Some readers may not be up-to-date on the world’s largest aluminium ship builder. And may not realise that we are referring to a highly successful Australian organisation with corporate headquarters in Henderson, Western Australia.

In fact, the company in question is none other than Austal Australia. It is a company that has more than 5000 employees and three Australian Service Centres as well as shipyards not only in WA but also in the Philippines, Vietnam and Alabama in the US.

Austal commenced operations some 33 years ago with a vision to build high quality commercial vessels for the international market. And what they have achieved is nothing less than amazing. Today, as a global shipbuilder and defence prime contractor, Austal is recognised as a world leader in the design and construction of customised commercial and defence vessels. Many of the world’s leading ferry operators, navies and defence forces are valued Austal clients.

For Australia, Austal is the defence prime contractor and maritime technology partner of choice. The company designs, constructs and supports revolutionary defence and commercial vessels for the world’s leading operators.

Austal and BlueScope Distribution working together

The Business Development Manager for BlueScope Distribution, Damien Corich, outlines the contribution BlueScope Distribution made on two recent projects.

“We were presented with a mammoth challenge of providing a distribution model for Austal that included product innovation, improved capabilities, costing efficiencies, vendor managed inventory and performance measures across multiple continents,” explains Damien.

BlueScope Distribution provided a single source of supply for steel and aluminium (5083/5383 aluminium plate, 5383 aluminium extrusion and 350 grade structural steel); also offering 5383 DNV marine grade product innovation and design.

All aluminium plate products and extrusions were supplied both in 5383 grade DNV certified sourced from three aluminium mills with completed custom die design, covered by technical and engineering support. With the added support of local warehousing and vendor managed inventory.

A strategic distribution model was developed incorporating the following key deliverables:

  • Completed direct mill deliveries to Philippines & Vietnam shipyards
  • Acquired DNV class certification for new innovative aluminium grade 5383 plate and extrusion in region
  • Custom engineered die design and casting
  • Provided specialised containerisation with open tops to maximize loads and meet unloading capabilities at the shipyards
  • Shipped materials from multiple ports

Working across two continents in four countries, BlueScope Distribution’s export capabilities kept up with supply and demand by shipping containers full of aluminium to multiple ports.

The export team managed all marine international insurance covers and also managed all custom clearances and live vessel tracking. Airfreighting aluminium samples for approval and weld qualifications provided the assurance Austal required.

There are currently two major Austal projects where BlueScope Distribution has made a significant contribution. These are:

  1. Fred Olsen Trimaran – an inter-island ferry service based in the Canary Islands, Spain – includes a fleet of six modern fast ferries on five routes.
    • H395 – 118M Aluminium Trimaran
    • Capacity – 1100 passengers and 276 vehicles
    • Cruising speed up to 38 knots
    • Operating within the Canary Island routes
    • Shipyard Construction – Austal shipyard in the Philippines.
  2. Molslinjen Express 5 Ferry – a new 115 metre high-speed catamaran for Molslinjen of Denmark (construction contract worth more than $130m for Austal).
    • H423 – 115M Aluminium High-Speed Ferry
    • Capacity – 1610 passengers and 450 vehicles
    • Cruising Speed up to 37 knots
    • Operating within Denmark
    • Shipyard Construction – Austal shipyards in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Austal salutes the part played by BlueScope Distribution

When assessing the contribution by BlueScope Distribution, the Category Specialist at Austal, Paul Clegg, was very clear about the huge value added.

“BlueScope Distribution took the initiative and brought life to a ‘what if’ strategy delivering 7 of the 10 main focus areas of our 3-year strategy in less than a year,” he explained.

“The idea was to find a multi modal strategic solution that delivers a best practice distribution services to all Austal shipyards in region and in partnering with BlueScope Distribution we achieved this,” said Paul.

He further explained that in his view, “the developments in innovation creating a supply chain for 5383 material in the region as carried out by BlueScope Distribution is an absolute game changer.”

“It is an incredible demonstration of BlueScope Distribution’s commitment to provide a solution based strategic partnership working collaboratively to deliver an outcome to the benefit of two world-leading organisations.”

“For our part at Austal, we are delighted to partner with BlueScope Distribution, and we are very much hoping the invaluable relationship continues well into the future,” said Paul.

In the 21st century, Austal’s extensive product range includes passenger and vehicle-passenger ferries, patrol boats, high speed support vessels, surface combatants and revolutionary, multi-role vessels. As well, it is an established provider of worldwide vessel maintenance and management services. In all of this, BlueScope Distribution is a long-term and trusted partner, playing a unique role as a successful Australian company helping another Australian success story.

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