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Person standing in front of a production line of robot welding arms.

Smart Steel Systems CEO Chris Brugeaud with his clever robots.

Making Australian steel products competitive

A Queensland company has been established to fabricate structural steel in a cost-competitive way using ‘artificially intelligent’ robotic technology.

Smart Steel Systems’ Brisbane plant is staffed entirely by robots and directed by an artificially intelligent software platform which analyses 3D plans to plot the most cost-effective way to fabricate custom-made structural steel sections.

The system has reduced error rates and slashed the cost of fabricating steel in Australia.

“The system more than halves the hours required to produce a ton of fabricated structural steel,” says Chris Brugeaud, Smart Steel Systems’ CEO.

A group of private investors developed the ideas behind the system. All have a background or association with the steel industry and are concerned about the future of Australian steel fabrication and manufacturing in a climate of highly cost-competitive imports.

Smart Steel Systems was established in 2010 and Australian Government commercialisation grants and expert advice have helped the company move from prototype to commercial scale production.  Brugeaud says the support was critical.

As exciting and as large as our potential was, we would have struggled to get the required investment without that early Australian Government support.

Chris Brugeaud, CEO, Smart Steel Systems

“Our artificially intelligent system takes a 3D drawing file and uses it to program the fully-automated production of customised structural steel sections,” says Brugeaud.

He says the Smart Steel Systems technology is “globally significant” because it can effectively program itself.

Smart Steel Systems has built a plant able to fabricate large-scale steel products and grown from three to nine employees, including four software, mechatronics and robotics engineers.

The company is serving Queensland’s construction industry and, in partnership with building companies, is delivering fabricated steel to six Queensland factories.

Smart Steel Systems is in the early stages of revenue generation and plans to start marketing its technology, not just its steel products. It is actively seeking further investment and strategic partners to assist it to roll-out automated fabrication plants around Australia and to license its technology to manufacturers internationally.