BlueScope Steel’s
Port Kembla Steelworks is a massive industrial facility covering 800 hectares
just south of the fast-growing City of Wollongong. BlueScope Steel Limited was
formed as a company after being spun out from BHP Billiton Ltd in 2002,
originally trading as BHP Steel before being renamed as BlueScope Steel Limited
in 2003. The Port Kembla Steelworks is a vital component of BlueScope Steel and
its largest complex, and the safety and security of this site are

When you arrive
at Port Kembla Steelworks, what strikes you first is the size of the place. At
12km long, this site is truly vast – physically it’s the largest electronic
security site I’ve seen in more than 20 years. The invitation from BlueScope
Steel to meet had included a Google Earth Map attachment and on arrival I found
the satellite map was necessary. There would be no walking around this site –
it was a car tour.

The other thing
that’s immediately apparent when you arrive at Port Kembla Steelworks is that
this is a serious industrial facility and it comes with all the challenges
you’d expect to find. There’s dust, there’s molten metal spatter, there’s
intense heat, there’s heavy transport moving around – trucks and trains – and
there are massive power local sources. There are also mountainous steel
structures dotted across the landscape and that means use of wireless to handle
video communications, as you typically might on a site this size, is

Not surprisingly,
there’s significant legacy infrastructure that the technical team needed to
leverage in order to give the best possible performance without losing sight of
economy. Something else that’s important about this system is that while the
surveillance installation has a security component, a great part is dedicated
to process control and OH&S. Camera views are used by control room teams
managing the site’s steel-making plants to ensure safe and efficient operation.

“The system is a
work in progress and there are multiple interested parties needing access to
cameras. Obviously this has an impact on the way the system evolves”

The integrator
and system designer at Port Kembla Steelworks is BlueScope’s in-house
contractor – Communications Technologies & Maintenance, which is itself
part of Bluescope’s Electrical Services Department. As BlueScope’s technical
officer Martin King explains, BlueScope was also the system designer at Port
Kembla Steelworks.

“Our department
was the integrator from the point of view of BlueScope Steel,” explains King.
“The way we work is that all the different parts of the plant are
Communications Technologies & Maintenance customers and we support them
all. We can handle smaller tasks ourselves and in this case we worked with
BlueScope Information Systems department and oversaw contractors throughout the
system setup.”

According to
King, the surveillance system is continually evolving with the ultimate goal
being that authorised users will be able to look at any of the 500 cameras on
the site that are assigned to them, whether these are legacy analogue cameras,
IP cameras, or megapixel.

“The system is a
work in progress and there are multiple interested parties needing access to
cameras. Obviously this has an impact on the way the system evolves.” King
explains. “There are also technical considerations to take into account.

“For example, we
have a manager in the Basic-Oxygen Steelmaking (BOS) area who wants more
cameras in a particular location and we’re waiting to see whether senior
management decides to invest further in the IP elements of the solution before
we decide how our plans develop.”

“There are
obviously economies of scale when the infrastructure is in place but the
network investment is significant compared to analogue. It’s obviously a lot
more flexible when you can install a camera, and plug it into the network
without having to run dedicate cables but there is a trade-off in terms of cost
and convenience.”

“We also have a
video feed that crosses the site that is being used to view machinery and plant
operations up at the Spring Hill Works, which does cold rolling, painting and
finishing. It allows remote maintenance management as well.”

System layout

At the heart of
the BlueScope surveillance system is a site-wide network of fibre optic cable.
King explains that BlueScope’s use of fibre is based on the challenges of
moving video signals around on a site that uses large amounts of electrical
power and generates significant local EMI. 

“We’ve thought
about wireless links but we’ve gone with fibre optic cable because we think it
will be more reliable on a site like this with a lot of metal structures, heavy
transport and electrical fields,” King says. “Fibre insulates us from the large
voltage fluctuations across the site.”

“A fibre backbone
was rolled out across the Port Kembla Steelworks many years ago and there are
spare cores in that backbone,” King explains. “We have used those cores where
we can and in other places we have installed dedicated fibre links to support
the surveillance system.

there has been an upgrade going on of the network around the site which will
give BlueScope a new 10GB backbone,” he says. “The surveillance system is
separate to that new backbone but there are crossovers in certain areas with
part of the system able to be accessed from the production network.”

According to
King, most cameras on the site are legacy analogue and many are high-end
Panasonic but he says IP cameras have now been installed as well.

“When the system
first began to go hybrid, our BlueScope customers realised they could use the
surveillance system to give other people access to camera views and we started
thinking about the ease of installing IP cameras in order to upgrade the

“As a result we
now have some Bosch IP cameras and a few megapixel cameras for specific process
control applications.

King says that to
bring analogue signals onto the network BlueScope uses Bosch VideoJet VJ8008
8-channel encoders, as well as VIP X1s and X2s MPEG-4 encoders.

“Which path we
choose onto the network depends if it’s an existing installation or a new IP
camera,” says King. “We have racks in a cubicle for our analogue signals to
come back to – we pick the analogue signals up in the racks and get them onto
the network that way.”

“We have 123 CCTV
cameras in our own area at present – there will be 130 as we are still
expanding the system but works-wide there are more than 400 cameras looking at
process and then there are the security cameras on top of that – that’s another
100 cameras.”

BlueScope’s Paul
Risku says while the integrators mainly tried to use fibre, in some cases they
also used DSL modems on phone cable to convert signals to Ethernet to bring the
signals back to a central location using existing 2-pair copper infrastructure.

“Where we have
used fibre, the way the system design works is that we take fibre to an enclosure
as close as we can to the cameras and then run a coax drop cable from the
closet to the camera in the field,” he says.

According to
Risku the system incorporates dedicated recording servers with recording rates
ranging from 1 frame a second to 25 frames a second, depending on what’s being

“There are
servers located in network areas in the Hot Core Processing Department (HCPD),
as well as in the Coupled Pickle Cold Mill,” Risku explains. “The CPCM is the
largest area in terms of the video surveillance system. We have 4 VJ8008s down
there with 23 inputs spread across those and with more VJ8008 units going in.

“Cware is a
perfect networked solution for BlueScope. There’s a client server, there are
workstations on different parts of the LAN, everything streams and records to
servers and the various teams use their workstations to look at their own local

“All in all,
there are currently 7 servers in the network,” Risku says. “And as the system
evolves we’ll also have storage capability in production areas so if we were to
lose a network link to our main database server in our system area footage will
keep streaming to the local server so the problem won’t affect steel

Risku says that
in terms of network design there is a crossover to the main computer network at
the BOS with the network traffic is kept as local as possible to reduce load on
the servers. The main control hub for the BOS is in a central location near
No.5 Blast Furnace and there’s also a storage server there for cameras in the
BOS area.

installation, which is one of a number of primary nodes networked across the
site, is well organised with hardware installed in 19-inch racks with the
incoming analogue feeds going to the VIP and VJ8008 encoders and then on to IP
servers for network access and routing to RAID recording servers. Each rack of surveillance equipment is supported
by a 6-battery UPS.

Cware Prime

It goes without
saying that the driving force of the networked surveillance system at
BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks is Controlware’s Cware Prime Video
Management and Recording Solution. The beauty of Cware Prime, according to
Controlware Australia’s country manager, Claude Rizk, is its ability to handle
management and control of live and recorded video in a hybrid networked

Cware Prime
offers BlueScope customisable management, display, alarm, recording and
playback features in a flexible client-server architecture that allows
unlimited cameras, servers and authorised workstations across LANs and WANs.
It’s a functionality suite that’s perfect for BlueScope’s in-house integration
team and IS department.

“In terms of
system design, the guys here at BlueScope are trained on Cware and have written
the macros and the layouts for integration with alarm systems. When an alarm
comes in it accesses a camera and brings up a screen and the operator can bring
up the scene, view the area and sound sirens to warn pedestrians,” Rizk explains.

Important for a
site like this, Rizk says Cware Prime is an open system.

“It’s not
dedicated to one encoder type, or camera type,” Rizk explains. “This means that
in the future if some better device comes along BlueScope can use it – be that
something H.264, MPEG4, MPEG2, HD, megapixel or whatever, Cware will support

“All the major
brands are integrated into CWare and the BlueScope team in the future may like
a particular new product or brand and won’t have to change the software in
order to leverage the capability of the new device – they can just enable it
and the device will work.”

According to
Rizk, the BlueScope integration team benefits from their hands-on involvement
with the software installation which he says allows them to guarantee successful

“With Cware Prime
there’s an SDK so you can have your access control integrate into the system at
a high level with video surveillance,” Rizk says. “And there’s also low level
integration with I/O units that integrate into the software. It’s a combination
that gives BlueScope plenty of flexibility.” 

Rizk says that
for BlueScope it was a tough initial decision to go IP.

“The BlueScope
team weren’t sure what the networked images would look like but when they saw a
couple of sites with MPEG-2 compression they realised there was significant
flexibility and a networked solution was not just viable but superior in many
ways to analogue,” he says.

“Cware is a
perfect networked solution for BlueScope. There’s a client server, there are workstations
on different parts of the LAN, everything streams and records to servers and
the various teams use their workstations to look at their own local cameras.”

When it came to
the management and recording system selection process, BlueScope’s Paul Risku
says that before the installation started, BlueScope had been working towards a
video surveillance standard for the whole plant.

“Our group, CTM
Engineering and BlueScope’s Information Systems department all got together and
conducted a product study and the result of our in-house study was that we
chose the Cware video management and recording solution,” Risku says.

Meanwhile, King
says the initial software system has constantly evolved since the initial
installation. He explains that once Cware was installed BlueScope began to
expand the overall system but he says broader plans were stalled as the GFC hit
and it was more recently that expansion restarted.

“We’ve commenced
work on the BOS with cameras being installed in No.5 Blast Furnace,” King says.
“The network has been extended to the Sinter Plant area for process control
monitoring down there.

That initial team
effort did not end with selection of Cware Prime – various departments across
BlueScope have contributed expertise to perfect the eminently customisable
management Cware solution to the site’s specific needs.

“The Automation
Engineering Group has been a great help,” says Paul Risku. “We had a need for
some time-lapse recording on a couple of megapixel cameras and they were able
to integrate that into the software package for us.

“The Automation
Engineering Group also successfully interfaced the Cware software with
BlueScope’s mill systems which is vital from the point of view of process

“Throughout the
evolving installation process we’ve also worked with BlueScope’s IS
department,” says Risku. “IS handles all the IT work on the site and we worked
in with them when we introduced the Cware product. This was important because
there are obviously issues like bandwidth and how it will affect the wider
network, as well as network security issues.”

King agrees.

“Running video on
the general data network is challenging and that’s why we’ve got the separate
network set up to handle our video streams,” he says. “It’s a separate network with
separate fibres, though as we’ve mentioned there are crossovers to other parts
of the network.”

System monitoring
and management

Most the cameras
being viewed live are monitored for the HCPD. This includes the cameras
monitored in the control room at No.5 Blast Furnace  – that’s the control room we visit. It’s an
excellent space for the task, with plenty of cameras giving good views of the
furnace itself.

“The guys in the
control room at No.5 Blast Furnace can monitor the furnace all the time, as
well as when the furnace is being tapped,” King explains. “Cameras monitored
here are used for process monitoring primarily.

“We placed 5
individual monitors including a larger LCD screen in the control room of Number
5 Blast Furnace and the big screen displays 9 images instead of the usual 4.”

Once we’ve had a
good look at this area we head back to the BlueScope integration team’s office,
which incorporates rack-space for management and storage of footage from the
site’s security cameras. The area has workstations and equipment and doubles as
a test area where staff can set up equipment before integrating it into the
system. There’s also a management workstation here and a twenty minute
demonstration shows just how easy the system is to action.

According to
King, there are there are 6 areas in the system, with area 5 being the most
recent one.

“We can create
our own layouts for these areas using Cware in order to make overall system
management easier,” King explains.

“And before we
implement any new software into the wider system we load it into the standby
system and this allows us to adjust or change things easily before the software
gets implemented. That protects the system from commissioning failures that
might impact on production. 

“From our
workstation here we can see all the image streams for the whole plant but each
section on the site when they log in to their authorised workstations can only
see the cameras in their own area unless they have been granted access to
additional areas.”

Paul Risku says
that the design of the system makes it possible for a section to monitor
someone else’s process control cameras as well as their own, though they have
their own servers.

“From an
operational point of view the ability to see cameras from upstream and
downstream makes the system much more capable by building in a level of
monitoring redundancy in the unlikely event we have network issues or

Cware is also
capable from a network management point of view. When a camera is added to the
system, the BlueScope team can use C-ware to see the system load and distribute
that load in the most efficient way.

“We can see the
drive load and manage the 16 storage bays at the CPCM from here at our own
management workstation, as well as handling the 7 bays down here in our own
racks,” says King. “We can set camera settings, we can adjust storage settings.
At the HCPD we’ve got 4 PTZ cameras and we can operate them from here.

“You can set
different recording streams for different cameras,” King explains. “We have
some that will record for 2 months before they begin to write over and some
that are set for 91 days.”

Site challenges

This is a big and
rugged site. Along with the network challenges already mentioned, the Port
Kembla Steelworks would test the bravest camera and there’s no doubt which of
the 2 contenders would win out.

“This is a tough
environment for CCTV cameras, it’s industry, it’s dirty,” says King. “We need
robust cameras that are reliable.  We put cameras
in dangerous areas where we don’t want people such as around the blast furnaces
and that can be problematic because when the cameras need servicing someone has
to get in there and repair or replace them.

“We have cameras
above the coke making machine – this is a terrible environment for video
surveillance equipment,” King says. “Cameras simply melt through the radiant
heat – we once had a collection of Salvador Dali-ish cameras that had melted
into strange shapes.

“If they don’t
fail immediately cameras will often gradually deform and as they do the lens
will move a bit and then a bit more and finally the camera will go out of focus
and be completely useless.”

King gestures to
a camera view on Cware’s monitoring screen.

“Those sparks you
can see flying up in this area are caused by the metal being poured and
spattering out,” he says. “See the grey areas in the image? That’s metal spatter
baked onto the lens. We have cameras that over time get so spattered with cast
iron and they get locked into place. They look like they are covered in thick
dust but they are actually encased in a crust of metal. There’s no cleaning
them or repairing them – they are ruined.

“We have cameras
above the coke making machine – this is a terrible environment for video
surveillance equipment. Cameras simply melt through the radiant heat – we once
had a collection of Salvador Dali-ish cameras that had melted into strange

“Obviously, these
cameras are vital and do a job people can’t do, which is watching hot metal
being poured and moving through the mill. These capabilities are important
because you can’t go into the area while they are actually pouring metal – the
heat is fiercely intense. In areas like this we don’t clean the glass on the
cameras; we replace it because of metal spatter.

“We also use
chilled water-filled stainless steel jackets to cool cameras installed near
furnaces. In the early days we designed our own but these days we buy them

And if the heat
is not enough of a problem, many installations are external or partly external
and because Port Kembla Steelworks is adjacent to the ocean, King says most the
camera housings will eventually just fall apart from corrosion.


According to Paul
Risku, the surveillance system at BlueScope Steel is very much a work in
progress and this constant evolution is easily supported by Cware Prime.

“Obviously different
departments in BlueScope have different and changing requirements,” Risku says.
“Now we have the main infrastructure in and have installed Cware we can just
add to it – that is the beauty of this system – you can expand on it any way
you like. 

“From the point
of view of the system upgrade here it involved setting up the system server and
adding storage servers to that, interfacing cameras to encoders to the areas
that need them, whether that involves interfacing existing cameras or adding
new ones.

“Ultimately the
decision to go with Cware has been excellent. The system is capable and if we
did need something specific added, Controlware was able to incorporate that
function into the system for us.”

Meanwhile King,
who has worked at the Port Kembla site for than 30 years says the team have
just completed a full Cware system upgrade and he says the Controlware solution
is excellent, both stable and easy to work with. King’s enthusiasm for the site
and the surveillance system are readily apparent.

“People don’t
appreciate the scope of the site,” King says. “As well as its size, everything
about this facility is on a grand scale. The huge cranes here are the largest
in southern hemisphere. 

“This is a huge
operation and it’s still the heart and soul of the Illawarra region. Ensuring
the safety, security and efficiency of the Port Kembla Steelworks is serious

“It’s a quantum
leap for many people to think about going to a networked surveillance solution
using Cware and IP or megapixel cameras. People are used to using the old
analogue systems,” he explains. “But the world is moving on and you have to
move with it.”

“People don’t
appreciate the scope of the site. As well as its size, everything about this
facility is on a grand scale. This is a huge operation and it’s still the heart
and soul of the Illawarra region. Ensuring the safety, security and efficiency
of the Port Kembla Steelworks is serious business”