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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 6

I Construction During The Settlement Years

II The Use Of Timber As A Structural Material

III Structural Steel

IV Concrete Technology

V Housing

VI Industrialised Pre-cast Concrete Housing

VII Ports And Harbours

VIII Roads

IX Heavy Foundations

X Bridges

XI Sewerage

XII Water Engineering

XIII Railways

XIV Major Buildings

XV Airports

XVI Thermal Power Stations

XVII Materials Handling
i For grain:
ii For salt:
iii For sugar
iv For iron ore
v For coal
vi For bauxite:
vii For alumina:
viii For cement:

XVIII Oil Industry

XIX The Snowy Mountains Scheme

XX The Sydney Opera House

XXI The Sydney Harbour Bridge

XXII Hamersley Iron

XXIII North West Shelf

Sources and References


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Materials Handling

The art or science of materials handling has, throughout history, paralleled man's economic progress and the material aspects of the growth in his quality of life. During the period of the European presence in Australia this has been particularly so. That period covers from the time when the movement of most materials depended on the wind and on muscle power of man or beast until today, when Australia benefits from some of the most sophisticated handling techniques in use by man anywhere.

The cost of many materials germaine to man's socio-economic status is more closely related to the cost of handling it in quantity than to its intrinsic value. Man in Australia has graduated from often being 'below the salt', because it was rare and expensive, to today observing mountains of it stockpiled on our west coast due almost entirely to more sophisticated handling techniques. The basic production process -evaporative concentration from sea water in sunlight -has remained unchanged.

Australia's economic growth has been based on exports. It is a leading exporter of grain, salt, sugar, coal, mineral sands, iron ore, bauxite, alumina and primary metals, including nickel, zinc, aluminium and copper. The growth of these export industries has been due to an accumulation of many skills, of which a most significant one has been efficiency in handling the materials from farm or mine to processing, and storage to the export port and loading onto the ships carrying the product away from our island nation. Such export products compete on an open world market, and the material handling costs, particularly for Australia, with its high cost of labour and its export ports so often remote from the farm and mine, have demanded the compensating features of large scale operation and minimum per unit handling costs in order to make the products cost competitive. Australian technology has met this demand, learning from overseas but often adopting, modifying and developing the older techniques. Handling plant in this country has been constructed the equal of and very often superior to any in the world in cost efficiency.

The following examples, in Australia, of major material handling units matching in size and efficiency the best available, indicate the top edge of the country's technical achievements in the material handling field.

People in Bright Sparcs - Peacock, E. E.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 408 - 409, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher