Concast Facility Extension, Port Talbot Steel Works

Concast Facility Extension, Port Talbot Steel Works

Structural Engineer

Rowecord Engineering Ltd

Steelwork Contractor

Rowecord Engineering Ltd

Main Contractor

Rowecord Engineering Ltd


Corus Strip Products UK

Rowecord Engineering Ltd completed this major project for Corus in December 2004. The brief required design, manufacture and erection of a total of 6,000t of structural steel in this 50m high facility covering an area of four football pitches. The project involved some very heavy members – such as structures to support 500t capacity cranes.

The project was entirely commercially driven. It was completed on time and within budget. Functional in the extreme, the project has no aesthetic ambitions. But this is a fine example of innovation, problem solving and construction project management.

The challenge was to design and build a three bay extension to the existing caster building including internal process steelwork, a new water treatment plant and move a 300t per hour conveyor. This will increase the plant’s output by some 1m tpa.

The project presented major design challenges. The nature of the existing plant prohibited conventional erection methods. Despite the large plant size and the volume of steel to be erected, the site was small. Rowecord were set a difficult task of tackling fundamental changes to a major industrial process without interrupting continuous production. As a continuously working plant, focus on safety was directed both at the needs of construction and also continuous production.

The project demonstrates the many benefits of offsite modularisation and on-site assembly of steel structures. Quality is maximised through manufacture in a fully equipped engineering workshop. Time spent on site is also minimised – meeting the needs of continuing production. Most important this makes a vital contribution to best possible health and safety management.

Alterations for new facilities demanded innovative engineering solutions. The most significant change was the removal of a key column weighing some 150t to make way for the new caster turret. Its removal presented a problem of supporting the unit’s two 500t capacity cranes.
The solution was to replace the existing 16m span crane-girders with a single 32m equivalent. This girder needed to be a 4.8m deep plate girder weighing some 120t. This “leviathan” was made in two 60t parts at Rowecord’s site in Newport, transported to site and welded together for installation.

In lieu of nine standard 30m roof trusses, erected singly and subsequently clad, Rowecord designed a solution of pairs of trusses which were fully pre-assembled to create roofing modules with all purlins and cladding fitted. This had a major logistical benefit that a roof which might have taken three weeks to build – and then subsequently clad – took a total of just five days to install.

The project involved relocating and reconfiguring a 45m high water storage tower weighing some 270t. This was lifted to its new location in one piece complete with water tanks using a 1,200t capacity crane.

The concast extension required a 30m diversion of a main materials artery, the “633 Conveyor.” This carries some 300t per hour of vital materials – a process requiring minimal interruption. With a shutdown period of just three days, a new conveyor line was created before a last moment diversion of the materials flow and then dismantling the old conveyor structures.

Judges’ Comment


This extension of the Concast facility, in a continuously working steel plant, displays a highly effective structural design which was subject to frequent design changes, with a “construction-led” philosophy.

The logistical challenge was immense on such a confined working site and with continuously evolving requirements.