10 years of Frazer-Nash's Australian business: Part 2 - delivering impactful projects

As Frazer-Nash’s Australian business grew, it soon found itself at the heart of projects delivering a big difference to Australian society.

As Frazer-Nash’s Australian business celebrates its 10th year, we’re looking at some of the highlights of the past decade...

Read Part 1: Building a business here.

Doing Things That Matter

As Frazer-Nash’s Australian business grew, it soon found itself at the heart of projects delivering a big difference to Australian society: helping to make lives safe, secure, sustainable, and affordable. The business’s work to develop, enhance and protect Australian organisations’ critical assets, systems and processes has been supporting transformations in the delivery of security, transport and energy for a decade now.

Staying secure in a changing world

Protecting people’s safety, and ensuring their security has been a key goal for Frazer-Nash since its inception, and support to the defence sector remains a priority. Business Manager Ben Southgate says: “From just a couple of defence clients in Australia, now we work on many more projects, and have delivered hundreds over the ten years.” In addition to work on the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer, the company has provided support on a diverse range of projects, from the Future Surface Fleet program to the Pacific Patrol Boat replacement.

Senior Consultant Linton Smith recalls the latter project: “It was a six-week project initially, the Royal Australian Navy was providing the government with horse power for its new vessels. We did the requirements work and it turned into a rip-snorter of a job – we ended up getting a second contract and the client commended us for our great work.” As well as delivering work above the water, Frazer-Nash also provided expert support underwater. “In 2015,” says Linton, “we did a study for the Royal Australian Navy, to look at the time to first rescue for a disabled submarine: a figure that needed to be properly evidenced. We were able to provide two distinct scenarios, with estimates. I got a real buzz from that one.”

Ensuring a sustainable future for society

Frazer-Nash’s expertise is being used to underpin a range of projects that are aiming to drive down carbon emissions, mitigate the effects of climate change and contribute to a sustainable future - and many of the Australian team have particularly fond memories of Frazer-Nash’s work providing Owner's Engineer support to Sundrop Farms’. Sundrop Farms’ 20 hectare sustainable greenhouse uses renewable sources of energy to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in arid areas where traditional farming isn’t feasible. Head of Department, Greg Pope, who worked in the Australian business from 2013 to 2016, says: “Fundamentally it is such an interesting concept – the scale and ambition of it led to some really interesting discussions.” Principal Consultant and South Australian Professional Engineer of the Year 2019, Anthony Kwong recalls: “It was one of my first projects. I did question how little I knew about concentrated solar thermal technologies at the time but, as it turned out our combined systems and technology approach fitted right in, from concept design through to operation.” Engineering Manager Ian Watson adds: “Sundrop Farms was one of my favourite projects. It has facets that appeal to so many people: it was a great client, the work was interesting, it covered the financial due diligence, the engineering and the actual construction of something tangible.”

Keeping Melbourne mobile

By 2013, Frazer-Nash was also enabling transformation in the transport sector, including providing systems engineering and systems assurance for the Melbourne Regional Rail Link Programme – the first major new Rail Line for Melbourne in 80 years. From these beginnings, the Melbourne-based team have gone on to support many critical Melbourne rail projects. They are currently supporting the introduction of digital signalling, a key technology to keep Melbourne mobile and at the top of the lists of the world’s most liveable cities.

Systems thinking to support Australians’ health

The company’s experts were also able to bring specific skills that weren’t readily available in Australia, says Greg: “We undertook preliminary work on the safety case for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. We had people on the ground in Australia with decades of experience of supporting the safe operation of nuclear facilities in the UK, so we were able to offer our unique experience to the project.” Australians benefit enormously from nuclear medicine, with around 2 in 3 likely to use nuclear medicine in their lifetime. With these benefits comes a responsibility to safely manage radioactive waste. Helping develop the facility is part of that responsibility.

South Australia’s medical sector was also helped by Frazer-Nash’s work in 2018, as it undertook root cause analysis of power failures at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Business Manager, Marc Lyell, describes the work: “It was a highly complex project, with stakeholders ranging from government, through engineering contractors, to facility management. As it was (and still is) the most expensive building in Australia, any ‘teething problem’ at the hospital was strongly scrutinised. Frazer-Nash’s team provided the engineering support and assurance that were needed, which included the root cause analyses of failures of the cooling and emergency power supply systems, and on the assessments of seismic and fire safety.”

Innovating to benefit the world of tomorrow

Frazer-Nash’s teams are committed to making a difference – to doing things that really matter, and in doing this it is coming up with, and creating innovative answers to problems. Many of Frazer-Nash’s more recent projects have drawn on its experience of designing and developing solutions that employ novel technologies, and its extensive simulation and modelling expertise. For example, the company has used computational modelling and satellite data to predict when and where outbreaks of mould and bushfire smoke will occur in the Northern Territory, providing information that could help reduce respiratory problems and winning two awards in the inaugural Gravity Challenge. It has also developed a proof of concept for modelling the current pandemic, involving a mix of UK and Australian themes.

This experience with innovation management has helped inform the company’s work for the Defence Innovation Hub, which is investing AUS$640 million to innovate in capabilities such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Senior Consultant, Stacey Gurr, says: “We’re supporting the Defence Innovation Hub to assess the proposals submitted to it. These assessments need both technical know-how, and fresh thinking.”

While Frazer-Nash is now delivering and supporting cutting-edge digital technologies, in its early years in Australia it was reliant on less advanced systems. Ian recalls: “I was clearing the fax machine on a Friday in 2012 – we all mucked in around the office – and found an AUS$1 million order on it. We’ve come a long way. It’s funny that now we can work virtually and remotely in the Cloud, but back then our communication depended on a fax machine!”

Its innovative approach and adoption of developing technologies is helping Frazer-Nash to continue to deliver on the commitments it makes to its customers, even in an uncertain world. Jonathan Armstrong, Director of Frazer-Nash’s International Business, says: “As we face the future in November 2020, our focus on doing things that make a real difference in the world has never been so important. We live at a time where the complex systems we have long taken for granted are being challenged by climate change, population growth and changing threats to our security. This complexity is compounded by COVID. Our systems approach means that we take a broad view on the challenges that our clients face, then couple this with deep technical expertise to develop the best solutions. This approach of coupling breadth with depth is vital as we seek the best solutions to these challenges.”