Home > Case Study: Extremely fast blast furnace refurbishment at Port Kembla

Case Study: Extremely fast blast furnace refurbishment at Port Kembla

article image Soto engineers worked on the refurbishment of Port Kembla’s No. 5 blast furnace

Soto Consulting Group worked with BlueScope and local construction companies from NSW’s Illawarra region to successfully complete the refurbishment of Port Kembla’s No. 5 blast furnace.

An example of how local teamwork can expedite major projects in Australian heavy industry, the collaboration was able to achieve an efficient outcome during BlueScope’s planned shutdowns. The close partnership between Soto engineers and the BlueScope team was particularly a major factor in the smooth conduct of the stave replacement process.

Managing Director Mr Frank Soto explained that all the critical repairs were done efficiently over a period of 80 weeks with the Soto team approaching the job with engineering intelligence and in full consultation with the client.

According to Mr Soto, the chosen method of repair had already been proven in Germany and Japan and the BlueScope teams were in constant contact with them as well as the Soto engineers.

Given that every blast furnace is different in age and capacity, and this being the first time the refurbishment process was being carried out in Australia, it was remarkable that the work on the staves was done while the furnace was still ‘live’ with the old staves pulled out and immediately replaced with new ones.

Soto Consulting Engineers provided all the temporary works associated with the changeout of the staves. Having access to a dedicated in-house team of multi-disciplined design engineers with steel industry experience helped BlueScope overcome the challenges of working in the confined and hot areas of the blast furnace.

The Soto team offered several competitive advantages in this type of engineering work including a close relationship with BlueScope’s technical teams and management; local knowledge and expertise in blast furnace and steel operations; construction experience and working to deadlines; leading edge advanced analysis methods in engineering; innovation in design applications; key people with specialist competencies; and proximity to the plant as well as on-site and off-site support for the project.

Soto Consulting Engineers also designed the facility’s emergency plan to tap and drain the furnace, ready for any eventuality.

The refurbishment has added years to the campaign life of the blast furnace and restored the facility to a condition that will ensure continuous, reliable operation for a further 15 to 20 years.

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