Working in Australia
Meine Engbers, Programmer/commissioning engineer at Voets & Donkers, would like to tell you more about it
From kangaroos to aboriginals and Australian football, Australia has captured the imagination of Europeans for centuries. Voets & Donkers was allowed to install an air treatment system for cheese maturation there in the spring of 2015. Meine Engbers, Programmer/commissioning engineer at Voets & Donkers, would like to tell you more about it.
The first steps in the process were taken about a year ago, when the management of Voets & Donkers flew to Australia several times to have introductory talks. It turned out that the customer, cheese producer Lion, wanted to set up a new cheese factory in Burnie, on the island of Tasmania. Lion was looking for a specialist in the field of cheese maturation for this.
Of course, Voets & Donkers was happy to take on the challenge. Meine Engbers: “When ripening cheese, we always deliver custom-made products, and once again, we first had to map out the conditions around the factory. How many people work in the room, what kind of roof does the factory have, what is the temperature and humidity inside and outside? Tasmania’s climate is comparable to that in the Netherlands, with the difference that it almost never falls below freezing. In addition, the material is subjected to more UV radiation there than here. We took all that stuff into account”.
Although the factory is operating in Australia, the air treatment system was first fully assembled in the Netherlands. Both the hardware and the software were designed, developed, (pre)fabricated and tested here. Then the cabinets were shipped in parts to Australia. “When the materials were shipped, we flew to Australia in stages”, says Meine Engbers. “First our project manager, then two technicians and then me to commission the installation. One of our directors, Peter Donkers, also came in the last week to deliver the system.”
”It's always been my dream to visit Australia. Even though I was there to work, I still experienced a bit of the culture of the country.Meine EngbersProgrammer/commissioning engineer
That delivery, so far from home, was different from a delivery in the Netherlands. Meine Engbers: “We fine-tune the final points on site so that the system runs optimally. If, during that fine-tuning on Tasmania, you break a large part, you have a problem. Of course, we did supply some spare parts, but the large parts would have had to come again from the Netherlands. Fortunately, the factory has been functioning for some time now, and these kinds of problems have not occurred. However, I’ll be back soon to dot the final i’s”.
More than just the delivery phase is different when you are running a project in Australia. “The safety regulations are very strict”, continues Meine Engbers. “In the Netherlands, for example, I was first required to take an 8-hour safety course and I was called from Australia for a test. On the project, these strict regulations sometimes slowed things down; for example, before moving an aerial work platform, I first had to report it to an office in the workshop. Sometimes that took a long time, while otherwise I could have moved that thing in a few minutes.”
According to Meine Engbers, the project in Tasmania hasn’t just been hard work. “It’s always been my dream to visit Australia. Even though I was there to work, I still experienced a bit of the culture of the country. People are very nice and relaxed, there is a lot of digital gambling in the pubs and the prices are one and a half times as high as here. Almost in every sentence they say, ‘no worries mate’. A real highlight was a visit to the ‘great final’ of Australian football in Melbourne. What an incredible spectacle! An experience I won’t soon forget.”