Q&A with CDC Plumbing

CDC Plumbing & Drainage is a leading commercial plumbing business, integral in the construction of landmarks including Etihad Stadium, the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Melbourne Convention Centre and the MCG Southern Stand. Hydraulics, drainage, gas and water supply all fall within its remit. While not directly a HammerTech client, CDC frequently serves a principal contractor using the HammerTech platform and therefore has become a regular user of it.

CDC has a team of over 200 employees. Its managing director Peter Carrick was the company’s first apprentice in 1972. The company’s OHSE Manager and RTW Coordinator, Mick Grisinski, has been with the company nearly as long, and spoke with us about his experience with the HammerTech platform.

Special mention must also be made to Kiri Spiridopoulos, OHS&E Coordinator and Luke Ridsdale, Project Manager who also contributed to this Q&A.

HT: How did you get your start in the plumbing business, and where has it led you?

Mick: I completed a four-year apprenticeship in domestic plumbing and stayed in that field another three years before shifting into commercial plumbing with CDC where I’ve worked for the last 23 years. My first seven years were as a health and safety representative, before I was given the opportunity to lead as OHSE Manager & RTW Coordinator.

At CDC we work on Tier 1 construction - predominantly high-end jobs that everyone would recognise. A few include Marvel Stadium, Docklands MAB Precinct (multiple residential high-rise at the early stages of the development of the Docklands area), the Austin Hospital, the Royal Children’s Hospital, New Royal Adelaide Hospital, Aurora (92 stories) and Australia 108 (101 stories).

HT: CDC started from small beginnings when it was founded by R.D. Cooke in 1970. How has it successfully grown to one of the leading commercial plumbing contractors in Australia?

Mick: This success has been driven by the ethos of the company...it’s simply one word ‘CULTURE’…a culture born from the field for the field. From the characteristics and values of each management team member through to the attitudes and aspirations of every member of all our designated work groups, we have all enjoyed watching this business grow over many years.

CDC has the engine room/back of house (management structure) to be able to deliver large projects on time, on budget and safely mitigating all risk for the client, principal contractor and end user.

HT: Health and Safety seem to be at the very core of CDC and your business strategy. Why?

Mick: Health & safety and culture go hand in hand. CDC not only has a legislated obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment, we also have a moral obligation as well. Mitigating risk is paramount and CDC’s safety management system (SMS) is the backbone of this, it completes the formula, and is critical to the success of our projects.

HT: When did you first use HammerTech and what were your first impressions?

Mick: I first came across the platform in 2016, at a Built project called Scape at 393 Swanston Street.

Like anything new or different, there was some reservation from all members of our management team. However, because CDC was one of the first major subcontractors on site, we were able to genuinely participate by requesting a brief training session. Built introduced us to the dashboard of HammerTech, and we became familiar with our profile, how to set it up, populate it and maintain it. We then provided this coaching knowledge down to CDC’s third party subcontractors.

As a subcontractor, one of the significant positives of the platform was that once we sent each of our employees the link to set up their profile, that profile was able to be transferred to any other site where HammerTech was being used. This made the induction process quicker the next time.

While it was relatively easy for younger workers to get up to speed, the older members of CDC’s work force did struggle with the technology gap, some not even having a smart phone or computer at home! So this had to be micromanaged.

HT: What are some of the pitfalls you have with software solutions on the jobsite?

Mick: Apart from the difficulties of our more old-school workers, CDC – as a contractor – has to juggle a number of usernames and passwords depending on which web-based safety portal the principal contractor uses. I think we have around 15 different ones….

Having been involved in safety for a long time, I believe there is always a risk that software solutions remove the ‘people power’ of safety. For example, prior to a high-risk piece of plant arriving on site, HammerTech enables users to obtain copies of documentation from the plant provider and upload that to a central database to which everyone has access. This is a great idea. But the risk is.… when the plant actually arrives on site is the documentation in the pouch on the plant? So when the plant arrives, this still has to be checked – nothing can replace that genuine human checking.

Another example is the skill of the human eye. If I see a task not being carried out as per best practice, I can call for it to be corrected immediately. This is a better result than waiting for a Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) to be uploaded to HammerTech and this issue being addressed at that stage.

What I am trying to explain is the gap or barrier technology can impose on the success of any task being safely executed…hope that makes sense!

‘I would also like to mention the concern from some of our employees that their personal information could be being accessed for the wrong reasons especially those who are not authorised to do so!’…but Hammertech reassured me that due to privacy & confidentiality laws and the security of the Hammertech system this will not be the case.

HT: How has HammerTech been used by CDC?

Mick: We’ve used it in lots of ways, and it does vary from job to job, even with the same principal contractor. But we consistently use it for:

• Employee inductions
• Plant inductions
• Material handling e.g. crane lifts, Alimak times
• Site safety walk action items
• Labour on site for each day
• Injury management

The most-used module would be the employee induction one, and as I mentioned there is huge benefit in being able to transfer employee profiles from site to site – a real time saver! The module for site safety walks is also one we use a lot – it’s straightforward to fix the action item, take a photo and upload it. The module keeping track of labour on-site for each day is quick and simple to use.

HT: Is digital transformation important to CDC?

Mick: Yes, it’s important to move with the times, no matter what your age - embrace it, learn it, be empowered by it!

All departments within CDC are encrypting digital strategy, and systems like HammerTech supplement this approach by improving on efficiency and the centralisation of data.

HT: What are the barriers to using a system like HammerTech and how has CDC overcome these?

Mick: The biggest hurdle is not knowing how to use the system properly. To address this, CDC OHSE Coordinator Kiri Spiridopoulos talked to Ben [Leach, HammerTech Head of Client Relations] and we organised a training session one afternoon at the CDC office for our project managers and site foremen. Sarah [Roe, HammerTech Implementation Operations Manager] did an amazing job of preparing profiles for each attendee and projected these on a screen for all of us to see. Using our own smart phones we then went through the key fundamentals and workings of HammerTech, which assisted all attendees greatly.

Overall HammerTech is one of the more user-friendly web-based portals and the statement I would like to finish on is: “From a 2nd party subcontractors point of view, I could only wish the principal contractors would agree on and just use ONE system, and this would greatly contribute to the success of digital transformation!” [HammerTech response: We’re working on it Mick, bringing them over to our platform one by one!]

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