Project Delivery with a Difference

NorthWest Project Management Pty Ltd

NWPM (NorthWest Project Management Pty Ltd) is a specialist engineering consulting and people resourcing firm. The company has been supplying quality personnel to the resource sector for over a decade and is equipped to manage virtually any mining or infrastructure project from inception to completion, regardless of the size or scope. The privately owned company covers all aspects of structural, civil, mechanical engineering and building construction.

NWPM originated in Paraburdoo WA and is proudly a “born and bred” Western Australian company. The company originally had a strong iron ore focus, then expanded to cover projects across mine sites, from pit to shipment, and associated infrastructure. The team’s iron ore capabilities have endured, although the collective expertise now covers the full gamut of resource sector needs, with personnel on many different sites and commodities throughout Western Australia.

Commencing in mid 2011, NWPM added a dedicated engineering division to ensure that client needs are fully met. Engineering Manager Colin Morgan explains that the move was a step up in what NWPM was able to offer clients, but remains in the same general area of project services and engineering support for the mining industry that the team has always covered. The new addition comes as a response to client needs and will support existing clients, as well as win new ones. “We had been well established in providing project supervision and certain levels of project management. We decided to take that up a notch and offer further engineering and project support,” Mr Morgan explains. Engineering services are “a really good and obvious supplement to the project services we were already providing.”

One clear benefit to clients is that they will no longer need multiple project services providers to complete a job. “We can offer the full range for the project. It is more seamless,” Mr Morgan explains. “There is not the stop and start within the project as far as who is supplying what… With the engineering coming in, we have a business that provides the on-the-ground project supervision right through to engineering and senior levels of project management and project controls.”

The engineering division covers mechanical engineering design and drafting; civil, structural and electrical engineering design and drafting; operability and maintainability design reviews; plant evaluation and problem solving; and safety in design reviews. NWPM engineers all have substantial operational experience and “understand the day in, day out demands of operating sites,” Mr Morgan reports. The team is particularly experienced in brownfield project work. Brownfields are a target area for the company “because that is the background of our people and it is the work we enjoy doing because of the close interaction with the client,” Mr Morgan explains.

The engineering division is already bringing in an enviable roster of new contracts, including a preliminary engineering and feasibility study for a mining infrastructure upgrade project with a capital cost of $20 million. Other projects recently completed by the department include workshop improvements, drainage design and additional infrastructure upgrades.

The team understands that every job – and every client – is unique and is committed to providing a personalised, made-to-order solution for every project. Mr Morgan believes that hands-on management, along with forming strong relationships with clients and personnel, are key to offering individualised service. He explains that “working close in hand” with clients and employees ensures that client expectations are fully met and that the appropriate personnel are allocated against each and every job. Company focus, therefore, is on getting to know clients and projects in order to clearly understand and meet the customer’s needs.

To accomplish this goal, NWPM relies on a skilled team of resource labourers and professionals in every department. The company recruits and retains top notch talent by offering enviable professional and personal development opportunities and by recognising and awarding achievement. Employees are led by senior personnel armed with vast experience in the WA mining industry. And, managers have substantial on site operations experience “rather than being desk managers,” Mr Morgan reports. They also hold recognised technical and trade certificates, or business and professional qualifications.

NWPM expects its people to uphold the company’s strict zero harm policy and to maintain a safe and efficient work environment. “We adopt and work within the safety and project delivery requirements of our clients unapologetically,” Mr Morgan insists. “We demand the utmost in safety adherence from our personnel.” The company specifically looks for personnel who “adhere to safety and project delivery processes not because they have to, but because they understand the value that brings to every project.” In fact, employees regularly go above and beyond basic requirements. This includes educating the contractors that they manage on proper safety procedures to get projects “up to speed and stay in line with what our clients demand.”

NWPM has extensive experience on major mining sites and is pre-qualified as an approved service provider to several prominent mining companies within Western Australia. Much of the company’s early growth can be attributed to its relationship with Rio Tinto, which recognised NWPM’s shared commitment to safety. “This alignment with client culture and safety standards was a founding strength,” Mr Morgan remarks, “and remains a guiding principle as we continue to grow.” More recently, the company’s accomplishments have been honoured through a client’s Supplier Recognition Program. The team at NWPM was awarded “Finalist” status in the program four years in a row: 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2009, NWPM was also recognised as Rio Tinto Iron Ore Supplier of the Year in the Services Category.

Mr Morgan believes that the state of the mining industry has “returned more to the norm in recent years.” Strong, steady growth is certainly still present within the resource sector, he says, “but the fight to win work has intensified.” He calls the increased competition “a good thing,” because it “only serves to sharpen the senses and improve performance and productivity.” Another positive is that cost pressures have eased slightly, which Mr Morgan says will lead to a better long term outcome for all involved. “The growth in wages costs that we were seeing three or four years ago was not sustainable.”

An ongoing challenge for the company is finding clients who will maintain appropriate timelines in the face of an uncertain global economy. “The uncertainty within the world economy inevitably flows into the daily decisions people make within the WA mining industry,” Mr Morgan explains. “Unfortunately, this flow-through is often unfounded, and our concern is that projects are slowed down unnecessarily by the general negative outlook when the reality is that 95 per cent of the projects we are looking at need to proceed in order to meet the current operating requirements of our clients.” He says that the majority of the company’s brownfield capital work is not related to expansionary plans, but to the sustainability of current operations and outputs. The team is aware of the complex nature of the current economic situation, however, as well as the stress that this uncertain nature may put on clients. “We empathise with the current project approval uncertainty for our clients and work constantly to be flexible in meeting sourcing and start date requirements.”

Mr Morgan says that the future of NWPM is in “continuing to establish ourselves in the WA industry by generating more work across various clients.” With a team dedicated to providing the best personnel solutions possible, the expansion should come easily. The main strategy for future growth will centre on one of the company’s existing core strengths – fostering communication and strengthening relationships to best understand client and project needs. “We want to continue forming close relationships, working close in hand with client personnel to deliver projects,” Mr Morgan summarises. By doing so, the company hopes to give back to the mining industry by imparting the knowledge and experience NWPM personnel have gained over their many years of work in the field.

Strategic Resources

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December 15, 2019, 2:51 PM AEDT

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