As a young boy, Dean Gagliardi’s parents would tell him how they had first worked – and met – beneath the larger-than-life soup can that is overlooking the Campbell Soup Company’s Lemnos site in Shepparton, VIC. His migrant Italian parents also told him and his siblings that the soup can was where children came from!
Standing in its looming shadow then, Dean, who is now Programmed Property Service’s Branch Manager in Shepparton, would never have guessed that he would be integral in ensuring the enduring image and allure of the iconic soup can – not just once, but twice.
Actually erected as a water tank in the 1960’s to supply the Campbell’s production facility with water, in addition to being a reservoir that could be called upon in case of fire, the towering structure is still in use today.
Uniquely, it not only bears the famous mien of a Campbell’s soup can but also proportionately replicates the dimensions of an actual can.
Campbell’s entrusted Programmed – and Dean — with the responsibility of the tank’s restoration, which has extended its lifespan by at least another 10 years.
It is the third restoration Programmed has conducted on the soup can in as many decades.
Sitting on towers that are 35 meters high, the giant can is 10 metres tall with a six-metre diameter and holds 282,000 litres (62,000 gallons) of water.
These gargantuan measurements meant that while all actual restoration work was completed in a two-week time frame, one year’s prior planning was integral to ensure key quality and safety requirements.
“Despite our having worked on the tank twice already, we still wanted to approach the project with new eyes for technical and safety reasons or improvements. Especially since work would be conducted in such a confined space and at such heights,” said Dean, who also worked on the tank’s restoration in 2002.
Programmed utilised environmentally friendly methods such as high water blasting and made certain of a combination of harnesses, cages and on-the-ground spotters for safe work.
To repaint the heritage-listed tank’s exterior in its signature deep red patina, a 50-metre crane hoisted painters and the materials needed to as high up as 45 metres off the ground. This also enabled the painters to safely apply gold leafing to reinvigorate the Campbell emblem in the centre.
As part of the safety and quality planning, internal inspections were conducted to ascertain the condition of the tank lining and its structural soundness. Identifying the best method of approach included nominating specialist scaffolding and assembling the right team of crane operators and painters for the job. Everyone involved underwent mandatory intensive safety and environmental inductions prior to works commencing. This despite them already being experienced experts in their areas.
Local Emergency Services were included throughout the planning stages, kept abreast of how works would be carried out inside the tank and on standby during the restoration in case a rescue was required.
“The Campbell’s water tank is instantly recognisable in Shepparton. Growing up, it was always a prominent fixture and the family connection gave it personal significance. So it means a lot to be able to help maintain its charm,” Dean said.
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