We recently spent a day with the Airmaster technicians charged with the task of looking after the air conditioning of Australia’s largest shopping centre.
Spanning a retail area of over 145,000m² – and soon to be almost 180,000m² with the current $580 million expansion due for completion by 2018 – Chadstone shopping centre is a massive site.
Since it opened in 1960 to become the first self-contained regional shopping centre in Melbourne, Chadstone shopping centre has now undergone 40 stages of development and redevelopment.
As you can imagine, a site like this is a complex one from a HVAC point of view. It features a range of equipment of varying type and age that services mall areas of the complex as well as individual tenancies.
For this reason, an intimate knowledge of the site and its mechanical services is integral if you want to manage it effectively. And that’s the case with Airmaster Australia, who has provided air conditioning and lighting maintenance at Chadstone since 1987.
A team of three senior technicians are based permanently on-site, and are supported by Airmaster’s Victorian maintenance and service team.
On a typical autumn weekday in Melbourne, I visited see what a typical day entailed for the technicians looking after one of the southern hemisphere’s largest shopping centres.
After battling the traffic snarls that frequent the nearby Monash Freeway on a weekday, I arrive at Chadstone and head straight to centre management for a health and safety induction.
I had then organised to meet the Airmaster crew at their dedicated office and control room in the bowels of the centre. At one point in time, it would have been centrally located but as Chadstone has grown in size, it can now be a long walk to any point of the centre.
Inside, I find the technicians at their laptops. Surprisingly, not much coffee is being drunk for this time of day, and the chatter is at a minimum.
The room includes three desks. Laminated mechanical services drawings and site plans adorn the walls – as do posters of their favourite football teams.
Christian Stirling, team leader for Airmaster at Chadstone, has worked on the site for 15 years – having cut his teeth there as an apprentice.
He says a normal day generally begins at 8am. When on-call, some days might start earlier if urgent works are being undertaken or something’s happened overnight.
The three review their emails and appointments for the day. A major talking point is a scheduled fire safety meeting with centre management that both Stirling and HVAC technician, Aaron McConnell, will attend with their account manager, Ricky Seehaber.
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