In 1988, at the age of 21, Alan Brown purchased his first bobcat and truck as a self-employed earthmoving contractor. In 1997, he formed Browns Earthmoving Pty Ltd (Browns) with his wife Belinda. In 1998, Browns diversified from general earthworks into drilling services, landing an impressive contract for the Westgate Freeway upgrade in Melbourne. Confronted with particularly tough ground conditions, Browns sought a solution that would not just fit the bill but get the job done right, and put its highly experienced team to work to develop specialised core barrels and rock drills.
This intense period of extensive research and development armed Browns with additional specialist expertise in the field of rock drilling. From 1999 onwards, the Browns customer base has grown rapidly. In response to increased client demand, the company began making its own augers and core barrels and also imported the latest drill rigs from Italy. In 2006, Browns Earthmoving was re-branded as Browns Piling, and since this time, the company has acquired a significant number of additional drills (up to 100 tonnes) and anchor rigs; the company can now proudly boast of one of the most impressive machinery fleets of its kind within Australia.
Browns Piling has extensive experience in both small to medium residential contracts and major commercial and civil construction projects. The company offers drilling services that range from holes for a retaining wall on a residential block to foundations for multi-storey apartment buildings. Browns Piling has over 30 bits of plant that range from four tonnes to 120 tonnes. In the fleet there are more than 16 excavators that all have their own pendulum drill attachment; this gives the equipment enhanced flexibility in hard to reach, aggressive drilling conditions.
In particular, the company is proud of its 10 x 23-25T Excavators with custom made heavy-duty drive units that allow for drilling in very aggressive conditions. Due to their ability to perform in tight access and aggressive conditions, this plant has made significant contributions to the Eastlink, RRLFDP, M80 upgrade, Westgate Freeway upgrade project, Peninsula Link and the Geelong Freeway upgrade projects.
Of the major commercial projects undertaken by this progressive company, Browns Piling is particularly pleased to have contributed on jobs including the RMIT Design Hub, Pixel Building, Dandenong Municipal Building, Dimmy’s Richmond Re-development, Swan St Bridge Re-development, The Shrine of Remembrance and many others.
Browns Piling has developed a reputation for reliability in the industry over the past twenty years with its commitment to performance, quality, safety and project delivery. According to Alan Brown, “Our company’s strength lies in our extensive industry knowledge and commitment to providing our clients with the latest equipment, with experienced, highly skilled and fully ticketed operators. This strength can be assessed from the successful completion of major projects that have required differing specialised skills.”
The company can offer a wide variety of drilling services. For anchor work, Browns Piling can supply and install both temporary and permanent anchors including ground anchors, tie-backs and soil nails. With a number of drill rigs including excavators ranging in size from 12 to 25 tonnes and mast-mounted rigs from 12 tonnes up to 120 tonnes, Browns can make light work of bored piers. All these units have substantial drilling depths and are capable of drilling in the majority of ground conditions – including solid rock.
CFA piles (concrete injected) are constructed by drilling with a continuous flight auger (CFA) to the required depth and injecting the concrete through the hollow stem of the auger during its extraction. CFA piling is a cost-effective, reliable and efficient method of installing piles in the majority of ground conditions. It is suitable in unstable and saturated ground conditions, with minimal noise and vibration. Browns is also expert in rock drilling (core barrel), with a range of cylindrical rock drilling tools that have been designed specifically for drilling through rock such as basalt, bluestone or ironstone. They are also utilised for penetration through artificial obstacles like masonry and reinforced concrete. An additional advantage of the core barrel is that it will not deflect laterally when encountering deflecting layers of rock or irregular surfaces.
Browns Piling also offers equipment and services to supply and install permanent or temporary casings by vibrating or drilling: to support the sides of a pier; to seal out groundwater; or to protect the concrete from contamination by sloughing the sides of the pier. Casing is required if unstable ground conditions and/or underground water tables or ground water exist and the CFA method is unsuitable. Never one to rest on his achievements, Alan comments that, “We continue to look for new equipment and methods of drilling to offer the market.”
In terms of staffing, Browns Piling has attracted a dynamic team of experienced personnel who have worked on significant piling projects throughout Australia and Europe. Specialising in piling, one of the most critical and demanding areas of construction, the company prides itself on delivering the highest quality finishes to its clients. Throughout any project, Browns Piling is able to sustain or re-design any unexpected complexities encountered during construction. The company offers detailed design appraisals carried out by certified in-house engineers to ensure the most accurate, efficient and cost effective solution is delivered to the client. Armed with an enviable fleet of the latest machinery and cutting edge error-check technologies, the team at Browns Piling is placed to deliver the most accurate results on the market.
Specific areas of expertise in the piling (design and construct) industry include: Bored Piers/Piles (via the operation of drill rigs ranging in size from 12-100 ton), Concrete Injected Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) Piles, and the supply and installation of Anchoring / Soil Nails (both temporary and permanent). Research and development are taken very seriously; Browns Piling carries out critical ongoing R&D within its field, and resulting developments include an in-house designed test hammer with a variable mass of 10-30 tonnes, which is now regularly employed for dynamic load testing throughout many projects.
Browns Piling has a long standing relationship with all major suppliers of equipment and materials, and the company works with these suppliers to ensure the highest quality and reliability is delivered to all clients. Most suppliers have been contributors to the business from Alan’s early days of self-employment. “This is extremely important because the two-way support gives all suppliers a full understanding of the company and what is required to meet the expectations of our clients,” he explains.
As you would expect of a first-rank operator, Browns Piling is dedicated to implementing and continually improving Occupational Health and Safety. Alan confirms that this “is integral to our objective of maximising productivity and growth. Fundamental to our business is reliability in fulfilling our clients’ requests in a professional and cost-effective manner.” Browns Piling is highly committed to employee and job site safety. All employees are expected to comply with all necessary safety measures and report any problems to the relevant supervisors / managers, and the company is committed to providing employees and clients with the latest equipment and up to date service records and improvements.
Currently the company has around 40 site staff with another six people in the office. The company enjoys large staff retention, with over 50 per cent of site staff having worked there for more than five years. Browns Piling makes certain expectations of all its employees, among them being that they must operate in an efficient and professional manner at all times while representing the company. This includes site attire, client expectations, job comprehension, quality of work, and site behaviour.
The industry has had its ups and downs over the last five years, Alan says, and the initial rapid growth of the company was met with the downturn from the Global Financial Crisis. “But the rebuild has been steady since late 2010,” shares Alan. The company continues to grow, building its experience in all types of projects. The success of meeting client expectations has developed ongoing working relationships with all of Victoria’s major builders and the success of meeting expectations in the Civil market has resulted in follow-up work on many major Civil projects. To be sure, the future looks bright for this growing company.