Gold Coast Timbers & Trusses is keeping pace with customers’ demands for ever-evolving and challenging designs.

A recent undertaking for a Gold Coast private school saw Gold Coast Timbers & Trusses (GCTT) meet a challenging project head-on. This job – with its complicated curves in the trusses to achieve an arc while still being able to get webs in – was a far cry from the company’s early days, starting up in 1990 as a small family owned and operated facility. But the team has been keeping pace with change to become one of Queensland’s leading quality truss and frame manufacturers.

John Harle, installation manager at GCTT, says while the company’s core business is  pre-nailed frames, floor trusses and roof trusses for residential housing and units, a large proportion of the annual turnover is made up  of commercial work – such as schools,  nursing homes, and community centres.  The commercial work brings about its own set of challenges, he says.

“Detailing of the structure and coordination with consultants and various trades – for instance architects, engineers, mechanical, hydraulics, custom acoustic ceilings, concreters, block layers, structural steel and fire – can be a very time-consuming and testing period.

“It’s why a lot of high volume truss and frame plants can be hesitant in taking on this style of work. However, GCTT has some extremely capable detailing and manufacturing staff, and seeing the completed product is very rewarding.”

The downside of complex structures, however, is that often the most challenging projects to detail and coordinate with consultants can be the least unassuming to look  at when completed, Harle says.

“But on the other hand,” he says, “some projects which appear quite complicated can in fact, with the advancements in design software in recent years, be easier to design than ever before.”

The trade-off here, he says, is that the bigger and apparently more complicated jobs can be quite a challenge for production and transport.

“We have undertaken a large number of projects that have been a manufacturing and logistical nightmare, such as one-piece roof trusses of 25m long and 5.0m high, and floor trusses up to 17m,” Harle says.

“Delivering and installing these huge jobs presents a unique set of challenges that at times can be stressful for those involved, but rewarding once complete. Organising such things as yard handling, transport, police escorts, traffic control, pilot vehicles, meeting cranes and site access certainly keeps life interesting.”

Each truss for the local school project, for instance, were 12m span-bolted trusses with webs and chords made up of 250mm x75mm F22 grey Ironbark, with the hot- dip galvanised plates and brackets alone weighing just under one tonne for each truss.

When it comes to favourite assignments, Harle admits to “getting a kick out of supplying townhouse projects in tight time-frames”.

“We are a relatively small frame and  truss plant, so completely supplying 60 double-storey townhouses in four weeks, along with our normal frame and truss production, gets the business buzzing!” he says. “Other projects we enjoy are nursing homes, and these also require careful scheduling with regard to transport and installation while not disrupting normal domestic house frame and truss production.”

Doubling their sawing capacity with two linear saws has enabled GCTT to maintain its production efficiencies.

“This totally transformed our business,” Harle says. “Prior to this we tended to wait on sawing for our pre-nail and truss lines, but this is now resolved.”

Truss and frame production has certainly grown from its cottage industry roots of the 1980s into a state-of-the-art industry, using innovative technologies and practices, and is continually evolving. And GCTT is on the front foot, eager to stay on board the automation train.

“Without a doubt, automation in all facets of the business is obvious and inevitable,” Harle says. “It is really exciting and we are eager to embrace it.  We’re keeping a very close eye on advancements.

“The benefits of constantly evolving in this way will have a knock-on effect on health and safety, streamlined production, quality control and increased profitability for the shareholders, as well as better job security for workers.

“With the potential to take on four, five and six -storey lightweight timber framed construction and more panelised opportunities there are definitely exciting times ahead.”