2023 Quarter 1 Newsletter

Monkeytoe Autumn-Winter 2023


The weather is cooling down (and staying as wet as ever), but we’re not slowing down here at Monkeytoe.

The news dominating business headlines lately has been the confirmation of a recessionary environment. Coupled with an election year, we’re seeing a bigger shift into infrastructure and civil works across the country – so plenty of conversations about how to be in the best possible position for when spring and summer hit, and when we’re on the upswing again. 

For us, that means lots of work with local councils and primary industry to ensure that walkways and bridges are replaced (or upgraded) for when we’re all out enjoying the great outdoors. Much of Hawkes Bay and Auckland has needed extra support off the back of the cyclones (and repeated hammerings with rain) – so if you see Monkeytoe on site in those regions, be sure to give us a wave.

We’ve also talked with a lot of architects and structural engineers about how we can support their designs with the full Monkeytoe design and consult package and save them time and dollars from day dot. It might be wintery, but there’s plenty that can be done to prepare the soil for spring.


Let’s tuck in to this quarter’s update. Close to home, we’re supporting the Taranaki Base Hospital rebuild in the ways we can. With a significant financial shortfall for the much-needed upgrade, we’ve been trying to assist and fundraise with our staff: anyone can take paid days off to support the hospital and volunteer. https://taranakihealthfoundation.org.nz/



Read on and you can find out more about what’s going on with Monkeytoe around the country. This quarter, we’re spending a lot of time in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Southland. For one, we’ve contributed to the new Invercargill CBD project led by Amalgamated Builders with about half a kilometre of accessways (among other bits and pieces, of course). We’ve also been in Mataura, about an hour north of Invercargill, replacing their ageing access to their wastewater treatment and maintenance facilities with solutions that’ll handle whatever the region throws at them. 

From the deep south up to the north, we also spotlight the colossus that is the new Cardinal Logistics building in Drury South (just a fraction below Auckland), with a footprint over three and a half hectares. So why didn’t we just throw a 24m ladder in to provide roof access and call it a day? You’ll just have to read on to find out.

This quarter is also a chance to hear from Jamieson Prestige – who first made an appearance in a newsletter in 2022. He’s in a new role, and very keen to talk about life as a design and engineering consultant, where he fits in the process, and the part he’s played in some cool projects across the country.


So head on into our latest update. There’s plenty to shout about..



Safter Access For Alliance Mataura

Alliance Group is an important part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s red meat story. Since starting up in 1948 (as Alliance Freezing Company), they’ve been procuring, processing and marketing world-class red meat products (your classic lamb, beef and venison) to more than 65 countries.

Their Mataura plant in Southland, about an hour’s drive from Invercargill, needed some help. The processing of meat and meat by-products demands a lot of water, and nearly all of that water has high amounts of nutrients and animal-based compounds. Managing that wastewater is an ongoing challenge, and requires regular inspections and care to prevent it from becoming an issue. Fortunately, Monkeytoe were at hand to help them out the best way we could – with smarter, safer access solutions that would stand the test of time.

The existing solution was old and in need of care; it didn’t provide any fall protection for their daily checks and management. After taking some detailed site measurements, we completed structural drawings and proposed our solution: aluminium walkways, ladders and stairs that could be integrated into their existing facilities, reaching between major water feed tanks and providing safe and efficient access for the Mataura staff.

We believe this is an untapped opportunity for many operations. Rather than having to redesign buildings or alter how a business works, instead we’re able to fit new solutions to older structures with minimal interference or interruption – thereby saving costs and time, and ensuring that business can move forward better than before. 

Beig in the deep south and a relatively remote location, this project presented its challenges including working at height and above water. But it’s nothing our team can’t handle and, with some careful planning, we smashed out this job with a turnkey solution.






Jamieson Prestidge

On Life as a Monkeytoe Design & Engineering Consultant.


Jamieson Prestige joined the Monkeytoe team back in 2022 as a Specification Team Leader, but a lot’s changed in the last 18 months. For one, Jamieson’s found his home in our new division as a Design and

Engineering Consultant. So what’s it like being in this role, and what can we expect from our consultants in the pursuit of better, bolder designs and projects across our fine country? And does he still get time to tramp up Taranaki and play a half-dozen musical instruments?


When I was a Specifications Team Leader, my job would be early on in the relationships with our architect and designer clients – helping them work through everything from compliance and consents, all the way to the drawing up of plans.

While I’m still in that part of Monkeytoe, I’ve graduated to a new role as Design and Engineering Consultant – still managing the early stage of designs, but doing more pre-engagement.


Consultants are often the first or second port of call for our clients..

We’re answering questions that engineers, local council reps, and architects might have, putting together fee proposals, setting up initial meetings, providing technical documents, and making sure that Monkeytoe has what it takes to meet our clients’ needs. And yes, we usually do. 

In most cases, we can utilise an existing design or component to solve a client’s access challenge; our established accessways, stairs, ladders and platforms can fit most projects with ease. Existing designs tend to be faster for us to manufacture and easier to fit into a project, which is why they’re the favourite of many of our clients. Quicker manufacture and install also means lower costs for a project – and that’s a big benefit, especially when a project’s otherwise been held up with consents. But we’ve also got the custom design route for anything out of the ordinary – and that takes care of everyone else.

What I tend to spend most of my time doing is putting together things like fee proposals and indicative designs so that our clients can get sign-off. And once that’s been approved, then it’s on to a handover meeting with the project managers and the clients.

Having said that, we like to keep track of projects as they develop and move towards the next stages (the ones that include things like engineering documents, confirmed designs, and eventually PS1s and the fit-outs). For us, it’s important to see how a project evolves and to make sure that there aren’t any unanswered questions. If the goal is to make a project as simple and easy as possible, then it pays for us to keep the lines of communication open. 


Working on cool projects..

I’ve only been part of Monkeytoe for 18 months, but I’ve already seen some amazing projects over this time. A lot of the cool ones are still ongoing, and many are confidential too, so I can’t say much here.

One project has involved 32x 16m bridges – a massive project that’s taken a lot of time, and had its share of engineering complexities. Because of the timeframes, the full order needed to be delivered in one job, which made a busy time for our engineers and design managers (who were also all involved from the start). Seeing that design come through has been really rewarding, too – and once it’s wrapped up, it’ll be an impressive sight.

Another project has involved floating pontoons and a 25+m gangway. In this case, a civil contractor came to us for this project; they were asked to take care of the pontoon, civil works, and anything else surrounding it. With a project like this, it takes a lot of moving parts – so the fewer subcontractors that they approach, the better it is for them. And that’s why they came to us: because we can do it all for and with them.

In this harbour project, we priced an aluminium design with some nice Australian hardwood for the decking. They were quite strict with their design, but we were able to take it and make some efficiencies that you just can’t achieve with steel. It was a tight timeframe for turnaround, but it was great to see how our talented structural engineers and designers could bring this project together.


Everything better..

We always recommend taking advantage of Monkeytoe’s full design and engineering package, since we can economise on things; we can make it efficient, because we can do so much in-house. Plus, we have specialists in various fields within the company, so we know how to not over-engineer a solution. Plus, as we quote, we can go for design and manufacture, or add on the install component, and that can save time and stress for the fit-out.

We like to think of this in terms of ‘de-risking’ a project. Because we do everything from design to engineering to install, including PS1, our clients can breathe a bit easier knowing that it’s under control and that they’re coordinating one team, not four separate subcontractors.

There’s something really satisfying about working on a project and knowing that you’ve done your part to make it a success – even if it takes a year or so to see it to completion. Supporting designers, and helping our clients with the right information at the right time, is very much what we do well in our team, so we’ll keep doing that as long as we can.




Logan Klenner

Logan Klenner isn’t just ‘the father of the XBEAM’ – he’s also now overseeing four of Monkeytoe’s departments as Product Development Manager, including our Design, Engineering and Design Automation divisions. The diversity of his roles certainly keeps him busy – and helps Monkeytoe keep a finger on the pulse of innovation.

For most of our clients, efficiency is the thing they want the most. That can often mean efficiency in terms of cost, but the cost on the day is only a small part of the bigger picture (something we’ve talked about before in our ebooks and in previous updates). So we’re also tasked with identifying ways that we can be more efficient with time, or simplify procedures, or reduce risks on and off site. Ideally, all of the above – and more. That’s where our innovation teams come in, and how Monkeytoe sets itself apart.

That’s why we have so many of our departments working towards common goals here at Monkeytoe: we want to innovate across design, manufacturing, install, and the lifetime of each of our products and they ways they’re used so that they’re working to suit our clients, and push the industry forward in a way that makes life a bit easier for everyone.


A future of off-site works 

If you’re in the industry, then you know that de-risking is big. A simpler, more efficient product that takes less time to install on the day – and is less complex in terms of ongoing maintenance – should win out every day, since it takes a lot of stress off a project and ensures that the whole process can be completed faster and more safely.

That’s why we can expect a lot more works done off-site in the future. Off-site works are still in the early stages here, but there’s huge room to take advantage of them and make building and engineering more efficient. Anyone who’s had a Monkeytoe platform delivered, assembled, then craned on site, will know what we mean: we can cut a week-long install (with hot works) into a single day’s work, and get out of the way so the rest of the project can move forward.

Getting components and modules built off-site and delivered complete (or near offer) means that health and safety is much simpler (since it then falls on the external company); controlled environments, and specialised tools and people in workshops can get better outcomes without trampling over other tradies’ feet. It also reduces costs, since the labour component is managed differently. Products still have to be adjustable to work with changes or variations on site, but that’s part of great design and where innovations can really lead.

More modular, off-site work will present some new challenges, of course. Freighting costs will be greater, but this is hugely outweighed by the reduced time, labour and health and safety resources on site; and our infrastructure will need extra support to handle more heavy vehicles. Australia is ahead of us in that way, with more trains and highways, but there is a huge push for this kind of work – and the advantages are definitely there.


How we stack up internationally 

We’re known as being an innovative bunch here. We’re always looking for cheaper, easier and more convenient ways of doing things. But we also tend to default to the low-tech, #8 wire options. Compared with Europe and North America, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

Imagine if we adopted more technology to automate parts of projects. As a general rule, that means more accuracy and more efficiency, while also freeing up people to do more meaningful work. But machinery requires significant capital investment – and as a smaller country, we don’t always have the major projects available that demand the major investments, and we tend to take longer to make the call as to whether we go ahead with them. Again, these are challenges. But ones that we can rise to.

Beyond size, there are other ways that can see us adopt new technologies to create new solutions. For example, I was recently looking at friction stir welding and laser welding, and how they might be applied to our aluminium solutions to reduce the loss of strength that occurs during traditional welding of aluminium. Both solutions are incredible, generally safer, and could help us discover new ways of designing and engineering structures – but they’re also not really done in this country, so someone has to invest in them at scale here to make them viable.

We should also look towards more standardisation and mass manufacturing, since these simplify design and build for everyone from architects to designers, builders and our end users. Mass production is the way of the future, and our industries would do well to take advantage of standardised elements to reduce costs, time and energy. 

Sustainability will only be more important in the future, so there’s also a big push to find reliable, renewable sources of materials e.g. for fibre-reinforced polymers that go beyond carbon fibre or fibreglass – and aren’t priced so that it’s just NASA or the US Air Force that can afford them.  Our innovative spirit can see us lead in these industries, if we’re prepared to take risks, try something bold when the numbers back it, and push for something bigger.


It’s not just ‘innovation for the sake of being different’ 

At Monkeytoe, we like to look at everything from different perspectives – and that’s why we have four departments working together across design, automation and engineering: so that we can ensure that we’re not just making what we think is cool, but will actually address our clients’ needs. That goes from design to manufacturing to install to the lifetime of that product, and making sure that we can be better than standard across all of those aspects. 

We’re striving for designs that look good on paper, sure, but that also give you more floor space, broader applications, easier maintenance, and so on. It’s an ethos that’s served us well so far – and we hope makes a real difference. 





Amalgamated Builders lead the Invercargill CBD Project

Southland has been awash with excitement since 2021, when Invercargill’s $180 million city block development was first announced. The process, split into stages, saw its first opening in 2022, with a ceremony that included a blessing by kaumātua Michael Skerrett and a ribbon-cutting by Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.

We had our hand in the project too, of course. Monkeytoe were brought in to provide long-lasting, high quality access solutions across the roofing space – in particular, access to the roof, plant equipment, HVAC and internal gutters, and so forth. In total, it amounted to about half a kilometre of walkways and platforms, and a lot of distance covered by step ladders, some small platforms and 17 access stairs. 

This was a fast-moving project down in the deep south, which was another project some distance from our base in mighty Taranaki. But with some careful planning and a bit of foresight, we were able to execute on time. 

But it’s not just us who think we did a stand-up job. Just listen to this feedback from Charles Ulmer at Amalgamated Builders, who spearheaded this project and delivered an incredible new precinct for Invercargill. 





Haydn & Rollett leads new Cardinal Logistics Project

Imagine a building around 90m wide and 240m long, towering 10 stories over Drury in south Auckland, plus an additional breezeway that’s a further 51m and runs the length of the building, and an additional admin building, and you’ve just started to get an idea of the colossal Cardinal Logistics building that will provide a hub for storing and transporting goods across the world.

The $250 million project has been underway for a couple of years now, with Monkeytoe being engaged last year by Hayden Rollett to support with our access solutions.

This is a remarkable building, and not least because of its size. And it’s not just a warehouse for goods, either. It’s an automated, future-proofed logistics hub, utilising machinery to go where humans can’t (or shouldn’t).

The Cardinal Logistics Drury South operation is part of much wider growth in that region, and represents Auckland’s expansion – with a school and train station, and plans for a Kiwi Property mall to go in closer to the residential areas. We are proud at Monkeytoe to be a small part of that, and do what we can do best to ensure that this part stands the test of time.

If you’re familiar with that part of our stunning country, then you’ll know that the development of an open space like this comes with some fresh challenges, like wind and weather loading that you might not experience in a hilly or built-up region. We’ve had plenty of experience preparing for wind loading (it’s a high priority on coastal regions, and for the Australian contingent of Monkeytoe), so we were easily able to design with this in mind.

But such a huge building comes with other challenges too – especially since it has to be safe for people. With any building, there needs to be roof access – and while we could make a ladder 24m high, that wouldn’t be practical for anyone that’s not an elite athlete. (Try climbing six to nine metres without puffing out!) And even then, accidents happen – which we at Monkeytoe want to avoid for everyone’s sake.

So instead of a huge ladder, or a series of ladders with landings, we instead recommended a staircase – which Cardinal Logistics and Hayden Rollett agreed with. With 10 landings, and a width that can handle two or three people abreast, staff can easily and safely get to the roof even while carrying equipment, and much more safely too.


We leaned into our other strengths with this project also, providing a cantilevered walkway, and a short ladder to reach the canopy roof. There’s plenty of future allowance for HVAC and platforms too, so watch this space.









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