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In conversation with – Shane Murphy, Executive General Manager of InfraBuild’s Steel Manufacturing

18 January 2022

For Shane Murphy, last year was a year like no other. Embedding a new operating model, managing the potential impacts of an ongoing global pandemic all amidst a booming and busier-than-ever global steel market. 

What are some of the benefits of the new operating model for Manufacturing?

Our new operating model has done some really great things for our business. It’s brought our like-minded manufacturing businesses – Mesh, Manufacturing, Australian Tube Mills and Rod & Bar – together, which has created many opportunities for us. Better discussions, sharing of experience, continuous improvement, and specialist skills on a magnitude of scale. All of these give us a great platform to be able to take our manufacturing forward while being sustainable.

What does it take to be a successful Australian manufacturing business?

We need to set ourselves up for a more sustainable future. Greening our steel and being a good corporate citizen is an expectation of society.

Modernisation of our facilities and processes will be important to ensure our success and viability, securing our business for the next 100 years. This will include a raft of changes and mindset – modernising and adapting our plant, digital manufacturing, Industry 4.0, investing in the next generation of talent as well as tapping into the existing expertise and experience of our people.

“With our deep understanding of steel-making and IP, combined with new technology and operating discipline we have the recipe for success.”

The final part is our people. We have a renewed focus on creating our own talent pipeline. To attract the best university graduates, we need to be able to articulate what we are offering and the vast array of opportunities we have. 

The reality of our business is we are always exposed to imported equivalents, so we have to be conscious and actively thinking about our offering. As a local supplier our offering can be more than just cost. We can offer our customers flexibility, just-in-time delivery, and competitive advantage.

“Manufacturing is as much about people as it is about equipment”

What’s kept you awake and made you proud in 2021?

One of the toughest challenges has been the environment that COVID has created for manufacturing. When COVID first appeared, our instinct as a business was that we would need to wind down and things would become dire.

Over the subsequent weeks we learned we were “essential workers”. We quickly realised we would have to change our tactic. We turned our thinking to: “how do we protect our employees and continue to operate?” A decision was made where any employee who wasn’t absolutely needed on our sites should work from home. Our operational crews were split to minimise contact.  

All visitors to sites were banned and we worked tirelessly to manage truck drivers and those people that needed to enter our sites. All in all, this was a huge effort to protect our employees. I am proud of my people and their efforts. While successfully protecting our people we also achieved no loss to production, and we continued to produce with only minimal impact throughout.  

We even continued to break various production records – 24-hourly, monthly and yearly. All in all, probably the hardest operating environment ever seen within our business. Another proud moment was the successful cut over of our complete ERP System. This was the largest Australian SAP project at the time, and we did it during a pandemic.

What are your hopes for 2022?

Having reflected on what we achieved in 2021, 2022 is exciting. 

The market prediction is strong and with our new operating model in place, we are positioned to do well and move from Good to Great. We have a lot of wind in our sails!

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