20230203 142120 LR

Location: Whyalla SA

Company: Liberty Primary Steel

Industry: Steel manufacturing



Located in Whyalla, South Australia, approximately 400 kilometres northwest of Adelaide, Liberty Primary Steel is an integrated steelworks that uses mainly magnetite iron ore-based feed sourced from iron ore mines in the region. It is Australia’s largest manufacturer of high-quality hot rolled structural, steel rails and rail products, as well as semi-finished steel products supplied to Australian and international steel manufacturers.

The team from Liberty Primary Steel needed a new ‘dummy bar chain’ manufactured. A key component of the company’s combination caster used to manufacture steel, the ‘dummy bar chain’ is a large mechanical assembly that starts every sequence of the casting machine.

Liberty’s previous ‘dummy bar chain’, which was manufactured offshore, had not lasted as long as expected. So Mechanical Engineer, James Tarr from Liberty was keen to include several local companies on the tender list for the manufacturing of the replacement.

Leussink had undertaken work previously for Liberty Primary Steel about ten years earlier and the components had lasted well, so on the strength of that experience, Tarr asked his procurement department to include Leussink in the tendering process.

The combination caster is used to convert liquid steel into solid steel in single, twin, or triple-strand rectangular-shaped steel slabs, so it’s an important piece of equipment for the Whyalla site. The expectation of the new ‘dummy bar chain’ is that it would need to last at least five to seven years, compared to the two years for the previous one.

Selecting the right supplier

Liberty’s procurement team reviewed multiple tenders and looked at several criteria when deciding whom to go with, including quality, price, and lead time. Overseas tenders while cheaper, had longer lead times, and with these suppliers being offshore quality was harder to guarantee.

Leussink won the tender because they could commit to a lead time of 12 to 14 weeks, the price was competitive, and the quality of their previous work was already known.

The manufacturing process

The ‘dummy bar chain’ is a unique bespoke assembly that needed to be made from scratch.


The first step in the process was for Liberty Primary Steel to provide a series of engineering drawings to Leussink that provided the exact details. There were 13 drawings supplied, that showed all the dimensions, tolerances and how the parts fitted together to make the chain.

Tarr describes the ‘dummy bar chain’ as a giant watch band that can only bend in one direction, but unlike a watchband, it needs to be made to exact specifications.

While the work was well within the capability of the Leussink team, it was technically complex and had to be within specific clearances and tolerances for the assembly to function as intended.

Leussink manufactured the chain in their Illawarra workshop which included a multitude of machined holes and matching pins that needed to meet the exact clearance requirements.

The finished product

Leussink delivered the new chain within the promised time and the team from Liberty Primary Steel was extremely happy with the result.

“The finished product was spot on and no rework was required. All tolerances were bang on,” said Tarr.

“One of the most impressive parts of the project is that the dummy bar chain was delivered on time. Leussink said what they were going to do in terms of timing, and in this industry that can be quite rare,” said Tarr.

The other factor that was of high importance to Liberty is quality. “We make high-quality steel so we need high-quality parts to operate our machinery.

“I visited Leussink’s workshop to undertake the final inspection and straight away I could tell they take pride in their work by the cleanliness and order of the workshop. They were friendly and accommodating throughout the entire fabrication process” said Tarr.

“We were able to remove the old one and immediately replace it with the new higher quality chain which meant there was no downtime for our machinery,” said Tarr.

Leussink has extensive experience in the design and production of a wide range of bespoke equipment and solves engineering problems for companies across a wide range of industries. Contact us for a quote.