Supported by the efficiencies offered by BlueScope Distribution, Australia’s leading raw sugar producer is using Australian-made steel in a large-scale cane bin manufacturing project that is not only using Australian materials – it’s also boosting direct and indirect employment along the Queensland coast.

Milling company Wilmar Sugar turned its focus to making its cane bins in-house two years ago, after previously trialling external contractors both in Australia and abroad, in a multi-million dollar manufacturing project that’s delivering a sizeable cash injection to the North Queensland economy through supply contracts and job opportunities. As the owner and operator of eight sugar mills – four in the Burdekin, two in Ingham, one in Proserpine and another in Sarina – Wilmar Sugar employs more than 2000 Queenslanders, produces about 60 per cent of Australia’s raw sugar exports across these mills and is also the country’s largest producer of renewable energy from biomass.

Wilmar Sugar’s Works Program Manager Vito Giarrusso said manufacturing the cane bins in-house allowed the company to maintain and increase its skilled workforce. “We made the strategic decision to bring manufacturing in-house as a way of up-skilling our employees and providing further employment opportunities within the small towns in which we operate our mills,” Vito said. “Last year we were able to take on 12 new boilermakers to assist with the project and our apprentices are being given the opportunity to learn high standards of welding during the early stages of their careers.”

Wilmar Sugar sought out a steel supplier who could keep up with the tight deadlines and mass steel supply that the project would demand. For Wilmar Sugar’s Procurement Category Manager, Tony Fillingham, BlueScope Distribution met all of the requirements. “The partnership with BlueScope Distribution came about from an effective tender process we conducted last year,” Tony said. “BlueScope Distribution came out on top overall because of the safety procedures in place, the capability of its employees and its ability to deliver quality products within our deadlines and budget.

“During the tender process we visited all of the tenderers’ premises to see how each business delivered on safety, productivity, quality, and ability to supply, deliver and deal with issues,” he continued. “At BlueScope Distribution we were impressed at how everything was managed, from the way visitors sign in at the front desk, to the safety PPE they gave us, to the sort of training they gave their employees. Their workshop also impressed us with its professional set-up and safety features.

“We worked through the key components of a Steel Efficiency Review® with Wilmar Sugar to make a full assessment of its special requirements and have ensured we met and surpassed those requirements,” said David Gurry, BlueScope Distribution’s Townsville Branch Manager. “They included cutting to size with tight tolerances, marking and packing product for easy product identification, and adherence to a strict delivery schedule – all measures which ensure we help make production quicker and more efficient.”

“With the vast amount of steel required by Wilmar Sugar, the efficiencies we offer provide value that goes well beyond price. The tender with Wilmar Sugar proves that BlueScope steel products can absolutely compete with national and international competitors,” David stated. “We’re also very proud to be seeing our Australian-made steel playing a role in Queensland’s iconic sugar industry.”

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