visit, what we’ll look at, and the dates. I also send them a quote upfront, as they need that for their SAP system.”
Each auditor receives an audit pack with previous reports, checklists, and any special instructions. “I might shade some questions on the checklist that especially apply to this site,” says Noel. “For example, a common industry-wide issue is checking whether drivers keep an accurate record of the amount of water they add after batching. We also always look at the calibration of batch plants.”
Noel says that the thing that makes Hanson quite unique is that it integrates quality, safety and environment into one national management system. “The simplicity of the system builds in user-friendliness. There are no disputes over whose responsibility it is, and staff can easily move between sites without being frustrated by different processes,” he says.
Meeting a New, Sustainable Challenge
One landfill site in Victoria is already certified to ISO 14001. “We converted one of our quarries to a waste management site,” says Paul. “So we have a legislative requirement for environmental management there.”
However, rolling ISO 14001 out to more sites is a pre-emptive move. “This is a push from HeidelbergCement, as they are looking globally at environmental management,” says Paul. “Our customers are also interested in being green. And legislation will become more onerous, so ISO 14001 will give us a consistent approach.”
To manage this on such a large scale, they are starting with a few sites in each state. “We’ve selected some major concrete plants in metro areas. This gives us a good cross-section, and then we’ll roll it out next year across all sites.”
They’ve already made some changes as a result of the pre-assessment audit. “We’ve added three new work processes as a result of 14001, and this will make it easier to expand the certification nationally.”
Looking at the Future
“Construction certainly isn’t booming at the moment, there are constraints,” comments Paul. Hanson are currently working on the Ballina bypass in NSW, and are close to completing the north-south bypass tunnel in Brisbane.
“On the east coast, most of our work involves major roads and tunnels. But in WA, we work on a lot of remote mining sites."
Heidelberg Cement left Hanson to handle their management systems locally after the acquisition in 2007. “Global initiatives don’t always work for us because Australia’s ahead in some standards,” says Paul. “But we do look at international best practice in manufacturing techniques, and learn from via our functional groups on how to improve our systems on a national basis.”
“Certification is always part of the equation in winning tenders for large projects,” Paul concludes. “Our customers need someone with both production capacity and efficiency. With our customer service centre we can better utilise our truck fleet to be more efficient for our customers. They can rely on us, our central system guarantees when and where they will get their concrete and quarry products.”
“Quite simply, quality certification ensures we meet our customer’s needs – because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have a business!”
To find out more about Hanson Construction visit: http://www.hanson.com.au/
For more information on how NCS International can assist you with your certification, call 1300 856 554 or Request a Quote Online.