Men from Marr’s: taking innovation to new heights

A world leader in the design and delivery of heavy lift luffing tower cranes and complex craneage services, Marr Contracting has contributed to almost every major construction project in Australia.

Known as “The Men from Marr’s”, the third-generation Australian-owned company has supplied its cranes and expertise to projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme and the Gorgon LNG Project, the largest single resource development in Australia’s history.

The Men from Marr’s cranes can also be found on construction sites worldwide. Some of the company’s high-profile international projects include ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK, the One Za’abeel mixed-use development in Dubai, and the Alba Potline aluminium smelter expansion in Bahrain.

The first Marr crane was developed by founder Gordon Marr in 1926. Today, the lift capacity of the company’s fleet is considered to be the 13th largest in the world. It includes the world’s smallest tower crane, the Marr 40R, and the world’s largest capacity tower crane, the Marr 2480D Heavy Lift Luffing crane.

Marr’s prides itself on designing crane solutions, believing the crane needs to suit the job, not the other way around.

‘Instead of offering an off-the-shelf crane, we work with clients to find an engineering solution that works – no matter how big or complex the job,’ says Simon Marr, Managing Director, Marr Contracting. ‘If the right crane solution for your job doesn’t already exist, we’ll design one for you.’

World-first engineering solutions

In November 2019, The Men from Marr’s embarked on its most ambitious project to date: the construction of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge in Turkey. With a total length of 4,608 metres, a central span of 2,023 metres and a total tower height of 318 metres, it will be the world’s longest span suspension bridge when it is completed in 2022.

Impressed by the company’s track record in designing and delivering large-scale lifting solutions on challenging projects in Australia and around the world, the project owner, Daelim – Limak – SK E&C – Yapi Merkezi (DLSY) Joint Venture, challenged The Men from Marr’s to develop a solution that would reduce construction time and associated risks.

The company’s world-first engineering solution involved using the M2480D HLL cranes to lift large modularised components into place, avoiding the more traditional approach of lifting smaller components one-by-one and then welding on-site.

With the capacity to lift up to 330 tonnes, the M2480D HLL is the world’s largest capacity tower crane and the only one in the world that can lift the large components that will make up the two 318-metre-high bridge towers. During construction, the cranes will complete the world’s heaviest (165 tonnes) and highest (318 metres) craneage lifts while situated a kilometre offshore.

The way in which the cranes were set up was also a major engineering feat. The cranes were shipped in pieces to Gallipoli, assembled onshore on purpose-built foundations, lifted from shore, transported to the middle of the Dardanelles on a barge crane and then lifted into place at the base of the bridge. This was the first time ever a crane of this size has been lifted in a fully assembled state.

‘The sheer lifting power of our M2480D HLL is a game changer for this project and could forever change the way our industry looks at building bridges,’ says Marr.

‘This is an exciting project for us – not just in engineering terms but emotionally and culturally as well. Gallipoli holds a unique place in the heart and psyche of both the Australian and Turkish people, and for us to work alongside Turkish engineers and construction teams on building this significant legacy project 100 years after WWI is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ Marr says.

International experience

The Men from Marr’s entered its first overseas market – Qatar – in 2008, and has ongoing projects in Europe, the Middle East and the UK.

As an Australia-based business, The Men from Marr’s has developed strategies to win international contracts and maintain strong client relationships. In addition to offices in key markets – the UK and Turkey – the company works closely with clients to understand their challenges and what they require.

‘We listen first, then adapt and implement solutions that add real value back to their projects,’ Marr says.

In offering advice to other Australian companies thinking about exporting, Marr says, ‘The biggest challenge is actually taking that first step. To be prepared for that, make sure you understand the markets you want to enter and know what your unique point of difference is. Then you need to make sure you have the right people and structures in place to be able to add value to your clients.

‘Finally, be prepared to invest in building your brand, opening offices if necessary and recruiting the right people to get you where you want to be.’

FTAs pave the way

Australia’s free trade agreements have assisted The Men from Marr’s to reduce the cost of supplying construction and related engineering services in key markets.

‘Not having to pay duties on equipment imported for short-term contributions to projects has helped level the playing field and made us more cost-competitive when bidding on international jobs,’ says Marr.

Austrade assistance

The Men from Marr’s has benefited from government support at critical points in its export journey. The company has received financial support from Export Finance Australia on the 1915 Çanakkale project; in-country advice from the Consul General/Ambassador’s Office in Istanbul; and marketing assistance from Austrade to highlight its involvement in the project.

‘We’ve also been introduced to key contacts in regional offices and have had significant support and advice from our Austrade Trade Adviser, which we believe will help us significantly in pursuing future international projects,’ says Marr.

As problem-solvers who love a challenge, expanding into international markets has allowed The Men from Marr’s to demonstrate its innovative thinking and continue working on the world’s biggest and most difficult projects.

‘Entering international markets has allowed us to grow our business and future-proof against the ups and downs of local markets and sectors,’ says Marr. ‘We’re now a global business with the ability to work across multiple regions and sectors, ensuring we can grow our business sustainably.’

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