There aren’t too many businesses like Shore Hire. The Geelans’ obsession with serving up customers their legendary “wow factor” has seen the business’ product catalogue grow far beyond their origins in traffic barricades. They now supply a diverse range of highly engineered shoring and propping solutions to an ever-growing customer base.
In fact, it feels like Shore Hire adds a new product every few months, constantly innovating and building upon existing technology and designs to solve emerging customer problems.
No surprise, then, they’ve hit the mark once again with their newest offering, the Shore Brace 400 Hydraulic Bracing System. And to give us the scoop on what sets this system apart, we spoke to Managing Director, Luke Geelan and Shore Hire’s incredible product management team.
With a wealth of industry experience across their engineering and product management teams it seems like anyone who comes on board with Shore Hire quickly discovers that they truly are a world leader when it comes to temporary works and shoring. Speaking directly to the National product manager for shoring “It’s my job to look after major projects in that space – so, anything requiring the design, supply and hire of anything a bit more complex,” he says. “Without a doubt, this is the best place I’ve ever worked. It’s incredible to be a part of this team and I think that’s the reason why we’re so successful. Everybody enjoys working here so much and that’s reflected in the way we service our clients and do business more generally. If you enjoy what you do, you do it right and you do it proper. Everybody here at Shore Hire shares those values. And I think our clients see that.”
The Shore Hire team have been hanging out for the launch of the Shore Brace 400. “I feel like we’ve been waiting and waiting for this one,” they joke. “And the day after it was rolled into our suite, we had it out the door on site. It didn’t sit around very long in our yard. It’s a very, very popular piece of equipment.”
With multiple accidents and unfortunate deaths every year linked to workers standing in un-shored trenches, it’s clear shoring practices and equipment are essential for providing a safe place for operators to work in.
“And that’s applicable for both above and below ground applications. So, you can shore a building up using facade retention to make sure the building doesn’t fall over. Or you can shore up an excavation so it doesn’t collapse. So, it’s essential for maintaining a safe working environment.”
The team go on to explain that many of Shore Hire’s products come about when client requests shine a light through a gap in the market. “We have a smaller system, the Shore Brace 200 and there’s no doubt that’s a very useful piece of kit,” they say. “But it wasn’t hitting the mark for clients doing larger scale excavations. So, rather than having to use multiple cross struts and deal with complex installation and extraction sequences to accommodate those jobs, we decided, in true Geelan fashion, to make ourselves a brand new brace.”
That makes it sound easy, but a lot goes into creating and producing a new product. “This system has been specifically designed to be the strongest in the market,” Luke says. “It was made out at our Sydney branch over in Condell Park by our product development team and in-house fabrication and manufacturing capability. They drew up the design and made many different prototypes. Then they conducted a lot of testing, using different methods and types of beam. And once we fell in love with a design, that’s the one we rolled out into production.”
There’s certainly a lot to love about the Shore Brace 400. “The system has a camber in it, which means it naturally bends ever so slightly, like a banana,” Luke explains. “These systems come in component form, so that camber comes naturally from the joints, giving it a bit more strength and deflection resilience. But the unique double pin system we’ve added means the Shore Brace 400 has the same shoring capacity regardless of the direction of the bend – inwards or outwards from the excavation.”
That resilience, along an increased spanning capacity make the system perfect for shoring up large scale works. “This system can span up to around 20 metres without cross struts or corner strut supports. So it’s by far one of the strongest bracing systems in the market,” Luke explains. “Say you’ve got a 20m tank you need to install underground; you couldn’t just excavate a 20m by 4m trench without shoring. The Shore Brace 400 helps you achieve a clear span, so our clients can drop whatever underground asset they need into a trench without having to navigate around cross struts and corner struts, which would otherwise cause a collapse during installation.”
That ability to build upon existing technology hints at the wealth of experience and expertise driving Shore Hire’s product development process. “We’re all about innovation here. We’re no stranger to taking an existing product and making it better,” Luke says. “Take our steel trench boxes. We took those and made aluminium trench boxes, then heavy duty aluminium and, more recently, the lightweight aluminium trench boxes. And now we’ve started to roll out our modular aluminium panel system box – that’s basically a trench box where the panels can be removed or replaced to allow for service crossing. So, the Shore Brace 400 is just another example of our in-house ingenuity; we take something like the 200, which was a great system, and make it bigger, better and stronger.”
A new product also often means expanding the range with supplementary products. “So we also recently purchased GU13 and GU16 sheet piles at nine meter lengths,” All of the team agree. “Generally, when customers are asking for a bigger system, they’re dealing with larger, deeper excavations, which not only puts additional loading on the bracing, but also on the sheets. They’re what’s retaining the earth, so that ultimately transfers the load onto the hydraulic bracing. And there’s certainly more items on the agenda to accommodate our bracing systems into the future.”
Customers love the hydraulic systems for their efficiency and flexibility. “If you were going old school and using, bulk steel beams to support your excavation, you’d obviously have to purchase the steel and have boiler makers on site to cut it down to size,” Luke says. “Then, if you cut it too short, you’ve got to start all over again. Whereas the hydraulic system is adjustable. You have a metre of play within any leg that has a hydraulic component. So not only is it more robust, it’s also more versatile.”
The hydraulic systems are also a lot quicker to install. “You’re not having to get permits for hot work, like welding,” The product development manager explains. “You don’t need specialist or trained personnel, like boiler makers, to fabricate joints and corners or struts. And they’re all modular. We literally build them and send them out, then the customer drops them in the excavation and assembles them. Alternatively, we also have the capability to preassemble the system before it goes out to the site. So you’re saving a lot of time, which means you’re also saving costs.”
It’s that capability to deliver a truly personalised solution that sets Shore Hire apart. “Because we design everything in-house, we’re not just providing a product, we’re getting involved in value engineering the solution for the client,” Luke explains. “We take into account what they’re building, how they’re sequencing it and we help them time the hire of our systems, so they’re making a cost saving there, too. It’s never just about the product itself. Customers are also tapping into the experience of Shore Hire’s in-house engineering and technical capability.”
Shore Hire boasts four chartered engineers who are accredited through Engineers Australia. “Each one is responsible for an area,” Luke explains. “So there’s a chain of responsibility for all our engineering designs that go through the office. And not only do we have all the software required to do the design work, but we also have in-house 3D capabilities now. And far beyond painting a pretty picture for the client, that actually assists us with clash detection on more complicated excavations.”
So, what does that design process look like?
“We receive an inquiry from the client – say they needed to install a concrete tank, 27 by four meters,” Luke says. “Straight away we know the size of the excavation. Then the next stage is sending one of our technical sales representatives to meet the client on site. They’ll run through the job requirements in terms of the sequencing and what the client needs out of the design. They’ll also take a heap of photos and make notes of any adjacent structures and buildings, then collect the Geotech report and permanent works drawings.”
With all that vital information in hand, it’s over to the engineering department. “They put together the client’s concepts engineering solution. Then we quote it and, once we’ve got the client’s approval, we kick off the engineering design,” Luke explains. “What we’ll typically do is issue a full approval temporary works drawing, then sit down with the client and run through what we think needs to be done in order to install and extract the system spatially.”
Once the client’s happy, those drawings are issued for construction. “That’s when we move onto mobilisation and operations,” the team explains. “So, what sections do you want us to deliver it in? When do you want us to deliver it? Do you want the sheet piles and the frame delivered at the same time? Then we’ll get into the sequence. Because the last thing we want to do is deliver a heap of equipment on site and not have any room to mobilise. And there’s a lot of equipment delivered to those bigger jobs.”
So, what were those larger types of jobs driving the demand for the Shore Brace 400?
“We’ve had people with large water retention tanks, because this is the only system in the market that can achieve the spans they require,” Luke says. “But arguably the most popular use is with an anchored sheet pile wall. So, normally, the sheet piles get installed and then an anchoring contractor will literally fire a rod through the sheet pile into the ground behind it to hold it in place. But there’s a lot of costs associated with that. Plus, you need permissions from any neighbouring properties and local authorities. Our bracing system can support the sheet piles where the anchor would’ve originally been installed, doing away with all the costs and hassles. With the Shore Brace 400 system now in our suite, we can accommodate those requests with ease.”
In addition to the smart design, all Shore Hire’s equipment looks the business, too. “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and seen a lot of equipment from a lot of different hire companies. You can tell Shore Hire is a family-owned company by the way they take care of their people and their equipment,” the team shares. “That’s very much reflected when it’s out on site; our gear and our trucks always show up bright and shiny. Everything is freshly painted, clean and delivered in great condition. And that’s standard across every single branch we have in Australia.”
Luke reckons that pride of appearance represents what customers appreciate about the Shore Hire brand. “We supply the highest quality product and highest quality service every single time they work with us,” he says. “That’s what keeps people coming back. It truly is.”