Of the right ‘caliber’: Engineering successful projects

Image: Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia primate habitat

Project engineers look at a project through a macro lens. Working alongside a project manager, these qualified engineers share the technical, managerial, and sitework load, to ensure projects are delivered in full, on time, and in spec.

When Auckland Zoo tackled the most extensive project of their 98-year history, they called on Metal Concepts to design and manufacture the South East Asia Jungle Track’s high canopy primate habitat.

Metal Concepts is a metal design and fabrication company, specialising in bespoke products for the architectural and construction markets. The scope of the project was huge, so Metal Concepts bought Caliber Design onboard to supplement their existing design team, with one of Caliber’s senior engineers taking on the project engineering role.

Several Caliber engineers were engaged for the duration of the project, from initial concepts to installation. Caliber undertook concepting, detailed design, site measuring, drawing, and worked closely with the manufacturing and installation teams to deliver the project. Throughout the project, Caliber engineers engaged with architects and end users to refine design concepts to meet both functional and aesthetic requirements.

“We encourage you to check out the video footage on our website. The joy expressed by Amy Robbins, Primate Team leader, is palpable, as the orangutans Charlie, Melur, and Wanita enter their new habitat for the first time. The result of years of research, design, development, and preparation … it was incredibly fulfilling to be part of such an important project that will make a profound difference to the lives of these animals and allow the visiting public to experience orangutan in an environment that is designed to meet their needs,” says the company.

LIGAR research chemical reactor

Another recent project that illustrates the value of a good project engineer was Ligar.

Ligar has developed a polymerisation reactor that is used to extract high value extracts (eg, CBD from cannabinoid oil) or remove contaminants (eg, smoke taint from wine).

They had the process perfected at lab scale but needed to scale up. A Caliber project engineer worked with Ligar chemists and process engineers to design a reactor capable of bigger quantities. The first step was to scale up production from glass one litre reactors to a stainless steel 10 litre reactor — a significant milestone in the process of commercialising the product.

A Caliber engineer worked with Ligar’s chemists, process engineers, stakeholders, subcontractors, and suppliers to ensure the specification met everyone’s needs. From there, the reactor was designed and manufactured locally to the required standards, then installed and commissioned on site. Throughout the testing and learning phase conducted by the chemists, Caliber’s project engineer was on hand to support and troubleshoot any issues discovered.

Successful projects require effective management. Project engineers add value to a project by pulling everything and everyone together and keeping a project on track.

Caliber Design says to sum it up, it is pertinent to quote science and engineering author N W Dougherty: “The ideal engineer is a composite—not a scientist, not a mathematician, not a sociologist or a writer, but they may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems”.