SOTO Consulting Engineers were approached by Australia’s largest steelmaker, BlueScope, to redesign a metal coating line robot sample table for their Springhill works plant. The Springhill facility executes metallic coating and painting with the use of a coupled pickle cold mill (990kt), three metallic coating lines (825kt), paint lines (200kt), and other finishing processes. BlueScope is renowned for the value-added metallic coated and painted steel solutions produced by the works at the Springhill plant. It was important to the organisation that this reputation be upheld and further improved, by consulting with materials handling specialists, designers and draftsmen at SOTO Consulting Engineers.

Initial Scope:

The existing sample removal process, called to be upgraded by SOTO Engineers, required a manual operation of heavy and hazardous labour. Once a sample was taken from the strip, an operator would approach the shear and manually remove individual strip samples to be collected for internal testing. Upgrading this equipment and refining this process required a comprehensive redesign by SOTO Engineers. This redesign was to involve an initial conversion of the table to a conceptual model and robust 3D representation before then producing 2D fabrication drawings along with general arrangement drawings to depict the necessary assembly and installation procedure.


To eliminate the risk involved with manual handling in the shear area, the solution proposed by SOTO Engineers was to design an automated sample removal system as described above, comprising of a sample table and a robot. This improved configuration functions at greater efficiency so that when a sample is taken from the shear, the robot moves from its resting position over the guarded table to the shear, lifts the sample, and then transfers it to a collection area. During this operation, multiple samples are stacked for later. In addition to this, newly designed automated gates operating at the sample collection area and the coil removal location further reduce manual handling operations to close a seamless and effectual sample removal process.

3d model of robot steel handling

SOTO’s redesign improved safety by reducing manual handling of heavy materials


The upgrade of this BlueScope Steel metal coating line robot sample table at the Springhill plant to an automated sample removal system was so successful it led to a second robot sample table being designed and installed on a metal coating line within the plant. SOTO Consulting Engineers are thrilled to have contributed to improving the safety and efficiency of an already world-class steel-making facility.

Contact SOTO Consulting Engineers to analyse your manufacturing plant for opportunities to increase efficiency, improve safety and reduce manual handling.

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