Monthly Archives

May 2020

Meet The Team – David Gallagher

By | News

Madsen Giersing’s Senior Drafter David Gallagher joined our team over 20 years ago. Throughout this time, David has been involved in a broad range of permanent and temporary work projects including wharves, cruise terminals, bridges, piling frames and other various marine and temporary structures, across Australia and South-East Asia. As well as this, David manages our company’s IT requirements. Within the company, David also wears a second hat as Madsen Giersing’s IT Manager, overseeing all of our hardware and software requirements.

Why did you become a drafter?

I’ve always been fascinated by geometry. As kid I was always drawing with rulers and set squares, and it was during my junior graphics class that the school first introduced CAD into the curriculum – soon it would be time to upgrade our first home PC, a 286XT with 2MB running MSDOS.  Fast forward to an introduction to engineering at university and applying for a job at Madsen Giersing, where my passion for technical drawing and IT remains strong.

What do you love about engineering?

I love the variety of projects and challenges that we are faced with daily, and being able to work alongside people with different backgrounds and interests.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I am working on a waterside infrastructure remediation which involves designing a temporary bridge to aid in the partial demolition of existing jetty and the construction of the new superstructure. On the IT side of things, I am in the process of upgrading our server and backup system.

What has been your greatest professional achievement?

As the industry and technology changes, I believe my greatest achievements are yet to come!

What’s the best project you have worked on?

There are almost too many to choose from, but one of my favourites was the Brisbane Riverside Expressway Bearing Replacement, which involved designing a falsework system used to support bridge jacking system and hanging formwork system. It was a challenging project as we had to develop new systems for existing infrastructure while the existing infrastructure was still in use.

Another one would be Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal. This involved as adjustable piling frame for wharf and dolphin pile driving, requiring complex geometry optimized to reduce adjustments during use.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career?

Always ask questions, as many as you can think of.

What would your last meal be?

Easy. Agedashi Tofu, Sashimi and gyoza. Or Tacos.

What is the last movie you watched or series you binged?

It was an awesome South Korean TV Series called Kingdom, full of swords and zombies!

Who’s the greatest engineer of all time and why?

Brunel.  I’m not sure he’s the greatest, as not all his endeavors were successful, but his pioneering contributions to the design of tunnels, bridges, railways and ships proved to be incredibly innovate solutions that furthered modern engineering.

What excites you about the future of our industry?

I am mostly excited by new developments in software for 3D Modelling/BIM, and changes in the collaboration and design process.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring drafter?

Always take pride in your work.


Giving Pioneering Engineering A New Lease of Life

By | Uncategorized

As engineers, we work in an industry where we strive to design solutions that last a lifetime and are all aware of the great work undertaken by those before. This understanding provides us with respect for the design ingenuity and thinking that went into the pioneering approach to connecting Australia’s regions.

A perfect example of this is the North Coast Railway line which opened up Queensland’s East Coast to high-speed travel. Covering 1,680km from Brisbane’s Roma Street to Cairns, the railway was and still is a vital connection for people and commerce. Linking Brisbane, Nambour, Gympie Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville to Cairns, the railway turned a journey that would have lasted weeks overland into a 52-hour trip on opening in 1924.

These days with high-speed trains, the journey is much faster, but by and large, the railway still uses the same route and infrastructure from when it opened. And at Madsen Giersing we are fortunate to be working on a stretch of railway that dates back almost 150 years as we bring a new lease of life to bridge structures through modern technology, modelling and design.

Engaged by Canstruct as part of a D&C contract with Queensland Rail, we are reinforcing 150+ years old, heritage-listed cast-iron piers that hold up bridges within the Wide-Bay region.

Lasse Madsen outlined our involvement “This is a fantastic project to be involved in, because of the challenges it presents, but also due to the fact that we get to work with engineering designs that were directly responsible for opening up Queensland and connecting people and goods throughout the state.”

“Because of their age and design, each pier is heritage listed, and although they are coming to the end of their life and could easily be replaced with simple concrete supports, our challenge is to create a solution that preserves and extends their lifespan without fundamentally changing the look of the structure.”

The piers are designed in sections, with bolted joints connecting them and concrete reinforcing the interior. Over time, however, they have had to cope with larger trains and higher loads than ever before and battle the Queensland climate, which is not the kindest to cast iron. Therefore, they require upgrades to extend their life.

“Our team spent a considerable amount of time analysing the structures and identifying weak points in the piers, such as bolted joints and creating solutions that would remove any weakness, strengthen the structure and meet the requirements of heritage listing.”

“Essentially, we came up with a second skin solution involving a reinforced concrete and FRP wrap around the cast iron concrete-filled piers, which doesn’t destroy the look of the piers and complies with the heritage guidelines. In simple terms, it is like wearing a compression bandage that supports and strengthens a limb without changing its appearance.”

Madsen Giersing were then engaged to investigate the cast-iron pier behaviour under load, specifically the bolted connections between pier segments. This verifies the previous work completed, improves the knowledge on these types of piers and assists Queensland Rail in managing their existing assets.

In partnership with Canstruct as the contractor we worked with the University of Queensland using sections from decommissioned bridges to undertake a testing programme that would provide a full structural analysis which could act as a baseline for bridges of a similar age.

“Working with UQ enabled us to utilise their facilities to undertake comprehensive testing in a controlled environment, using the latest technologies and techniques.”

“Through our testing and analysis, we can provide feedback on bridge performance and help a major asset owner to keep vital transport connections operational,” said Lasse.

Meet The Team – Yasintha Bandula Heva

By | News

Yasintha joined Madsen Giersing in 2009 as a structural design engineer. Prior to this Yasintha worked as a structural engineer for Kumagai Gumi in Sri Lanka where he was involved in the design of temporary structures for the Southern Transport Development Project . Since joining Madsen Giersing, he has undertaken the design of permanent and temporary structures including wharves, jetties, bridges, piling frames and various marine structures and temporary structures.

We caught up with Yasintha to find out a little more about what he enjoys most about engineering.

Why did you become an engineer?

Growing up in Sri Lanka, with my love of mathematics, engineering was the natural choice for me. It  carried a significant prestige and were thought of as the perfect career, especially for anyone who had ambitions for higher study.

What do you love about engineering?

There is always something new to learn; we are very fortunate to be involved in an industry that does not stop developing, challenging the way things have been done and trying to come up with new solutions to the challenges that the world faces.

Whether that is through learning about new materials and how we can apply them to structures or embracing the multitude of new technologies that are making an impact on our industry. There is always an opportunity to test yourself and improve your skills.

I also love that engineering is like a craft – almost a bit like cooking – there is a skill, process and recipe that makes for a great result and the most skilled practitioners are the ones who succeed. There is a part of me that worries that the skills we have are becoming eroded as we let technology take over. It reminds me a little of those food processors where you simply add ingredients and out comes a finished cake. To me, that is not cooking, and while I like and respect certain technologies, to preserve the quality we have in engineering we have to strike the right balance between human design and problem-solving versus abdicating our skills to a machine.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on Port North Common Use Berth upgrade project.  As a part of the upgrade, we are undertaking the full design of a new fire service platform and an access jetty for the existing fuel unloading platform in the Brisbane river.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?

I have always been a believer in continuous learning and professional development, so for me, it has to be being recognised as a Chartered Professional Engineer. Being recognised by my profession is the culmination of many years of hard study which has seen me obtain a degree, masters and PhD and to commit to continuously improving my skills and knowledge.

What’s the best project you have worked on?

It was the Wiggins Island Coal Terminal Project in 2013.

At this stage in my career, I was a junior engineer, and Wiggins Island Coal Terminal was the first large scale project that I was responsible for designing independently. We were responsible for the designing of temporary works for pile driving for the terminal and at such an early stage in my career working on this project was a massive boost to my confidence and made me believe that I was embarking on a career where I would be successful.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career? 

Engineering is something to be proud of. I have a huge sense of achievement whenever I can see what I helped to build; something that has been designed to last for decades into the future and will make a difference to people lives or how a business performs, or how goods and products move around the world.

You cannot underestimate being able to say “I designed that.”

Who’s the greatest engineer of all time and why?

I am going to have to choose three engineers, each of whom has inspired me personally in my career.

The first is the Mr. Yazaw, a Japanese engineer who’s words I still remember to this day “If you identify the problem, it is 50% solved.” This is such simple and powerful advice and is the starting point for designing an engineering solution to a problem.

Secondly is my PhD supervisor Professor Mahen Mahendran who guided me to achieve my qualifications and in the process of doing so changed my life through their support, advice and wisdom.

And finally, is Peter Madsen. Peter has been a mentor to me in my time at Madsen Giersing and has helped me to be a practical engineer who has a passion for helping achieve great results. Peter always have a practical solutions for the problems.

What excites you about the future of our industry?

I think it comes back to my earlier point about technology. I believe the brightest and most exciting future for engineering is if we can harness the skills and experience of an engineer and use technology, whether that is through AI or BIM or yet to be invented technology, to support the engineer, rather than replace them.

The beauty of engineering is that designs can be unique, they can be bespoke to the conditions and environments in which they operate, and that is important and something we could lose if technology makes engineering creativity ‘standardised’.

What would be your dream project to work on?

I have made Brisbane my home and love living here, so it would have to be one of the major projects transforming the city. I’d have to say Cross River Rail as it has the potential to improve transport, create new hubs and to make a long term difference to the city, a positive difference from which my family will benefit.

What do you do outside of work?

I often joke that I come to work to have a rest from my three children. That is not true, but they do take up a lot of my time at weekend. Whether that is going to our temple to worship or watching my elder son take his first steps as a junior cricketer, my time is spent pleasurably  with my wife and three kids as a family, which is the best thing in my life.