From startup to shutdown, the ACOM Group is a project delivery dream team

When your company identity leads with the word “absolute,” you’d better have the expertise, confidence, and nerve to back it up. For ACOM Group, stepping up to that declaration is a breeze. The company’s acronym stands for Absolute Commissioning Operations and Maintenance, and we recently connected with the group’s managing director, Matthew McDonnell, to learn about what makes them a rising project delivery star.

“We partner with our clients to deliver their business ambition,” McDonnell declared. “Their problem becomes our problem until we collectively collaborate to implement a strategic plan. Our clients depend on our vertical depth of experience and diversity of people, and because we are transparent we are fortunate to have repetitive works. There is no better advertising than delivering for your clients time and time again.”

ACOM is very nearly brand new, not that you’d know that from their already robust project portfolio. Established in September 2019, the group specialises in providing mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation solutions for the infrastructure, energy, and mining industries. In addition to McDonnell, founders include Executive Director John Hitchens, Operations Director Jason Robinson, and Technical Director Andrew Treble.

As a project delivery partner from the precommissioning stages through to operations and the entire lifecycle of major construction schemes, ACOM boasts a team of superior engineers, technicians, and experts with the expertise and ingenuity to meet clients’ stratospheric expectations.

“Our processes and systems are versatile and can be adapted to road and rail infrastructure, energy, mining, and the resource sectors.” McDonnell said. At the beginning of each project, the team develops acceptance criteria for each portion of the project, which are then rolled into a completions system used to coordinate procurement, track construction and precommissioning activities, and to meet all mandatory regulations and site specifications. All of the equipment to be used is then commissioned prior to operation.

“Managing a comprehensive completions system ensures that accurate and precise information is reported daily. It provides the client with information at the ease of a dashboard to accurately forecast finances and ensure project completion schedules are met and that they align with stakeholder expectations,” he added.

“We supply a team of highly competent, dedicated, multidisciplinary professionals that can undertake the full spectrum of commissioning works, whether it’s testing a high voltage switch room in an underground motorway, or performing a nitrogen helium leak test on a remote oil and gas site,” he revealed.

“No matter what the challenge is, our experienced team will develop a comprehensive commissioning management plan that includes safety protocol, quality checks, inspections, test plans, work instructions, and performance records. All this information is documented, prepared, and executed at the field level to ensure the clients asset meets the design criteria. Our team is empowered and supported to find distinctive solutions for the assets that do not meet the design criteria and to deliver desired outcomes.”

When it comes to operations, ACOM seamlessly executes the transition from commissioning to the everyday. Said McDonnell, “Our team is well versed in a range of industries with both new and aged assets. Our proven systems and processes, combined with our skilled teams, ensure the safety of everyone involved in the project as well as the safety of the community by operating in a safe, reliable, and responsible manner.

“Knowing how to commission and operate assets makes us the best choice for maintaining assets intelligently and to the highest possible standards,” he stressed. “We understand what clients want from their assets at every stage of its life cycle and recognise that increasing efficiency and minimising cost is a key element of any business. We work with our clients to innovate new ways to maintain assets, minimising the downtime of plant, equipment, and infrastructure.”

Making the impossible possible

ACOM exists to solve problems others can’t, a mandate they apply to their own in-house workings. When the group sought a better way to manage permitting and track project specifics more efficiently, they developed a proprietary internal system, ACOMpletions, to simplify workflow and effectively streamline a paperwork-heavy set of processes.

“Our system incorporates every phase of a project, from design/asset procurement, tracks the construction and commissioning phase, to the time when the asset has served its purpose and is taken out of commission or retired. It’s a game-changer for major projects,” McDonnell explained.

“Historically, major projects get so bogged down in paper that processes normally get convoluted. The all-purpose ACOMpletions platform utilises livestream data to display actual metrics in a user friendly dashboard that gives the client updates on every phase of the project, from the procurement status or initial factory test results of the procured assets, to how many meters of cable an electrical contractor has installed for that shift.

“Also, as the commissioning team is putting assets into service, the permit to work system can safely identify each area and determine if they need to isolate equipment for a construction activity to take place. That client can see the entire project on their live dashboard, track progress, accountability, and—most importantly—time and money.”

ACOMpletions is also providing state-of-the-art safe systems of work, supporting the group’s dedication to absolute safety. “We provide permit to work solutions to manage the construction-to-commissioning phase of the project, and allow the teams to work safely in the same area. We also have the capability to transition into the operations phase. Our dedicated team of permit to work managers, permit control officers, high voltage operators, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation isolators are highly experienced, and we have an exemplary track record. We just completed a project delivering over 5,000 permits and over 20,000 assets safely energised.”

As we went to press, the firm had just obtained ISO accreditations for Occupational Health and Safety AS/NZS 4801, Environmental Management Systems ISO 14001, and Quality Management Systems ISO 9001.

“We believe in setting a reputable culture based on our core values of safety, dependability, accountability, integrity, and respect,” he added. “Our culture is what makes us stand out from our competitors. We believe in recognition and reward for our people who represent our core values either onsite, with our clients or in local communities.”

A key aspect of ACOM’s commitment to the community comes through their relationships with Indigenous people. “We believe in building relationships with Indigenous communities by partnering with like-minded subcontractors, and ensuring that our policies respect Australia’s unique Indigenous heritage,” he pointed out.

“We have been able to assist and provide benefits to various Indigenous businesses around the nation with a few simple tweaks to the way we conduct our day-to-day business. Something as simple as where we buy our employees uniforms and PPE from, or where we buy certain tooling and stationery from. This can all be brought from Indigenous-owned businesses and you don’t have to go to the major players to get good service. Supply Nation has been instrumental to this and allows us to search for various Indigenous businesses that we never knew existed!”

McDonnell is a champion for everyone involved in making the ambitious startup a success. “I’d like to thank our clients for the ongoing trust and support, our suppliers for going above and beyond call of duty, our employees for changing the way projects are being delivered—coming up with innovative ideas and solutions and doing it all in a safe and practical manner—and finally my business partners and our families for all their dedication and hard work in making the ACOM Group dream alive,” he said. Is ACOM awesome? Absolutely.