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SAGE delivers a transportable, smart and safe control solution for infrastructure client to heat bitumen on-location.


Product development, infrastructure.


Fulton Hogan enhanced operational safety and control across the highly safety-critical operation of heating bitumen.


Product development, panel manufacture, switchboard upgrades, solution design, remote monitoring, FAT, project management, procurement.


Australian delivery, transportable solution

Michael Thompson, National Manager, Fulton Hogan

"SAGE delivered the end-to-end design and manufacture of a highly unique and safety-critical containerised control system for bitumen heating. Providing one point of contact throughout the project, SAGE and its supply chain have supported Fulton Hogan in further bolstering our safety and monitoring capabilities as we continue creating, connecting, and caring for communities"


Fulton Hogan delivers high-quality infrastructure products and services to a multitude of sectors across Australia and New Zealand. As part of their infrastructure delivery, Fulton Hogan imports bitumen from Singapore in 20-ft shipping containers that include heating elements.

These heating elements activate to heat bitumen to the temperature required to produce a consistency that can be pumped when ready for use, going hard if left at an ambient temperature. The control systems for the existing heating containers had limited functionality and were reaching the end of their lifecycle, which presented significant safety issues.

In the existing containers, the heating elements could only either be turned all off or on, limiting the control over the temperature. If the temperature isn’t monitored closely, moisture can settle on top of the bitumen within a container. If the container is then heated, the moisture evaporates, and there is a critical point in the heating cycle whereby a build-up of pressure in the container creates a highly energetic, explosive risk.

A complete overhaul of their bitumen heating system was a critical safety requirement for Fulton Hogan to gain added control over the heating cycle. The solution also needed to be transportable, compliant with Australian safety standards and required a control system that would allow control of the heating elements for enhanced operational control and safety.


Fulton Hogan engaged SAGE Automation to build a transportable, smarter, and safer system for heating bitumen in remote locations. SAGE, in collaboration with our partners Cornell Design and Specialised Solutions, delivered two built-for-purpose 20-ft bitumen heating containers with an innovative electrical control system.


SAGE engineered two high-power LV switchboards capable of heating bitumen within each container with varying heating requirements. Advanced PLC programming was a requirement in delivering a smart control system that allows operators to utilise anything from an automated slow heat cycle to a high heating cycle, and anything in between, based on their current requirements. Each system can heat two bitumen containers at once, providing Fulton Hogan with the capability of heating up to four bitumen containers utilising proportional enhanced electrical control.


The two LV switchboards were manufactured in SAGE’s Manufacturing Facility in Tonsley, South Australia, and installed into two shipping containers featuring 64, 10KW heating elements. Each of the LV switchboards features a touch screen Human-Machine Interface (HMI) for ease of use for operators. Additionally, a 4G modem was installed to allow remote access.

SAGE engaged mechanical design partner, Cornell Design for the unique layout design of two 20-ft shipping containers, which, when modified, would become the new bitumen containers. The design per container was required to accommodate one SAGE-built LV switchboard, 32, 10KW heating elements, 32, 7.5m long cables, one 4G modem, along with an air-conditioned break room for staff in each container.


Additionally, SAGE introduced mechanical manufacture partner, Specialised Solutions for the mechanical manufacture required for the two 20-ft bitumen containers, tailored to the approved design developed by Cornell Design. SAGE partnered with these two high-quality industry specialists to deliver the best end-to-end solution for the client while providing a single point of contact.

Prior to the solution being dispatched to Fulton Hogan for use, Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) was conducted by SAGE and witnessed by the client on-site.


The solution allows Fulton Hogan to adjust the temperature of every heating element separately to safely and efficiently disperse the heat required for optimal bitumen temperature at any time. The new control system provides a complete overhaul to the existing system that was limited to a basic on/off function, providing increased operational control and visibility, including remote monitoring functionality.


The end-to-end solution for Fulton Hogan, delivered by SAGE Automation, Cornell Design, and Specialised Solutions included two 20-ft bitumen heating containers, featuring:

  • 2 high-power LV switchboards, featuring smart proportional control
  • 2 HMIs (one per panel),
  • 64, 10 KW heating elements,
  • 64, 7.5m cables,
  • 4G modem for remote access.

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