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‘No worries mate’: working in Australia

15 June, 2015

Kangaroos, aboriginals and Australian football …Australia has always appealed to the imagination of many Europeans. Voets & Donkers was asked to install an air treatment system for cheese ripening in the spring of 2015. Meine Engbers, programmer at Voets & Donkers tells us more. The first steps had been taken a year before, when the management of Voets & Donkers visited Australia a couple of times for introductory meetings. It turned out that the client, cheese manufacturer Lion, wanted to set up a new Cheese factory in Burnie, on the isle of Tasmania. Lion was looking for an expert in the field of cheese ripening.

Mapping the conditions
Of course Voets & Donkers was keen to take up this challenge. Meine Engbers: “Cheese ripening always calls for tailored solutions. Here too, we had to map out the factory conditions first. How many people are working in the designated area, what kind of roof does the factory have, what is the internal and external temperature and humidity level? The Tasmanian climate is similar to the Dutch climate, except for the fact that the temperature almost never drops below freezing. Another difference is that the equipment suffers more from UV radiation than we are used to in the Netherlands. All those matters were taken into account.”

Shipping materials
Although the factory is situated in Australia, the air treatment system was first assembled in Holland. The hardware as well as the software is designed, developed and (prefab) produced and tested here. Subsequently, the units were shipped to Australia in parts. “Once the materials were shipped, we flew to Australia.” Meine Engbers says. “First our project leader, then two servicemen and eventually I went to commission the installation. During the last week, one of our managing-directors Peter Donkers, joined us for the final delivery.”

Being that far from home, the delivery was quite different. Meine Engbers: “We always fine tune the system on site. We would have had a big problem if a part had broken. Of course we shipped spare parts as well, but if the larger parts should have needed replacement, they should have been brought in from Holland. Luckily the factory is running perfectly for quite a while now. We haven’t encountered such problems yet but I will be going back there shortly to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. “

Australian football
Besides differences during the delivery phase, there are more new aspects to a project in Australia. “Safety regulations are very strict”, Meine Engbers continues. “I was obliged to follow an 8-hour safety course in Holland and I was examined through the phone by someone in Australia. These strict safety measures sometimes slowed down the project in some cases as well. If I wanted to move a hoist I had to mention it to someone in a little office next to the work shop first. Something that normally would take a few minutes took up a lot of time now.”

The Tasmanian project was more than just hard work according to Meine Engbers. “It has always been my dream to visit Australia some time. Besides the hard work, I managed to get to know some cultural aspects as well. The people are very friendly and relaxed, there is a lot of digital gambling going on in the bars and prices are twice as high. They tell you to have “no worries mate” in almost every other sentence. The absolute highlight was our visit to the ‘great final’ of Australian football in Melbourne. What a show! It was a wonderful experience.”