Lightweight Australian ingenuity solves heavy rooftop challenges

Kellie Moore | May 9th, 2022
Crafted with Capral

Industry pioneer and leader Con-form Group broke the mould for roof-mounting mechanical equipment in 2014 and has not looked back since.

Not that you would have noticed, because as Con-form Group managing director Nigel Cro says, “People will drive along on a highway overpass and there are a lot of things on roofs that you see; now if you don’t see those things, that’s because we’ve done a good job – that’s our goal.”

Industrial HVAC systems are heavy and often noisy. Con-form Group provide an engineered solution for the structure to cater for the weight on rooftop installations and additionally deliver acoustic solutions to minimise environmental noise. Con-form Group’s lightweight aluminium plant platforms and screens are now found on industrial, commercial and public infrastructure roofs right around Australia.

The Bathurst-based business was established more than 20 years ago and employs approximately 35 staff. In 2014, the Con-form Group team developed an industry leading lightweight roof-mounting platform system for mechanical equipment.

Nigel comments, “It was painful to see large structural steel sections getting craned onto roofs laboriously day after day, piece by piece and the danger and the logistics involved. And I remember just looking at that and saying, ‘There just has to be a better way.’ Why can´t we go to a lightweight structural system that removes a lot of this pain?”

Nigel explains that from his perspective, roofs and aluminium are something that go together very well. Aluminium is lightweight but can be engineered as part of a structural solution. Aluminium is an inherently non-corrosive material, well suited to Australian roofs subjected to harsh environmental conditions.

CFG EasyMech MR w Classic Screen Walls

The Con-form Group team pride themselves on being able to innovate and rapidly develop bespoke solutions for their clients. Employing a skilled team of engineers, draftspersons, fabricators and installers and encouraging a culture of excellence and innovation.

“Your employees are your biggest asset – that is absolutely true. That will never change, it doesn’t matter what sort of building you operate from, or what sort of machinery have. Your biggest asset, your most valuable asset will always be your team. So we´ve gone through very, very carefully and picked our team. Those individual people absolutely have to share the same culture and the same values that we as business owners do,” Nigel says.

Nigel describes the agility of his team as being unprecedented. “I can go to our structural engineer who can do up a preliminary design sketch, send that through to the CAD team to draw it. It goes down to the machinery, which is fully automated, and I can have a sample on my desk within an hour. It´s as quick as that and that is very, very rarely seen.”

con-form grab 13

Equally important to Con-form’s business and success are strong industry partnerships with key suppliers. Nigel emphasises the importance of cultural fit and the significance this plays in selecting suppliers Con-form Group will partner with.

“We’re very proud to be an Australian manufacturer. In years gone past we, like a lot of companies, purchased a lot of things from offshore. But as we realised what the importance to our customer is in timing as well as value of getting things local, we´ve brought a lot of things in house,” says Nigel.

Capral Aluminium is a key supplier to Con-form Group providing regular supply of standard and exclusive aluminium sections along with aluminium sheet and mesh products. Custom extrusions are a key element in the solutions Con-form create, and Capral works hand in glove with the Con-form team to assist in the development of exclusive extruded sections and ensure the business receives consistent and regular supply to its regionally located manufacturing site.

For Nigel, the value of a strong partner like Capral is not limited to reliable material supply, “We get more value than a pallet of aluminium from Capral. That´s really where we´re at, and that comes back to the culture again. What can we exchange as industry colleagues between each other, rather than simply being a supplier that a truck comes in and it drops off something and you pay for it. That´s not what we´re about. We need to exchange data between ourselves so that we can grow together as industry partners.”

There have been significant changes within the Australian aluminium industry over the past 24 months as many Australian manufacturers grapple with material import issues and supply shortages not to mention turbulent aluminium pricing and LME fluctuations. These changes are significant for manufacturers like Con-form who rely heavily on their ability to procure aluminium to manufacture and satisfy customer needs in a timely fashion.

Capral’s NSW Industrial Market Manager Mark Murray works closely with the Con-form team to ensure their needs are being consistently met and they are abreast of changing industry dynamics.

con-form grab 10

“Mark came out to visit us today, and that´s always great because things are changing so fast in the industry, extremely fast. Quicker than we can almost keep up with. Mark, he´s just a wealth of knowledge so I really took that time to try and draw out a lot of things out of him that I really didn´t know, and that really helped us as a company,” says Nigel, emphasising the value of this supplier partnership for his business.

Con-form Group stands out in the market for its solution focus and as a regional Australian manufacturer using Australian materials, ingenuity and labor. But more importantly, what they nail every minute of every day is their focus on what the customer is trying to achieve rather than simply responding to an order. ʺAny roof, any pitch, any weight, anywhere,” Nigel says, “that’s our promise, we will create the solution our clients need, and we are glad to have partners like Capral to support us.”