BlueScope Steel (Australia) set up their first Colorbond paintline facility in 1966 at Port Kembla. With demand pushing capacity limits in 2003, the company decided to locate a new plant at Erskine Park in Sydney, as the city’s western region had become the single biggest consumer of Colorbond products in Australia. An internal feasibility group to determine capital expenditure was set up in 2004. This group knew first hand many of the problems that might be encountered during construction and commissioning of a greenfield paint plant and undertook a 12-month feasibility study, focusing on reducing these problems, for submission to the BlueScope Board.
The team took the step of reviewing process instrumentation suppliers during their conceptual stage, and they decided to future-proof their new plant by implementing PROFIBUS fieldbus technology throughout the project. The plant comprises a paintline facility producing 120,000 tonnes per annum; a wastewater treatment plant; a regenerative thermal oxidizer (for almost zero gas emission), a significant rainwater capture and re-use system with total capacity in excess 800,000 litres, and cooling towers.
Although the spend on instrumentation is relatively small compared with the overall project cost, the team acknowledged that having accurate and reliable process data is critically important if the process plant is to function efficiently. BlueScope had a preferred instrumentation vendor list, where Endress+Hauser had the broadest range of products, the highest level of PROFIBUS competence, and a worldwide presence.
A range of Endress+Hauser instrumentation linked by PROFIBUS PA networks was used for the measurement and control processes. The instruments include magnetic and vortex flow meters and flow switches, temperature switches, sensors and thermocouples, pressure and differential pressure transmitters, radar and guided microwave level products, analytical products including pH and conductivity sensors. All the devices are linked by PROFIBUS PA technology to the plant’s automation system - supplied by Rockwell - via a Prosoft interface.
The first Colorbond product was painted on 15 August 2007, approximately 20 months after construction started PROFIBUS technology has provided BlueScope with the data needed to make better management decisions over the long-term, and provide flexibility for future expansion including the Web based Asset Management tool such as Fieldcare. If implemented, this will allow BlueScope to diagnose the health of, and monitor the performance of, their process instruments as well as make all the manuals, certificates, spare parts lists available online.