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www.aluminiumtoday.com January/February 2020—Vol.33 No.1


A LU M I N I U M I N T E R N AT I O N A L TO DAY J A N U A RY/ F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 0 V O L . 3 3 N O 1

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CYBER SECURITY 6 Towards cyber resilience in aluminium

Volume 33 No. 7 – January/February 2020



Editorial Editor: Nadine Bloxsome Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855115 nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com



PRIMARY 9 Robotisation implementation in the anode



Production Editor: Annie Baker www.aluminiumtoday.com January/February 2020—Vol.33 No.1



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ALUMINIUM INTERNATIONAL TODAY is published six times a year by Quartz Business Media Ltd, Quartz House, 20 Clarendon Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1QX, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855000 Fax: +44 (0) 1737 855034 Email: aluminium@quartzltd.com Aluminium International Today (USO No; 022-344) is published bi-monthly by Quartz Business Ltd and distributed in the US by DSW, 75 Aberdeen Road, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Periodicals postage paid at Emigsville, PA. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Aluminium International c/o PO Box 437, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Printed in the UK by: Pensord, Tram Road, Pontlanfraith, Blackwood, Gwent, NP12 2YA, UK © Quartz Business Media Ltd 2020

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DIE MONITORING 52 Schuler’s system for die monitoring 54 Improving productivity and efficiency


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WOMEN IN ALUMINIUM 57 Aludium’s women in aluminium


Aluminium International Today

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January/February 2020

10/01/2020 10:39:28


Apple buys first-ever carbon-free aluminium

How safe is your plant? Safety is always a top priority across the aluminium manufacturing industry. Companies are praised for their high standards and we are regularly made aware of milestones reached, while lengthy working times without LTI’s are celebrated. But as we move towards a digital value chain, are we aware of the increasing need to protect plants and workers from online and cyber threats? Statistics released at the end of last year suggest that the average cost of a data breach in 2020 is now expected to exceed $150 million. It’s likely this is as a result of there now being more than 200 billion connected devices on our single planet. Over the last three years and while working to develop the Future Aluminium Forum, I’ve noticed a significant difference in the sector’s approach to adopting digital technologies. There is the understanding that certain solutions can aid production rates and create a more automated workforce, but there is also the need for education in how to customise these applications and ensure all employees are trained in the event of a data breach. Find out more about how you can prepare your company in the cyber resilience feature on page 6. This issue also includes a look at robotisation in the casthouse, rolling equipment technologies, sustainable efforts and there is another look at more ‘Women in Aluminium’. Enjoy!

ELYSIS has successfully produced the first commercial batch of aluminium without any direct carbon dioxide emissions, using a breakthrough, carbon-free aluminium smelting technology. Apple’s purchase represents an important milestone for ELYSIS, a joint-venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, which is working to revolutionise the aluminium industry with an innovation that emits pure oxygen, eliminates all direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduces operating costs when compared to the traditional smelt-

ing process. Vincent Christ, President and CEO of ELYSIS said: “This sale is an important milestone for ELYSIS and a sign of our progress over our first year of operation. It confirms the market interest in aluminium produced using our breakthrough carbon free smelting technology. We are continuing to progress further development of our technology, with our focus on bringing it to market to revolutionise the industry.” This first sale delivered through

Rio Tinto’s commercial network demonstrates the market potential for aluminium made using ELYSIS’ technology, as the demand for environmentally sustainable products grows. Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive said: “Rio Tinto is proud to help deliver through our commercial network the sale of the industry’s first aluminium produced using carbon free smelting technology. This is another important step towards zero carbon aluminium and a more sustainable future.”

EGA celebrates 40 years since first tonne of aluminium Since production began in November 1979 at EGA’s site in Jebel Ali – then known as Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) - the aluminium sector has grown into one of the UAE’s largest industries accounting for 1.4 per cent of the economy and supporting 60,000 UAE jobs. Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) was founded in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. His

Highness Sheikh Khalifa directed in 2013 that EMAL and DUBAL merge to form Emirates Global Aluminium. The company has continued to expand under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and

Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. To mark the anniversary of the first production, young UAE Nationals who will be responsible for EGA’s continuing success in the decades ahead ‘ran’ EGA for the day. Ministers also paid tribute to EGA’s contribution to the UAE’s economy and society over the past 40 years.

ALBA signs Regain as SPL Partner Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) has signed Australian-based Regain as the technology partner for its Spent Pot Lining (SPL) Treatment Plant. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Alba’s Chairman of the Board of Directors Shaikh Daij bin Salman bin Daij Al Khalifa on 20 November 2019 and Regain’s Managing Director Bernie Cooper, Strategic Consultant Frank Briganti as well as Alba Executives Chief Operations Officer Dr. Abdulla Habib, Chief Admin and Supply Of-

ficer Waleed Tamimi, Chief Financial Officer Bryan Harris, Director Safety, Health & Environment Moh’d Khalil along with other Alba officials. Alba announced the establishment of the first-of-its-kind SPL Treatment Plant in the GCC and Bahrain in September 2019. The SPL Treatment Plant - expected to be operational by Q1 2021 - is in collaboration with Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) and is a zero-waste process with a capacity to treat 30,000 35,000 tonnes of SPL a year then

convert it to value- product. The estimated budget for establishing the SPL treatment Plant is close to US$ 44 million. Regain’s proprietary technology not only provides process technology to transform SPL into valuable products but also a complete recycling solution to realise significant environmental and economic gains. Since 2002, Regain has treated more than 370,000 tonnes of SPL from smelters in Australia owned and operated by major aluminium producers.

nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com January/February 2020

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Slovalco to partially curtail production The Board of Directors at Hydro’s majority-owned Slovalco primary aluminium plant in Slovakia has decided to recommend to the shareholders of the company to curtail maximum 20% of the plant’s primary aluminium production, responding to the weak-

ening market environment. The decision is pending final approval by Slovalco’s General meeting. Slovalco is a fully consolidated aluminium smelter in Hydro, owned 55.3% by Hydro Aluminium AS and 44.7% by Penta In-

vestments. Slovalco has an annual production capacity of 175,000 tonnes of primary aluminium and a casthouse capacity of close to 200,000 tonnes. The curtailment of Slovalco’s production is expected to commence in January.

Iran: First phase of $1 billion smelter According to reports towards the end of last year, SALCO, located in the city of Lemerd in the southern tip of the Fars province and near the Persian Gulf, will reach 300,000 tons of aluminium output in its first phase of production. The smelter, one of the largest in the Middle East, creates 1,200 direct jobs and is planned to produce one million tons annually when it reaches full capacity. Five Iranian banks have provided

finances of more than $1 billion for the first phase of the project where China Non-ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. (NFC) has also been contributing. The project has been funded by the IMIDRO, Iran’s largest holding in mining and metals sector, and Ghadir Investment Company, where Iran’s Social Security Organisation and pension funds related to the armed forces are the main

shareholders. Iran seeks to increase annual output of aluminium to more than 800,000 tons by March 2022 while more than $11 billion will be attracted in investment to bring the figure to 1.5 million tons by 2025. Production at three major smelters in Iran, namely Iranian Aluminum Company (IRALCO), the Hormozal Aluminum and Almahdi Co. totaled 103,593 tons between late March and late August 2019.

Alcoa to close Point Comfort refinery The site’s 2.3 million metric tons of annual alumina capacity has been fully curtailed since June of 2016. In October of 2019, Alcoa announced that it was conducting a review of its global production capacities to drive lower costs and sustainable profitability. The review includes 4 million metric tons of alumina capacity, or approxi-

mately 27 percent of the Company’s total global refining capacity. “We operate one of the world’s largest alumina refining systems, and we are committed to maintaining our strong, first-quartile position,” said Alcoa President and Chief Executive Officer Roy Harvey. “While this decision is difficult because of the long history

of operations in Point Comfort, we must eliminate unprofitable capacity and continue to improve our Company for the long term.” The Point Comfort refinery is a part of Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC), a group of companies owned 60 percent by Alcoa and 40 percent by Alumina Limited.

Bridgnorth ASI awarded Aluminij Mostar layoffs

Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) recently announced that Bridgnorth Aluminium’s plant in Shropshire, UK has been successfully certified against ASI’s Performance Standard for responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium. The plant’s operations include casthouses, rolling mills, two Litho Centres, a multi-slitting line and finishing lines. The company has manufactured aluminium strip since 1933. Simon MacVicker, Managing Director of Bridgnorth Aluminium said “We are very proud to achieve this ASI certification, which follows rigorous external assessment of our business and the way we

run it. We are proud that our longstanding efforts towards sustainability are now objectively recognised, and we will use the new knowledge and experience, which we have gained through the certification process in order to further improve our sustainability performance”.

According to reports, days after the management at Aluminij Mostar, Bosnia, resigned, the plant reportedly handed over layoffs to 362 workers. According to reports, dismissals were handed over to the workers with varied notice periods, so that the plant could be able to finish the backlog before closing down. Aluminij management decided to idle the plant after its search for a strategic partnership and several rounds takeover talks with Glencore and other possible investors fell through.

NEWS IN BRIEF Gränges acquires Aluminium Konin Gränges has signed an agreement to acquire the Polish flat rolled aluminium producer Aluminium Konin from Boryszew Group. Aluminium Konin adds new capabilities and capacity to expand Gränges’ offering for future transportation solutions, such as electric vehicles, and contributes to a stronger position in growing markets. Otto Fuchs orders multi chamber melting furnace Otto Fuchs KG supplements its casthouse in Meinerzhagen with one Ecomelt-PS150 melting furnace and two tilting holding and casting furnaces from Hertwich Engineering, a company of the SMS group. The new recycling furnace will be the fifth Ecomelt furnace and with a capacity of 7,7 t/h the largest one at Otto Fuchs. Rio Tinto: Bushfire donation

Rio Tinto has donated a further A$750,000 to the Red Cross’ disaster relief and recovery efforts supporting people affected by Australia’s bushfire crisis, bringing the company’s total donation to A$1 million. Braidy Industries names new Chief Operating Officer Braidy Industries, Inc. has named Mike Otero as Chief Operating Officer (COO), effective January 6, 2020. Mr Otero joins the Braidy Industries executive team with the added designation of Head of the Ashland Headquarters facility.

Aluminium International Today

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13/01/2020 10:48:56



CANPACK: $150M investment The opening event at the end of 2019 was attended by Rafał Kos, Counselor of the President of Poland; Mr. Peter F. Giorgi, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Giorgi Global Holdings, Inc., owner of the CANPACK Group; Fernando Jaramillo, Legal Vice President and Corporate Affairs at Bavaria; Roberto Villaquiran, CANPACK Group CEO along with the CANPACK Group’s leadership team. “Following the increased demand for sustainable and inno-

vative aluminium packaging, the CANPACK Group has decided to accelerate its expansion into the South American market. This investment has been founded upon a strong and trust-based relationship we have established with AB InBev. We are looking forward to expanding our business operations in Colombia as we see great potential for growth within the Colombian market,” said Peter F. Giorgi, President and CEO of Giorgi Global Holdings, Inc., owner of

the CANPACK Group. With a built area of approximately 75,000m2 and more than 200 direct employees CANPACK is the first ever producer in Colombia with the ability to deliver not only standard can sizes for the local market, but also unique can formats such as 269ml and 473ml. The new facility is designed to deliver an annual production capacity of more than 1.3 billion cans, expandable to 1.9 billion depending on the business needs.

Ball to build alu cups plant Ball Corporation will begin construction on its first dedicated aluminium cups manufacturing facility to serve the growing demand for sustainable beverage packaging for U.S. customers and consumers. The new manufacturing facility will be adjacent to Ball’s existing aluminium beverage can manu-

facturing plant in Rome, Georgia, and is expected to ramp up production in the fourth quarter of 2020. Ball plans to hire approximately 145 new employees for the cups facility to support the multi-year investment of approximately $200 million. Atlanta-based KBD Group Inc. is serving as general contractor on the project.

Novelis and Volvo: Auto closed-loop Novelis has emphasised its commitment towards shaping the future for mobility at the Volvo Cars Sustainability Dialogue 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden by highlighting the closed-loop recycling system it implemented with Volvo Cars in 2019. Through the closed-loop sys-

tem, the companies work together to take back Volvo’s production scrap which allows for significant CO2 saving and minimises the primary aluminium input. This reduces the CO2 footprint of the aluminium sheet delivered to Volvo Cars by 78% and secures that their production scrap remains in

the value-chain and is transformed in the same high-quality products infinitely. Closing the loop also involved introducing greener logistics: Shifting transportation of the aluminium sheet from road to train reduces the CO2 emissions related to transport by 68%.

New look to aluminium container Kingston Automation Technology, a venture from Betty Pilon and her son Ben, has modernised the aluminium container production process to bring it into the 21st century and make it a more viable alternative to plastic bottles. “It was important that we redesign these lines,” owner Ben Pilon said. “These are generally, around the world, 60- or 70-year-old technology. We wanted to make them smaller. “They are a third the size,” he said of the new facility. “They use a third the power, they are a third the footprint and they make a fully recyclable bottle.” Kingston Automation Technology is expected to create about 30 January/February 2020

Nadine jan feb.indd 3

jobs at its Montreal Street location and could produce as many as 75 million containers in 2020. According to the company, its patented blow moulding technology creates aluminium containers that are easier to recycle and reuse than either plastic or glass, more efficient to produce and transport, and more cost effective than traditional aluminium bottles. “Our process is smart,” com-

pany president Betty Pilon said in a news release. “Scrap rates are down, changeover time from one customer to the next takes minutes, and small batches are possible. While the advantages of aluminium packaging are undeniable, the existing process to make them is inefficient. We wanted to create a process that would allow anyone from a startup to a large brand to work with us.”

2020 DIARY February 26 - 27 Cyber Security in Aluminium Workshop* This dedicated Workshop will bring together manufacturers, processors and OEMs to gain an understanding of the unstructured and diverse nature of cyber attacks in the aluminium sector. Held in association with Coventry University, UK. www.futurealuminiumforum. com/cyber-security-in-aluminiumworkshop

March 16 - 18 Bauxite and Alumina 2020 The global meeting for the bauxite & alumina markets. Held in Miami, USA. www.metalbulletin.com/events/ bauxite-alumina-seminar

April 20 - 21 CRU World Aluminium* The event provides concise insight on supply, demand, price, premiums, sustainability and costs for the benefit of a highlyinfluential audience from the global aluminium industry. Held in London w w w. e v e n t s . c r u g r o u p . c o m / aluminium/home

May 19 - 21 ET’ 20* The ET Seminar is global in scope and appeal, attracting up to 1,500 industry professionals from more than 50 countries. Held in Florida, USA

www.aec.org 25 - 27

Future Aluminium Forum* If you want to know exactly what’s happening in the world of digitalisation then look no further than the Future Aluminium Forum. The third edition will take place in a hub of innovation Québec City, Canada www.futurealuminiumforum.com

*Pick up a free copy of Aluminium International Today at this event

For a full listing visit www. aluminiumtoday.com and click on Events Diary Aluminium International Today

13/01/2020 10:48:57


ALUMINIUM Materials handling and lifting systems from rodding to the pots

Storage systems

Centrifugal blowers

Ship loaders/unloaders

Bath and carbon recycling plant systems

Dense/solid phase and other conveying systems Potfeed e.g. HyperDense Phase Systems (HDPSTM) Dosing devices

Pot process control systems Electrolysis handling equipment Carbon: rodding and anode handling systems; baking furnace lifting solutions




Towards cyber resilience in aluminium manufacturing Recent Socio-economic conditions, coupled with advancements in technology (both Cyber – IoT, Big Data, AI and Physical – Additive manufacturing, automation, remote sensing) are disrupting the traditional business models and redefining how businesses compete or survive in the future. To investigate the effect these trends have on the industry, the team behind Aluminium International Today and the Future Aluminium Forum are working with experts at Coventry University to host the first dedicated ‘Cyber Security in Aluminium Workshop’ in February 2020. Nadine Bloxsome* highlights the importance for awareness in the sector. Business environments are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent, with Cyber-physical systems (resulting from the convergence of Information (IT) and Operational (OT) Systems) transforming value-chains into ecosystems. Organisations are leveraging this to embark on digital transformation journeys, which manifest as Industry 4.0 and sustainability initiatives. These trends have a pronounced effect on metals industries, the foundational indicators of growth for any country, with aluminium being no exception. The focus in this era is on improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness (Asset and Operations management), Recycling, Safety, and Customer Experience. Accompanying this revolution, however, are cyber security threats that impede business growth and innovation within the sector. Organisations are looking for answers to resiliency issues around overall

efficiency from detection to response to threats, along with regulatory compliance, enablement and protection of their digital transformation agenda. The markets, regulators and ecosystem partners, expect every organisation to protect themselves and their stakeholders at all cost. Cyber security, readiness and maturity, has become an imperative for resilience. Aluminium attacked The importance of cyber security in aluminium manufacturing hit headlines around the world in March 2019 when Norsk Hydro fell victim to a ransomware attack. The breach would ultimately affect all 35,000 employees across 40 countries, locking the files on thousands of servers and PCs. The financial impact would eventually approach $71 million. All of the damage had been set in motion three months earlier when one employee

unknowingly opened an infected email from a trusted customer. That allowed hackers to invade the IT infrastructure and covertly plant their virus. The company reacted with complete transparency. Senior staff hosted daily webcasts and answered audience questions. Executives held daily press conferences at their Oslo headquarters, posted updates to Facebook, welcomed journalists into their operations control rooms – and even launched a new company website during the attack’s first week. Transparency is core to the Norsk Hydro culture, said Halvor Molland, Senior Vice President of Media Relations. By issuing frequent, candid communications about the events, the company also sought to expose the shadowy tactics of cyber criminals and maybe curb similar threats. “We wanted to help other industries learn from our experience,” Molland said.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today & Content Director, Future Aluminium Forum January/February 2020

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“This way, they can be better prepared for situations like this and not have to go through what we did.” Raising awareness As Norsk Hydro continued to work through the after effects of the attack, the second Future Aluminium Forum was preparing to take place in Warsaw in May 2019. The decision was made to include a special focus on this topic – one that the first Forum had actually addressed at the first edition the previous year, with a presentation on managing cyber security risks in advanced manufacturing. The presenter of this original paper was Alexeis Garcia-Perez, Reader in Cyber Security Management at the Centre for Business in Society of Coventry University. Working closely with Alexeis, we decided that the second Future Aluminium Forum needed to engage with delegates and show just how easy it is to fall victim to an attack or data breach. During an interactive session, delegates were set to task to see how they would cope with a potential cyber attack on their company. The ‘attack’ came in the form of an email that had been opened and split into groups; delegates took on the role of different areas of the Management Board to formulate a plan.

The workshop was very well received and highlighted the need for continued support as the industry works towards a digital supply chain. Key points that were discussed and that the industry must note include: � Although the IT and OT are distinct in their goals and technologies, the new paradigm is fostering a convergence and harmonization. � There is also a growing need for pan-industry collaboration for sharing threat intelligence leveraging technology frameworks that ensure trust & transparency. � There is a quest for a secure hybrid cloud environment to foster digital journeys while keeping the trust. Prevention isn’t the only key In order to continue to offer advice to the sector on the potential impact of a cyber attacks in terms of costs and reputational damage and the need for new approaches to manage the digital risks, we are working to develop a number of programmes available to all. The first is a two-day, free to attend Workshop, which will be held on 26th – 27th February 2020 in Coventry, UK. This dedicated Workshop will bring together manufacturers, processors and OEMs and provide particular emphasis on the sector’s requirements for effective preparation, identification, containment, eradication and recovery from cyber attacks, as well as the lessons to be learned by the industry on how to maintain its business operations and legal obligations while dealing with a cyber-incident. Norsk Hydro’s Chief Information Officer, Jo De Vliegher, who will be in attendance, has stressed the need for such an event, but also believes that while prevention is important, attention should be turned to a company’s incident response plan. When the attack occurred, the entire workforce carried out their jobs with a pen and paper during the first days and some

plants switched to manual procedures to meet manufacturing orders. Retired employees – familiar with the old paper system – volunteered to return to their plants to keep production rolling. “If hackers want to get in, they will get in,” De Vliegher says. “We now have an improved incident response to make sure that – should something similar happen – we are much better equipped to limit the damage in time and geography.” Future Aluminium Forum 2020 Now coming into its third year, the next Future Aluminium Forum will take place in Québec City on 25th – 27th May 2020. Originally developed to assist manufacturers and processors in adopting digital technologies and overcoming the challenges associated with implementation, the Forum has become the annual meeting place to share case studies and discuss how Industry 4.0 can aid and optimise the aluminium manufacturing process through machine learning, robotics, automation and augmented reality across the value chain. This next Forum will build on previous cyber security workshops and provide an overview of the current landscape for the industry. Using examples of its real-life cyber threats, participants will collaboratively develop a strategy to deal with the technology, organisational, legal and knowledge dimensions of cyber resilience. The 90-minute workshop will run alongside a Cyber Security Zone, which will present a platform for solutions providers to discuss integration technologies and preventative measures for use in manufacturing operations. Future-proofing As the aluminium industry moves towards a more technically advanced and sustainable supply chain, it is our aim to offer support and strengthen the knowledge required to adopt these initiatives. Our work in cyber security is just the beginning and plans to develop a management strategy and service platform for manufacturers in this area is on going. If you are interested in attending any of these events or would like to know more about how your company can build its knowledge in this area, don’t hesitate to get in touch (nadinebloxsome@quartzltd. com / +44 1737 855115) or visit: www.futurealuminiumforum.com/cybersecurity-in-aluminium-workshop �

Cyber Security in Aluminium Workshop � 26th - 27th February 2020 � Coventry, UK www.futurealuminiumforum.com/cyber-security-in-aluminium-workshop

Aluminium International Today

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Robotisation implementation in the anode rodding shop By Patrice L’Huillier*

With more than 800 employees and an annual production capacity of 600,000 tons of primary aluminium, Aluminerie Alouette is the largest smelter in the Americas located on North Shore of Québec, Canada. The creation of Aluminerie Alouette in Sept-Îles was officially announced on September 1, 1989. The smelter was built in less than three years and produced its first ton of primary aluminium in June 1992. Since then the company has undergone a major expansion. Phase II got under way in September 2002 and was completed in May 2005. Currently, Aluminerie Alouette is running 594 pots AP40 pre-baked anodes technology over 380 kA with classical Paste Plant, 4 baking furnaces and rodding shop scheme. Aluminerie Alouette consortium is made up of the following five shareholders: AMAG Austria Metall AG, Hydro Aluminium, Investissement Québec, Marubeni Metals & Minerals and Rio Tinto. (Fig 1) Aluminerie Alouette permanently works to keep competitiveness to stay within the 1st quartile of cost curve and has a tradition of innovation spirit and utilisation

Fig 1. General view of Alouette aluminium smelter

of last technical development to achieve such target. The recent development in robotisation & automatisation fields – usually called Industry 4.0 - bring a lot of opportunities and the purpose of this article is to describe such application in our anodes rodding shop. Anode Rodding shop description & targets Process description

Alouette anodes rodding shop has been designed for high productivity, large volume > 300 ktpy anodes production. As visible in figure 2, the process can be described according to the following steps: Step 1: Anode butts transport & Process: anode butts are transported by truck from pot-rooms, hanged on the main conveyor, and go through three cleaning steps: rough, detailed and fine blasting to remove electrolytic bath.

*President & CEO, Aluminerie Alouette Aluminium International Today

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Step 2: ‘Stub cleaning, checking & coating’: after removing carbon part and cast-iron ‘crown’, stub is going through a fully automatic 3D geometry laser checking, fine blasting then coating and drying. Step 3: ‘Assembly with new anode, rodding, transport’: cleaned stub is assembled with new anode, cast iron is casted to link anode with stub. Then the rodded anode is transported to potrooms. (Fig 2) Potential area for Factory 4.0 concept There is now numerous literature about the Factory 4.0 concept, which can be explained according to a simple ‘ABC’: A: Automatisation: potential to replace human manual operations by robots & automatic equipment. B: Big Data: potential to analyse large quantity of information through software. C: Central Control Room: potential to centralise production command and operation control. The potential of A-B-C implementation for the six steps production process is described in table 1. It appears that the full production process of this primary aluminium rodding shop have a potential for Factory 4.0 concept either for robotisation or for central control room. Several potentials were identified years ago and implemented already. Several ideas are still under technical development. Implementation Phase 1: implementation done – Stem control station Implementation started in 2017 with automatisation of stem geometrical control operation. A dedicated station (STAS – ASIS-3D) as shown in Fig 3: The scope of this project was following: � 3D geometry laser scanning of 6 stubs � 3D geometry laser scanning of rod � Automatic decision to send deformed stem to neighbour mechanical correction station � Automatic decision to send stem to rodding station � No human presence � Low maintenance costs The main benefit was the removal of co-activity of employee working close to moving stem hanged on the aerial conveyor of the rodding shop. This improvement in safety goes with the removal of human presence in this part of the process. Second benefit is the standardised method to measure geometry of the rod/stub. Human factor has been removed. Finally, the third January/February 2020

primary Alouette.indd 2

Fig 2. process description from Alouette rodding shop

A: Automatization

B: Big Data

C: Central Control room

S1: Butt transport from pot-room


S1: Butt cleaning/bath removal

Robots Monitoring

S2: Stub cleaning, check, coating

Robots Monitoring

S3: New anode assembly S3: Rodding with hot cast iron S3: Final handling/transport



Automatic casting AGV


Monitoring Monitoring Operation control

*AGV: Automatic Guided Vehicle. Green color: implemented. Orange color: in design process

Table 1

benefit is the creation of a database with a picture of every stem making possible to organise analysis and traceability of these components. Phase 2: implementation in progress In parallel, to current implementation, several projects are at the stage of final design.

Fig 3. Laser geometrical control STAS station for stem – Alouette smelter

One of these projects is to make the butt cleaning operation fully automatic through the implementation of two robots with a dedicated tool to remove the bath from the anodes as shown on Fig 4. This system can replace two workers operating 24h per day seven days per week. Another major, ambitious project is to automatise the casting part (step 3: pouring anodes with molten cast iron) and to remove the human presence currently performing such operation. (Fig 5) Such equipment is already working in precision foundry with good results and engineering is currently in progress to adapt it for anodes rodding shop of Alouette smelter in 2021. Benefits are not only a better safety (molten metal, burning, explosion) but also a more stable process. Next steps & vision AGV: Automatic Guided Vehicle At the horizon of 2-3 years, the next big project is the introduction of AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) to transport anodes from the rodding shop to the potrooms. Several prototypes are currently under testing phase in Norway and France for transport of anodes and in Canada for the crucible transport. Next year, Aluminerie Alouette plans to test one of these AGV vehicles. We believe the commissioning phase will take two to Aluminium International Today

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Fig 4. current manual operation (left) vs future robotized operation (right) to clean anode butts

three years minimum before we see such technology at the industrial level. Aluminerie Alouette has not yet chosen what supplier will cooperate for implementation of AGV, but we can mention three examples of AGV currently under evaluation in Fig 6. Manufacturing Future The cost of industrial robots has significantly decreased over the past 10 years and will continue to decrease significantly to reach a point where the cost of robots will be cheaper than Manpower, as shown on graph below (at least for Western countries). It means that robotisation will be more and more profitable (from a financial point of view) to substitute manpower and particularly for low value added jobs like cleaning, transportation, manual operations in a primary aluminium production context. (Fig 7) But at the same time, experience in the Alouette smelter shows that robotisation needs a strong level of supervision and maintenance. It means that we see in the future aluminium smelters with production shops with such characteristics: � No human presence. Production operations done by autonomous robots


� Centralised control room with high level of data monitoring (production, process, equipment) � Strong maintenance & IT/A department at the shop level.

Fig 5. Concept of automatic metal pouring (foundry example – Progelta.com)


Conclusion Aluminerie Alouette started implementation of robotisation 10 years ago and chose casthouse & finished goods handling as a testing area. Simplicity of the process, robust equipment, single products sow, and high reliability made the casthouse the perfect choice to introduce automatisation in a full steam producing 600 ktpy smelter. Then, the rodding shop was the perfect next shop to introduce AGVs, cleaning robots, and automatic casting in a more complex environment. In both cases, robotisation is mostly successful due to a dynamic, openminded and motivated team including shop management. Implementation of robots required high resilience to solve new problems, acquire new competence, manage technical changes and implementation lead-time is more in years than in months. However, it is probably the beginning of the technical revolution just starting. �


Fig 6 Example of AGV (a. MECFOR, b. HENCON,c. ECA)

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Celebrating aluminium GFG Alliance reaffirms commitment to Scottish industry as the UK’s only aluminium factory marks its 90th birthday.

� Scottish report from GFG Alliance details industrial investment of £500m across Scotland, the creation or safeguarding of 400 jobs and spending of £22m with local suppliers � Employees past and present celebrate the anniversary of the Lochaber hydro-electric plant and aluminium smelter � Liberty examines options for downstream manufacturing plant in Fort William to produce automotive wheels or alternative aluminium products

Past and present employees of the UK’s only remaining aluminium factory gathered in Fort William in December to mark the 90th anniversary of the Lochaber hydro-electric plant and smelter – one of Scotland’s best known industrial plants. The factory, on the foothills of Ben Nevis, was acquired by the GFG Alliance for €330 million three years ago and produces up to 50,000 tonnes of aluminium annually, powered by renewable energy from fresh water running off the slopes of Scotland’s highest mountain. Guests including Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, were treated to commemorative bottles of whisky from the local Ben Nevis distillery and a retrospective exhibition detailing the Lochaber plant’s colourful history. Coinciding with the event, the GFG Alliance published its first Scottish report detailing industrial investment of £500m in six aluminium, steel and energy sites across the country, the creation or safeguard of over 400 jobs and spending of nearly £22m with local suppliers. Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance, said: “The Lochaber complex was an engineering triumph, requiring 2,000 men to drive tunnels through the solid rock of the Ben Nevis range. That Highland ‘can do’ spirit has Aluminium International Today

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endured for generations as Lochaber has kept lights ablaze and provided high quality metal for use across British industry. “I’m very proud that the GFG Alliance is not only keeping that tradition going in Lochaber but is investing in staff, capacity and in downstream manufacturing. This is a very special place and it’s a privilege to be a part of its history. As we drive this project forward we have added forty people to our Fort William team. “The model we see here – of renewable energy powering heavy industry – is at the very heart of GFG’s vision for the renewal and revival of foundation industries not just in Scotland but internationally. Our goal is for our steel businesses to be carbon neutral by 2030.” The Lochaber smelter has long played an important part in the local community. Under GFG’s ownership, initiatives have included: � An increase in employment by 26% to 237 roles � 1,000 aluminium water bottles donated to the local high school under an “eliminate plastic” initiative � Football strips donated to South Lochaber Thistle and sponsorship of the Balliemore Cup � Subsidised tickets for residents for the soon-to-open Highland Cinema in Fort William � Development of the JAHAMA Highland Estates to open access and build profitable local business like the new zip wire and our mountain biking events � Development of further clean green power projects locally Liberty has invested nearly £5 million in preparatory work for a downstream manufacturing plant in Fort William. Options under consideration include an automotive wheels plant or, in view of a downturn in UK car production, alternative

industrial uses for the liquid aluminium produced in the Lochaber smelter – such as industrial extrusions or water bottles. Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, said: “You can’t fail but to be inspired by the scale of what is happening in Fort William using the natural and sustainable resources of the surrounding countryside. GFG’s commitment to the Scottish economy, investment in their surrounding communities and recycled metal production sets an incredible example for others to follow.” Elsewhere in Scotland, GFG’s report outlines growing production from its Liberty Steel Dalzell plant at Motherwell, along with an increase in hydro-power generation at Kinlochleven and a doubling of tidal energy generation at the Meygen project off the Scottish coast. During the period under review, GFG companies supported 400 school pupils in Lanarkshire to gain high-quality industrial work experience, provided or committed nearly £250K to Scottish charities and community projects and, through GFG’s Scottish cycle manufacturer, Shand, supplied the bike that took Scotswoman Jenny Graham around the world in a record time. The document, which can be accessed on the GFG Alliance’s website highlights plans and studies in respect of further investment in Scotland including: � A £154m windfarm at Glenshero in the Highlands � Housing and real estate developments in Clydebridge and across Jahama Highland Estate � A wind tower manufacturing operation in Scotland � Prospects for a GREENSTEEL plant in Scotland, to be driven by an electric arc furnace January/February 2020

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As the Lochaber smelter celebrated its 90th anniversary, Nadine Bloxsome spoke to Brian King, Managing Director about the most memorable moments, what celebrations are in store and plans for future aluminium products. Q. The smelter has certainly witnessed a number of changes over its 90 years in operation – what would you say is the biggest change you have been involved in during your role? A. With all of the uncertainty facing the future of Lochaber Operations prior to its purchase by GFG the focus on people development hadn’t been as high as it possibly could have been. Therefore, there wasn’t any formal succession planning in place, and we struggled to fill key roles on the site. Under GFG’s ownership we have renewed the focus on people development and are starting to see the fruits of that work. In addition, our very successful apprentice scheme has been pivotal in ensuring that we have the requisite skills to meet the needs of the business. It is pleasing to see this manifest itself in the numbers of people who are progressing into senior roles within the business. Q. Do you have any memorable moments of the smelter that would be worthy of a mention in celebration of the plant? A. The most significant event has been the purchase of the business by GFG and its vision for a long-term future for the Lochaber Smelter. This has lifted the uncertainty that hung over the business prior to being taken under new ownership. Q. How will you be marking the occasion and celebrating? January/February 2020

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A. A mix of current and former employees were invited to mingle together in a celebration held at the smelter on Tuesday 10 December. Current employees were presented with commemorative bottles of whisky from the local Ben Nevis distillery. An exhibition showcasing artefacts and pictures depicting the history of the plant was also on show to guests. Among the attendees was Duggie Cairns, who works in the bath plant, and has worked at the smelter for 34 years. He is the fourth generation in his family to have worked across the plants at Lochaber and Kinlochleven, stretching back to his great grandfather James Cairns who started working at the Kinlochleven Smelter before the First World War. Q. The smelter plays a pivotal role in the community of Fort William. What continued impact do you see the developments and the alloy wheel plant having on this community? A. We are committed to building a viable downstream aluminium products facility that will increase the number of high-skilled jobs in the area. Conditional planning permission is in place for the alloy wheels plant and we envisage 350 direct new jobs being created once it operates at full capacity. Building an alloy wheels factory remains our primary objective. However, like any responsible business would, the recent troubles of the automotive sector and

uncertainty caused by Brexit mean we are considering the possibility of alternative or additional uses for the liquid aluminium made there. Alternatives being considered include a plant producing construction and automotive extrusions, or water bottles for Ben Nevis water. Q. Are there plans to help keep employment strong within the local community and encourage more workers? A. GFG is committed to pursuing a viable downstream aluminium business in Fort William and as a responsible business, we have engaged seriously in developing local infrastructure to retain and attract new workers. As part of the plans, we have engaged Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) to review the increased housing requirements for the local area and held active discussions to build a gas terminal on the west coast of Scotland that would enable our business and the local community to benefit from mains gas, which currently does not exist in the town. We have also committed to provide free annual membership cards for 20,000 Lochaber residents to the new Highland Cinema, which will open in 2020. This will entitle them to a 30% discount on cinema tickets for eight months of the year, making Fort William a more attractive place to live. Aluminium International Today

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Looking to the smelter’s future, employees actively attend local schools to offer expertise and help with projects as well as offering insight to apprentice programmes. For example, employees have supported Lochaber High School in their project for the Engineering Education Scheme through the Engineering Development Trust. The smelter also recently donated to Inverlochy Primary school to allow them to buy extra books and material for their dyslexic children. Q. Looking to the future (and the next 90 years) are there any other investment plans on the horizon to develop the site and build Liberty Aluminium’s presence in the UK? A. Our smelter and hydro operations have spent £21.6m with Scottish suppliers and paid nearly £25m in salaries to our Scottish workforce since we acquired the sites in December 2016 and we fully intend to continue with this investment in the local economy. GFG has already committed significant investment to upgrade and refurbish existing facilities including further improvements to the Fume Treatment plant, TAC metal treatment, unloading facility, upgrades to anodes, and ongoing work to refurbish compressors. Project engineering feasibility studies are underway on key equipment that requires upgrading. Enhancing the fume treatment plant and the cranes in the pot Aluminium International Today

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room are the priority projects. Lochaber has also benefited from the expansion of Liberty Aluminium into Europe with the acquisition of Aluminium Dunkerque from Rio Tinto. This offers significant upside for Liberty British Aluminium in terms of shared expertise, greater market share, purchasing power and close cooperation on technical/ production best practice. Q. How has the plant adapted to meet market demands and are there more plans to expand into other areas? A. We are reviewing several opportunities around the expansion into value added products at the moment. We are also exploring options around capacity creep to allow us to increase primary metal production. Q. What developments have taken place over the years to make the smelter more sustainable? Any investment in the hydropower? Are there any plans to work towards even greener aluminium products? A. The smelter has always been one of the most sustainable manufacturing operations in the world, powered by clean and renewable hydro-electricity. Lochaber’s hydro power station is currently operating at around 70% of its 100MW nameplate capacity. However, we have undertaken surveys of the main tunnel infrastructure and

local hydrology to take its output closer to 100MW and reduce our imports of electricity from the grid. We are so reviewing options to deploy a biomass CHP plant at the smelter site, which would provide additional heat and power for on-site processes and also potentially the local community. Q. How will the smelter and its workers develop with regards to adopting Industry 4.0 technologies? Is this on the agenda? A. This hasn’t been a focus for us yet but with the investment that is being planned not only for the smelter but our new downstream operations it will be something that will become more and more important to us. Q. Finally, the smelter has stood the test of time, so what would you say is its biggest achievement? A. Undoubtedly, the biggest achievement is the tremendous feat of engineering and human resolve it took to build the water tunnels and dams, which have been crucial to powering the smelter and making it a viable business over the last 90 years. Excavating the main tunnel through the solid rock of the Ben Nevis range from Loch Treig to Fort William required the fortitude of 2,000 men. Until 1970, it was the longest watercarrying tunnel in the world at 15 miles long. � January/February 2020

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The digital transformation journey By Vernon Randall, Alizent* Like many other manufacturing facilities, the Primary Aluminium Industry is also going through a transition to a “new digital age” thanks to the recent technology developments evolving out of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industrial Transformation. Focus on process productivity, on energy cost, on product quality, and management of scraps are daily concerns within smelter operations. The importance of maximising the return on investment by increasing the availability and reliability of the smelter assets has become major focal points within the Aluminium smelter in the journey towards Digital Transformation or as referred by some circles as Digitisation. The deployment of emerging technologies, powerful algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced data analytics, together with advanced technologies becoming available in the realm of Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), smelters can progress toward achieving these goals of maximising return on investment. Digital Transformation is about disrupting longstanding best practices, value drivers, and competitive advantages with emerging digital technologies and processes change whilst it means doing new or different things, not the same way as before, but better. Success and sustainable outcomes will be to try to solve problems in new ways, with new technology. Then sustaining and scaling whatever is learned from solving these problems. Be aware that Digital Transformation is much more than just technology, it extends into the realm of engaging and empowering people in the smelter. The Convergence of IT and OT in the Smelter Over the past few years there has been a growing realisation that traditional

IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operations Technology) must work very closely together in order to unleash new value within the smelter. Digitization projects, spurred on by Fourth Industrial Revolution and technological advances have opened many possibilities to create new value bringing IT and OT closer together. The nature of digitisation projects in manufacturing, and is also the case in the smelter, is forcing the blurring of the lines between IT and OT silos, and this will often require reorganisation and create new roles in the business. The forced merger of IT and OT is in part brought about by the greater connectivity provided by the “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIOT) and this integration provides visibility and enables leverage of data across the enterprise. But merging of teams is only the first step in the process. What is often needed is a fundamental realignment of the way these teams think and act about their role in the organisation, dismantling cultural barriers and the challenging of many historical assumptions. The best practices from each of the two domains need to be adapted and applied to the new combined entity. This change process will require strong and experienced leadership and, of course, full support and sponsorship by the C-level representatives of the company. In the paragraphs that follow, a summary sample of initiatives towards smelter industry digitisation projects are provided. These are by no means complete and many other innovative initiatives are being explored and deployed in the smelter industry. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Machine learning and artificial intelligence tools are becoming the standard throughout every industry and therefore

to remain relevant in today’s increasingly competitive market, smelters will soon have no choice but to embrace the use of these tools. However, smelter C-level management should not jump in and invest without first formulating an effective plan to determine next steps for bringing these capabilities into the smelter production process. Machine learning offer internal benefits that can reduce operational costs and improve organisational efficiency. Machine learning enables systems to absorb production machine data and create accurate, personalised experiences that become more tailored to the ability of production personnel as they interact with the technology. Machine learning can predict maintenance issues before they arise, allowing the maintenance personnel to repair their machines before something breaks, saving exorbitant downtime costs. Predictive Maintenance The detection of potential incidents causing or which will cause equipment downtime by using technology is an indisputable advantage. Powerful algorithms, machine learning and advanced pattern recognition technologies are available to provide predictive maintenance solutions, which detects when an operation deviates from its operating model. Using currently available technology, an operation model with the historical data in the area to be monitored within the smelter is created. Using the technology, early alerts are received when process parameters within production are deviated. This then allows subject matter experts and analysts, tasked to monitor the alerts, the ability to decide on the optimal action to take before the failure occurs. Performance Optimisation A technology solution to compare in

*Recognised leader in software solutions for the Aluminium Industry with over 30 years of experience working with all stages of Aluminium Production. Aluminium International Today

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Real Time actual performance to that of historical recorded performance can similarly be very advantageous to the smelter operations. The technology solution, the Performance Optimisation Solution, searches for the optimal performance point based on achieved performance. It detects the performance gaps; advises the subject matter experts and analysts how to reach the best economic performance; it provides them the optimal action needed to overcome the problem. Connected Eyewear: Visualising Information in Augmented Reality Connected eyewear, integrated into a safety helmet, is being tested for feasibility. The eyewear gives vital information while allowing the wearer to maintain the use of his or her hands. A technician immediately visualises the safety of the premises being visited, maintenance instructions, and information in real time. These glasses have an integrated camera that facilitates remote technical assessments or adjustments. To get a handle on the situation, it is necessary to see and hear what’s going on. Thus equipped, a technician can

transmit the sound and images from the environment to people in the remote support team. From a computer screen, the subject matter expert observes the situation and can offer visual instructions by indicating an area with the mouse. The image appears instantly in the glasses. Crucible Tracking The objective and target of the metal flow team is to get the furnaces within the casthouse on grade, in time for the casting operation, and at the correct alloy composition per casting schedule. When a furnace is full, it should be ready to cast. The only way to accomplish this is to know the weight, composition and source of all metal being placed into the furnace. Tracking crucibles is tracking the necessary information for this task and technology is available to fulfil this task. Similarly to that of the Air Traffic Controller’s job which is to get the planes in the sky down safely to the air terminal, the Metal Coordinator’s job is to get the correct composition to the furnace in order to cast the required composition and quality of the metal for the product to be produced and at the right time. The Air Traffic Controller has his air picture display

with many features from which radars provide the data. The Metal Coordinator can make use of a Crucible Tracking solution providing very similar features but tailored to the metals industry and using Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) or Global Positioning System (GPS) tagging solution for positional data instead of the radar. If you do not know the composition of the metal in the crucible, you can’t direct it to the proper furnace to maximise the metal for product production. A Crucible Tracking Solution such as this has the following features: realtime updates on location and visibility of crucibles; historical data available; idle time calculation capability; alert for idle time per zone notification when cleaning is required; visualisation of key data such as status (empty or not); correct chemistry/ pots contribution to the overall content and furnace destination. Digitisation solutions to achieve these features can achieve dramatic improvements in throughput of metal and reduction of laborious tasks and errors on the part of the metal coordinator and other operators in the hot metal supply chain.

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Aluminium International Today

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Advanced Planning & Production Scheduling Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) systems are tools and techniques to help manage complexity and provide decision-making information and recommendations for planners and managers. Constrained industries as in the case of the Aluminium smelter with complex constraints and large numbers of items, orders, machines and people are difficult to plan effectively, and here APS provides significant assistance. A major requirement is the ability of the APS to produce optimised results and handle realistic complex data sets. APS systems having advanced heuristics and/or artificial intelligence methods are the way to achieve large benefits. A heuristic technique is any approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery that employs a practical method is not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but sufficient to optimise production in order to meet immediate customer demand. The minimum requirements for such APS for effective use in the smelter should have functionality that includes master production and shipment planning;

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process order management; billet/slab cutting optimisation; production detailed scheduling with advanced KPI dashboards providing visualisation of planned versus actual outcomes. The solution should provide capabilities to perform backlog management and, of course, a solution having integration with the manufacturing execution system and business systems. Business Intelligence By incorporating data and process models into the data infrastructure, a standard way to communicate and analyse the data across systems and sites will simplify the view of operations. At its most effective use, extending this infrastructure beyond the plant floor by combining it with other business systems enables the seamless transformation of operational data into insight that will drive business decisions across the enterprise. Done well, this drives increased cost savings in process optimisation, energy, water, and a reduction of production losses. This also provides not only real time situation detection based on correlated events, but the ability to make smarter decisions in real-time benefiting the culture and human

collaboration changes that occur by having an end-to-end visibility on the production process. Here the culture changes from finding who is guilty, to solving the problem as a team is an enormous benefit to the smelter. Lastly, implementing business intelligence solutions will provide the smelter more agile solutions making operational decisions closer to the market and customer needs. Digital Transformation evolving into a digital manufacturing environment is the technology of the future. It is imperative for Aluminium producers to reassess their production process and strategise their operations in the line of complete digital engagements. Those smelters that are focused on remaining relevant in the future should have already begun to embrace Digital Transformation. Companies that insist on delaying implementation will ultimately impede growth, and, in today’s ever-expanding market, that could stunt progress for years to come. The process has started, and it is sure to turn around the aluminium smelter industry in the near future. Embrace the technology with successful outcomes on the ‘Journey to Digital Transformation’. �

Aluminium International Today

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The CERA Project At last, a universal stamp for sustainability in the raw materials trade. For more than a decade, ever-increasing sales of smartphones, tablets and electric vehicles have been radically increasing the demand for raw materials. Batteries and their components require significant quantities of cobalt, lithium, gold and copper, to name a few. The source countries for these raw materials are most often in Africa and Latin America, where standards of human rights, labour and environmental conditions can vary wildly, presenting an ethical dilemma for any conscientious consumer or business. The dawn of the smartphone has coincided with – and even contributed to – greater discernment among consumers and industry players alike around the environmental and social impact of their behaviour. Consumers have greater access to the information on how businesses do business, and every industry player knows it. From cocoa and coffee to t-shirts and trainers, in the last decade necessary steps have been taken by companies both large and small to provide assurances of ethical practices along the supply chain; the raw materials sector is no different. In fact, more than 150 individual schemes exist. Some certificates are specific to a single geography, process or humanitarian concern, others to a single mineral. However, no universal metric, methodology, appraiser, success criteria currently exist to guarantee sustainability. This results in a tangled web of January/February 2020

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complex approaches to and definitions of sustainability in raw materials. From mine exploration to the components in an electric vehicle, no two protocols are the same, with some minerals are covered by multiple pieces of certification legislation, others by none at all. And even the most effective and comprehensive certification processes only have one thing in common: cost. Not a shared wish to limit the cost to the environment, but the actual financial commitment required by companies wanting to ensure their products are created ethically. The most advanced certification processes are currently so expensive, the majority of players across the value-chain find themselves excluded. This means, even the most scrupulous mining company or single artisanal miner, smelter, manufacturer or consumer has no simple or cost-effective way to certify the sustainability of the raw materials they purchase or produce. Corporate and consumer conscientiousness is now a necessity, not a luxury – which is why DMT Group is launching CERA: The first affordable, universal and comprehensive certification scheme for determining the sustainability of raw materials. CERA is applicable for every raw material and every country, allowing a single definition of sustainability to be used for the entire value chain. DMT, headquartered in Germany, has over 280 years of experience working in mining

and engineering across the world. It is our belief – and the underlying values of the CERA project – that the only viable future for the raw materials sector rests in prioritising our positive contributions to the value chain. Because enshrining bold targets for sustainability and creating positive impact is not only the key to a sustainable future, but any future at all. In the past, cost and complexity have been understandable hurdles for every actor in the value chain; and CERA removes both. For any and every raw material extracted, processed, traded and manufactured; from artisanal miners raking alluvials in Latin America, to Swissbased commodities houses purchasing raw materials on the open market, CERA has created a framework that allows for a consistent definition of environmental, social and economic sustainability. 50 years ago, if we knew what we know now about the potential environmental, human and social cost of mining practices, the mining industry would have started CERA from the beginning. Today there can be no question that a more transparent supply chain means improved wages and working conditions in source countries, greater competitive advantages for first movers, reduced reputational risk and more informed and empowered consumers. It begs the question why a CERA-style framework has taken this long to be introduced. � Aluminium International Today

08/01/2020 12:32:14



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DESIGNING SMART PLANTS BY ASSOCIATING NEW TECHNOLOGIES WITH FIVES' EXPERTISE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES ARE THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND PERFORMANCE AND FLEXIBILITY. By combining analysis and advanced control based on consistent data with knowledge and expertise on equipment and processes, Fives improves both global overall operational efficiency and working conditions in the smelters. Fives offers comprehensive digital solutions such as AMELIOS Suite for a full Carbon Digital Chain, SMARTCranes for optimal crane maintenance, Skill2Perf for customized crane driving and Solios SMART GTC for enhancing the smelter environmental performance. For more than two centuries, Fives has been adapting to changes which mark the industrial revolutions, including the Digitalization era.



Colourful collaboration Ametek surface vision supplies Italcoat S.r.l. an inspection solution for aluminium colour coating lines. As a manufacturer of coated rolled aluminium products based in Pignataro Maggiore, Italy, Italcoat S.r.l. takes coils of rolled aluminium from its mother plant, Laminazione Sottile, and applies a colour coating to the metal surface. There are several hundred colours of coating that are applied, ranging from matte to glossy finishes. However, rising customer requirements for high-quality products drove Italcoat to improve productivity while reducing quality claims to a minimum. Italcoat needed a surface inspection system to maintain product quality on its LV1 and LV2 organic colour coating lines. These lines produce colour-coated aluminium chiefly for use in pharmaceutical applications, construction, fin stock, food packaging and general use. The speed of these lines is approximately 150 metres per minute. The need for continuous surface inspection For its surface inspection requirements, January/February 2020

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Italcoat used human eye inspection and periodic checks. However, these methods were inefficient in the face of an increasing market demand for defect-free material. The company wanted to replace manual inspection with a continuous surface quality checking system that covered 100% of the material being processed. The aim was to keep the production of scrap material to a minimum. There are numerous defects for which to monitor: scratches, spots, stains, uncoated areas, coating voids, uneven coating, lacquer drops, streaks or discrete contaminations, and coating solvent issues such as microbubbles. Additionally, there may be repeat defects caused by the coating process or previous process steps. The new quality control system needed to provide visibility of defect distribution, and immediate alarms for prompt operator action. Antonello Ferone, a process engineer at Italcoat, said: “The demand for high quality material has risen over the past few years. We were looking for an inspection

system that was reliable and could be easily adopted into the production process. Our goal was to minimise the time and cost of physical checks, which were increasing the downtime of the line. “For food and pharma packaging, in particular, a defect-free material is essential as any defect that causes the material to break or lose its impermeability must be identified.” The different markets served by Italcoat have varying requirements for surface quality, and the quality of the final product must be highly detailed to reduce the scrap after slitting. Italcoat needed to reduce scrap material at an early stage, with the option to take immediate action to remedy any defects. The solution had to provide a detailed map of the defect distribution over the material surface in order to manage yield optimisation. A proven inspection solution Italcoat conducted extensive research before settling on AMETEK Surface Vision’s SmartView® system for its colour Aluminium International Today

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coating lines. In order to evaluate the feasibility of the detection requirements, the company performed detailed sample studies at AMETEK Surface Vision’s laboratory in Karlsruhe, Germany. They then performed a trial installation on site to judge the system’s usability, defect detection, and classification performance. They also tested the system’s capability to evaluate the coating quality through the Surface Quality Monitoring (SQM) package. Through the study and trial, AMETEK Surface Vision clearly proved the system could fulfil Italcoat’s requirements. Italcoat selected the SmartView® inspection system that featured two cameras on each side of the metal, installed in brightfield with the SQM and Streaming Video packages. One of the key factors in selecting AMETEK Surface Vision was the quick adoption of SmartView® into the production process, which provided fast results. The system is not currently integrated with any process control systems in the mill, and inspection results are evaluated manually. However, Italcoat plans to integrate the inspection system into process control systems in the future.

Marco Saitta, Sales Account Manager at AMETEK Surface Vision, explained: “The SmartView® system’s modular nature allowed Italcoat to quickly install it for immediate quality advantages, while allowing for control integration options in the future.” Delivering the expected results The system fully met Italcoat’s expectations, delivering significant benefits to the coating lines. Once SmartView® was installed and operational, the visibility of the surface quality and increased knowledge of the defect types helped Italcoat optimise the product quality and improve the process. “The increase in product quality has secured our repeating business, while significantly reducing scrap production,” Antonello said. “We have also reduced quality claims, resulting in significant cost reductions.” Italcoat Process Engineer Vincenzo Nigliato added: “We were fully satisfied with the commissioning and on-going support from AMETEK Surface Vision. We were also impressed by the skills and experience of their senior project management team to provide effective

support remotely.” The SmartView® system reliably detects defects on Italcoat’s many different colours and surfaces, requiring only a small number of detection settings and parameters to manage the inspection system. Streaming video capabilities provide a full, real-time overview of the surface in high resolution and full width. The system also generates direct alarms in real-time when defects occur, while adaptive detection features and automatic light control minimises the administrative work required. “The inspection tools and operator’s interface are highly modular and easy to use,” Vincenzo said. “Defect detection and classification parameters are under our control, and the need for support from AMETEK Surface Vision to tune the performance of the detection and classification is really low.” “Most importantly, our customers are now confident of getting 100% inspected material that satisfies their highest quality demands,” he added. For more information about AMETEK Surface Vision and the SmartView® inspection system, visit www.ameteksurfacevision.com �

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Fig 1. (The photograph was produced by Mr. David Tracy in December of 2019, and provided by JW Aluminum.)

Rolling Mills: 30 years in the USA Aluminium rolling mills have been part of the manufacturing base of the United States of America for decades. According to a report issued by The Aluminum Association in 2008, “Hot and cold continuous sheet rolling mills came into operation in the United States in 1926. The maximum speed of the first USA cold ‘strip’ mill was reported to be only about 200 feet per minute (60 m/min.)… The rolling industry switched from steam engines to electric power; it built specialty mills, and bigger multi-purpose mills.” The expansion at JW Aluminum in Goose Creek, South Carolina, included the two structures at the top of Fig 1. A portion of the property is being utilised as a scrap aluminium receiving area. The firm indicated that when it starts operating the new equipment in mid-2020, JW Aluminum will be using 100% scrap at this facility. As the American economy became more globalised in the past 30 years, the aluminium industry has adapted to the new market conditions. In some cases, that has meant the closure of aluminium rolling mills that had been in operation for years. A number of communities that grew up around these mills saw great Aluminium International Today

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impacts – negative impacts – as the mills closed. The industry has also seen consolidation among aluminium companies with operations in various nations around the world. Subsidies by governmental entities, such as those provided in China, as well as tariffs have also impacted the markets supplied by aluminium rolling mills. “Weak demand across most of the major end-use markets has resulted in the 4th consecutive downgrade to world aluminium rolled products consumption growth,” stated Mr. Doug Hilderhoff, Principal Analyst – Head, North America Aluminum of CRU Group. “CRU forecasts consumption to grow by 2.0% in 2019 compared to our prior estimate of 3.1%.” “While conditions have mostly held flat in Europe and North America, major downgrades have been made in China throughout the forecast period,” Mr. Hilderhoff continued. “From an end-use perspective, the biggest downgrade was made to foil stock consumption, driven by weaker demand prospects in China, India, and North America. Global consumption from the construction and transport sectors have also been revised downward, although there are signals that both

markets have bottomed out.” Mr. Hilderhoff noted that “The one bright spot has been the packaging market, particularly in North America, where the consumer-led war on plastics and new beverages are expected to add incremental growth to can sheet demand.” China continued to have impact throughout global markets, including impact on the aluminium rolling industry in the USA. “Chinese investments in rolling capacity continue to pile up despite ongoing challenges associated with weaker domestic demand, and resistance from traditional export partners,” according to Mr. Hilderhoff. “Chinese rolling capacity is expected to grow by more than 14% between 2019-2024.” “The massive growth in Chinese sheet and plate exports seen over the past 2 years to places like the EU, Mexico, and Brazil have certainly grabbed the attention of rollers operating in those countries,” Mr. Hilderhoff continued. “The EU market in particular has been inundated by Chinese product, forcing rollers to look elsewhere (i.e. the USA) for sales. With the USA market now overflowing with January/February 2020

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Fig 2. (Image: courtesy of Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc.)

inventory, many wonder whether the attention will shift back to the domestic markets in Europe, with the possibility of trade actions being explored.” Sales to customers in the USA from European rolling mills are anticipated to decline during 2020. “There has been some good news for European rollers of late, with Chinese exports beginning to fade since the middle of 2019,” stated Mr. Hilderhoff. “Through September, Chinese exports of sheet and plate are down 3%. Although Chinese exports to the EU are up more than 100% through September compared to 2017 levels, the pullback over the past few months is an encouraging sign for European rollers. Continued declines will be necessary to bring a sense of balance back to Europe, especially with the expectation for weaker EU exports to the USA in 2020.” One of the European firms that has continued to see strong demand for their aluminium sheets is Norsk Hydro ASA, according to Dr. Peter Heimerzheim, Team Lead Germany, Communication and Public Affairs. The firm operates globally and has two aluminium rolling mills in Norway and four aluminium rolling mills in Germany. “Our product quality in some areas is January/February 2020

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still unbeaten so USA companies ask us to export the products from Europe to their USA facilities,” stated Dr. Heimerzheim. “USA-based companies use our aluminium to produce for customers in the USA, but also for customers in other parts of the world.” A number of businesses with rolling mills in the USA also project long-term opportunities to grow their operations in America. Several firms have been and are investing large amounts of money to expand and enhance aluminium rolling mills in the nation. Operations are seen here at Logan Aluminum, a joint venture of Tri-Arrows Aluminum and Novelis, in Russellville, Kentucky. According to the firm, Logan Aluminum is a leading manufacturer of flat-rolled aluminium sheet, primarily in the beverage can market (Fig 2). Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. is one of those businesses. “Business has been very strong,” stated Mr. Matt Bedingfield, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer of Tri-Arrows Aluminum. “We have been a core supplier to the aluminium can market for over 30 years. Recently, we’ve invested over US $400 million to increase our capacity and


capabilities to better serve this market.” Customers at Tri-Arrows Aluminum include both the can makers who actually manufacture the cans and the brands that sell the finished goods, according to the firm. “Tri-Arrows is focused on North America,” explained Mr. Bedingfield. “Given the issues around plastic sustainability and the recognition of the great aluminium sustainability, demand is very strong in the USA; with strong demand, there is no reason to export. While Tri-Arrows is focused domestically, our majority owners, UACJ, supply globally.” Mr. Bedingfield indicated that the market for aluminium can sheet “is stronger than it has been in recent memory.” “The can sheet market is a very dynamic one at the moment,” noted Mr. Bedingfield. “The confluence of tariffs, automotive demand, and consumers demanding sustainable packaging options has created a very robust demand environment. While the tariff environment is difficult to predict, we don’t see automotive demand or the shift toward more sustainable packaging slowing down anytime in the coming years.” Recycling is an important component to operations at this firm, with Tri-Arrows Aluminum indicating that it is one of the largest aluminium recyclers in the world. “We just completed an investment at our mill, Logan Aluminum, that allows us to take used beverage cans directly into our process to produce can sheet creating a completely closed loop,” stated Mr. Bedingfield.“This investment allows us to reduce our product’s overall carbon footprint, gives us greater flexibility and security of supply for our inputs, provides an end use market for the aluminium can, and creates the sustainability story for the aluminium can that is driving so much of the demand we are seeing in the marketplace. The ability to create this closed loop is what sets aluminium apart from all other substrate choices for packaging. Recycling is at the absolute core of what we do.” Another firm making a major investment in the expansion of an aluminium rolling mill is JW Aluminum. The business is constructing “a new 220,000 square foot building and installing proven, state-of-the-art equipment utilizing green technology” at its site in Goose Creek, South Carolina, according to JW Aluminum. The firm indicated that it is investing more than US $250 million in this expansion, with phase one anticipated to be completed in 2020; phase two is planned for completion by 2022. Aluminium International Today

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According to JW Aluminum, the expansion will result in 175 million pounds of new capacity. “It’s an exciting new chapter in JW Aluminum’s story and a considerable progression in our strategic journey,” stated Mr. Lee McCarter, Chief Executive Officer of JW Aluminum. “The outcome of this endeavor will empower us to produce superior product for our customers, provide increased value to our stakeholders and serve as a preferred supplier for decades to come.” In addition to the Goose Creek location, JW Aluminum operates aluminium rolling mill plants in Russellville, Arkansas; Saint Louis, Missouri; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Locales with existing aluminium rolling mills are not the only places where expansion is taking place in the USA. The growth potential for aluminium rolling mills in the USA is also seen in Greenup County, Kentucky. Located near Ashland and in the heart of coal country, this area has been reeling from changes in customer demand and governmental regulatory requirements for coal. It is here that Braidy Industries is in the process of building the Braidy Atlas Mill (Fig 3). According to Mr. Craig Bouchard, Chief Executive Officer of Braidy Industries, this “state-of-the-art, low-emissions aluminium rolling facility positions Braidy as the low-cost, low-carbon maker of 300,000 annual tons of production-ready series 3000, 5000 and 6000 aluminium sheet for the automotive and beverage can industries.” The Braidy Atlas Mill is scheduled to open in 2021. In the Spring of 2019, Braidy Industries and United Company RUSAL (Rusal) announced a “US $200 million lead investment in the Braidy Atlas Mill. In exchange for its investment, Rusal will obtain a 40% share in the Braidy Atlas Mill.” “Given that the Braidy Atlas Mill is the first greenfield project in North America in over 37 years, it goes without saying that the industry is outdated and not prepared to meet the demands of a lower-carbon future,” Mr. Bouchard continued. “Braidy Atlas customers will include the top worldwide automotive OEMs, some of the largest metal service center companies, as well as major food and beverage companies, where costefficiency and packaging sustainability are


Fig 3 is a rendering of the planned Braidy Atlas Rolling Mill facility near Ashland, Kentucky. (Picture courtesy of Braidy Industries.)

a predominant focus.” As part of its growth plans, Braidy Industries acquired NanoAl and Veloxint. NanoAl is “pioneering aluminium superalloys through advanced materials and nanotechnology research,” according to the firm, while Veloxint “provides high performance products and parts enabled by our novel nanocrystalline metal alloys.” Mr. Bouchard indicated that these acquisitions “enable Braidy Industries to provide lightweighting solutions to a wider swath of tool makers, and automotive manufacturers in the United States and abroad, who will build vehicles that are safe, strong, and reliable, while achieving a lower carbon footprint to meet consumer expectations as well as the ever-changing regulatory and environmental standards of the modern marketplace.” Braidy Industries is looking longterm for growth in the USA. “The Braidy Atlas mill capacity is approximately 200% pre-sold, utilising non-binding and binding commitments to private industry customers for the first seven years of production,” stated Mr. Bouchard. “Braidy Atlas plans to become the first rolled products aluminium sheet producer to use 100% low-carbon inputs on an ongoing basis from its inception.” These investments in aluminium rolling mills are substantial and will likely result in continued and enlarged employment opportunities for workers in these locales, but it should be noted that the overall workforce in the aluminium industry has been in decline for years in the USA.

While demand for aluminium is likely to continue to increase in the USA, the size of the overall workforce in the industry is projected to continue to decrease in the years ahead. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the workforce in the Alumina and Aluminium Production and Processing Industry has been in decline for a number of years. The Bureau has projected that the workforce decline will continue through 2028. (The Bureau combines a number of sectors of the aluminium industry together for statistical analysis. Aluminium rolling mills are but one of the sectors included in these statistics.) The Bureau indicated that there were 66,100 workers in the Alumina and Aluminium Production and Processing Industry in the USA in 2008, while that number dropped to 58,100 workers in the overall industry in 2018. In November of 2019, the Bureau issued projections that there will be 52,800 workers in the Alumina and Aluminium Production and Processing Industry in 2028. The years since 1989 have been ones of great challenges, disappointments, successes, and opportunities for the aluminium rolling industry in the USA. While the next 30 years will undoubtably have similar ups and downs as specific markets expand and contract, leaders within the aluminium rolling industry anticipate that aluminium will continue to play a major role in the USA as well as globally. �

Do you have questions about the aluminium industry? Governmental regulations? Company operations? Your questions may be used in a future news column. Contact Richard McDonough at aluminachronicles@gmail.com. © 2020 Richard McDonough January/February 2020

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So, you want to build something? Capital projects require support from engineers, architects, procurers and constructors. It’s important that owners know how to work with an A/E firm and understand the different project delivery models in order to deliver a successful capital project. By John Wharton*

Capital projects come in all types and sizes. A company may have a vision to build a building, develop infrastructure, or install process equipment. Or all of the above. Whatever the need, the Owner needs a skilled project team to turn a vision into reality. A good beginning A capital project begins with identifying a need. Perhaps the need is for greater capacity, a new product or service, or renovation. Once the need is identified, the project needs a great plan for success! This is one of the areas where an A/E firm can help. Teaming with the Owner, the project team needs to address: � What is the best way to fulfill the need? � What constraints do we have? � When do we need to be in full operation? � How much capacity do we need? � What equipment and services do we need to buy? � What is the optimum layout for process flow? � What are the requirements for reliability, operability and maintainability? � How will we account for external logistics? � What are the risks? � How much will the project cost? � Do we have a solid business case? � What project delivery model should we use? The result of this early planning process includes development of a conceptual design that brings a visual representation of what the Owner wants to build.

The Importance of Planning A well-planned project will always be more successful than unplanned projects. Therefore, investment in a detailed project plan at the beginning of a project will pay dividends throughout its life cycle. The Project Management Institute suggests that projects are 2.5 times more successful when using proven project management practices. However, a well-executed project requires the project team to follow the project plan, and adjust the plan when things change. Therefore, it is necessary to insert project team review periods, or Stage Gates, along the way to make sure there is full alignment between the A/E and the Owner for the defined project scope. Metals projects use the Front-End Loading Process (FEL) to check alignment with plan and confirm the business case. FEL reviews are a two-way street. For the Owner, frequent reviews provide the ability to confirm projects are on track as the project progresses, ask questions and provide direction (FEL-1, -2, -3). For the A/E, the reviews provide the opportunity to get information and design decisions from the Owner (FEL-1, -2, -3), and confirm design requirements are met (FEL-4). Failure to conduct thorough reviews can result in extra work to correct something that could have been addressed earlier in the process. At the conclusion of FEL-3, all

design-related decisions should have been made, and the FEL-4 phase will be solely focused on turning the design decisions into construction documents. (Fig 1). Project delivery models In the past, the metals industry overwhelmingly preferred an EPCM model for the delivery of projects. However, some companies are opting for different project delivery models – depending on the type of project, and the in-house resources of the company. These other models include Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build. � The EPCM (Engineer-ProcureConstruction Management) model places the most control in the hands of the Owner. The Owner hires an EPCM firm to manage the entire project (as a service), but the Owner writes all the contracts (and calls the shots) for procurement of equipment, materials, construction contracts, and other services. The EPCM works with the Owner to select contractors for each trade (not a GC) to reduce construction markups. Note that some A/E firms also offer EPCM services. � The Design-Bid-Build model involves hiring an A/E to work with the Owner from concept development through preparing construction bid documents and keeps the A/E on board during construction to assist and review

Fig 1

*Director of Project Delivery Excellence, Gresham Smith Aluminium International Today

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Category The Project Delivery


Design – Bid – Build


Design – Build

Project scope requires significant development before

Project scope requires significant development.

Project scope is well-defined prior to contract –

Owner is comfortable owning construction risk and engaging GC, Owner has staff to liaise with the A/E, model is the Best Fit has an in-house project manager to liaise with the and a moderate appetite for risk. Owner pays a fee for for an Owner when: EPCM firm. Owner hires EPCM to provide services but construction risk management. no fee for risk management. Schedule Performance

Cost Performance

Owner ability to control

and GC has prior similar experience. Owner has limited staff and a low appetite for risk. Can be fastest time to market. Owner pays a fee for total project risk management.

Slowest (Serial process, limited ability to accelerate)

Medium (Ability to release early packages for bid and

Fastest (Ability to release early packages with

(Can use accelerated packages with individual bid

begin construction while later packages continue

negotiated procurement)



Medium-High - if Owner selects one GC – similar to

Medium – Higher services cost for CM but offset

Higher – GC charges a fee for taking on total

Design Build

because GC risk fees eliminated (Owner owns risk)

project risk and single point accountability

Medium. Generally, two contracts – A/E and GC. Multi-

Medium. Owner holds all contracts. CM responsible

Least control. GC has a lump sum to manage all

ple entities – BUT, potential for “finger-pointing”.

to coordinate (& mitigate conflicts) with multiple

aspects, so the GC makes decisions to meet their



Owner’s Ability to

Owner holds all design and process risk, Construction

Owner holds all project risk and EPCM manages risk on

GC holds total project risk, but Owner retains pro-

Control Risk

risk owned by GC (for a fee)

Owner’s behalf

cess risk. Fees are higher to take this higher risk

Owner’s Ability to

Low-Medium (Oversight is dependent on Owner staff

Medium (Primary oversight by CM as a service to

Low (Oversight is dependent on Owner staff

Control Construction

“checking on” the GC)


“checking on” the GC)


the contractor’s work. The Owner also uses a competitive bid process following design (project fully-defined) to hire the General Contractor (GC) to perform the construction – usually on a lump sum basis, with a fee for managing risk. � The Design-Build model involves hiring a single firm – usually a GC or Engineer-Procure-Construct (EPC) firm – to provide all services from design through construction, with a fee for managing risk. The GC is hired after the project concept is complete, but before detailed design has begun. The GC is responsible for design as well as construction. Note that EPC firms have all services in-house, whereas a GC typically hires an A/E to join their team. Table 1 describes some of the distinguishing factors between delivery models, and will help Owners decide which model is best for them.

The impact of change At Gresham Smith, we understand and expect that the Owner will make changes from time to time. In fact, it is a normal part of a project, and you can’t manage change unless you plan for it. Early stage change may have little impact on the project, but later changes will typically impact the cost and schedule for design (and construction). As the graphic illustrates, the project team has the most influence over project budget and schedule during the early stages of the project, whereas the impact of change escalates rapidly as time goes by. (Fig 2) At the project kick-off meetings, we discuss how to handle potential change with the Owner – whether it be big or January/February 2020

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small. By understanding the common causes of change, we jointly work to make all changes prior to FEL-3. To plan for change, my recommendation to Owners is to include cost and schedule contingencies for both design and construction. When we recognise change, we talk about it with the Owner and develop a response to that change. Sometimes that change is within the A/E’s control and can be managed within the existing budget and schedule. Other times it is out of our hands, and that is when we discuss with the Owner how we are going to manage that change, with the goal of staying within the parameters of the budgeted funds and time. In cases where time and money must be increased, the Owner’s contingency is already in place to address the change.

Risk management is a team event In most cases, the Owner will ask the A/E to help them identify and manage project risk. As the graphic below illustrates, risks can come from many sources, including site conditions, building conditions, operational continuity, equipment supply, market forces, material supply and labor availability - just to name a few. Most of the risk factors are out of the control of the A/E, and many are out of the control of the Owner. Therefore, the entire project team must have a proactive approach to identifying risks and planning how to minimise the likelihood and impact of the risk. This proactive approach generally involves the creation and maintenance of a risk register at the beginning of the project that identifies the potential risks and their potential impact,

Fig 2

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along with a plan for what to do if that risk is realised. This early, overt attention to risk management reduces the incidence of changes later on in the project, saving both time and money, and helping to preserve the team relationships. “Value Engineering” (VE) At various points in the life cycle of a project, there will be “value engineering” discussions that explore ideas to improve the project’s overall value. These discussions should occur frequently - at least at each FEL stage gate review. The Owner should include time for the A/E to prepare an opinion of probable cost and schedule at each stage. Significant variances from plan can be addressed by the Owner and A/E with scope adjustments and value engineering changes before the design has been advanced too far. (The Owner may also engage a construction contractor or construction manager early in the project to obtain an additional opinion on cost, schedule and sequencing, as well as their ideas for value engineering improvements.) VE ideas may involve cost saving, schedule improvement, improved

architectural alu.indd 3


performance or enhanced aesthetics. When the FEL-3 stage gate review of cost and schedule is complete, there should not be a need for further VE discussions. When value engineering is performed throughout the project, the A/E’s effectiveness and efficiency is maximised and the value to the Owner is maximised. Unfortunately, when FEL reviews do not include a thorough assessment of the project cost and schedule, there may be an unexpected variance between the Owner’s expectations of cost and schedule and the construction bids. It is important for Owners to know that value engineering ideas occurring late in the design – and sometimes after design is complete – typically result in the A/E spending considerable time evaluating the ideas and making changes to the project design across all architecture and engineering disciplines to make sure the project is technically correct, wellcoordinated, and still meets the original project criteria. Due to the significance and complications of making such changes late in the process, the A/E will typically require additional time and money for the

purpose of saving substantial construction funds for the Owner. Substitutions Likewise, the construction contractor may make a request to substitute materials or equipment after the construction contract has been awarded. These substitution requests may have a significant impact to the A/E as they must devote substantial time evaluating the viability of the substitute – and if it is found acceptable – modifying the design, re-coordinating, and verifying the construction documents maintain the design intent. For this reason, Owners should only entertain substitutions that result in substantial benefits to them – net of the extra effort by the A/E. Regardless of the project delivery method chosen, the Engineering and Architecture services require the same level of engagement with the Owner. Ultimately, an Owner’s understanding of an A/E firm’s business process will allow a project to run smoother, be more efficient, foster better communication, and perhaps most importantly, avoid surprises! �

10/01/2020 10:46:10

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The new international standard for automotive lightweighting By John Sellors, Impression Technologies Ltd Environmental legislation to control emissions and reduce pollution continues to tighten across the globe. To meet these mandated challenges in the automotive sector, faith is increasingly being put in the use of battery electric vehicles, hybrids and more efficient internal combustion engine vehicles. A key concern for developers in all of these technologies is a simple one: The weight (mass) of each vehicle contributes to the amount of energy needed to move it. Therefore, the race is on to reduce the weight of every type of vehicle and increase their efficiency, leading to reduced emissions, increased range and improved performance. ‘Lightweighting’, as it has come to be known, has never been more important for designers and manufacturers. This has, in turn, led to a sustained increase in the use of aluminium as the material of choice when manufacturing components, or even entire vehicle structures. The use of aluminium to keep weight down is nothing new, but industry is on a constant mission to improve its structural strength, integrity, consistency, durability, safety and reduce cost. Moreover, manufacturers are always looking to make the material easier to work with, meaning improved, lower cost production processes that can use standard widely available alloys are a major focus of research. Any new process must balance all of these factors and operate increasingly efficiently, as well as affording a greater range of possibilities to a designer’s imagination. One highly innovative solution which meets all of these challenges and offers a step-change in light-weighting potential, to automotive, aerospace, rail, industrial and many other sectors, is Hot Form Quench (HFQ) technology, a patented hot forming technology process and matching simulation capability. This pioneering, unique and easy-toAluminium International Today

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adopt manufacturing process and forming simulation package allows automotive OEMs to form deep-drawn and complex shapes from high and ultra-high strength aluminium, replacing the use of steel or cold formed aluminium grades. The process is rapid and meets the cycle times required for low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. Encompassing the simulation, design and manufacturing of high-strength aluminium parts for the automotive industry. HFQ aims to advance global standards of aluminium processing, and, as a common solution for the entire supply ecosystem, facilitate co-operation and best practice sharing among OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, aluminium producers, and design software and equipment vendors. Manufacturing with aluminium in the 21st century Aluminium has already gained a foothold in the construction of vehicles, particularly with premium brands such as Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Audi, Aston Martin and Tesla. Ford has also pioneered the use of high-volume aluminium-bodied vehicles with its F-150 pick-up truck. According to

the research agency Ducker Worldwide, aluminium content in cars is set to increase by up to 30 per cent over the coming decade, driven by lightweighting in automotive manufacturing. Aluminium is increasingly being used in closures, bumpers, sub-frames and, specifically in the premium segment, the entire ‘body-in-white’ construction. Other aluminium products such as wheels, engine blocks and suspension components are now commonplace within the sector. However, using aluminium for sheet product in body-in-white construction, within budgets, is highly desirable and will generate additional significant advantages for volume car manufacturers. By utilising HFQ designed parts, manufacturers in the automotive sector can take advantage of the engineering flexibility to use a variety of different grades of aluminium, namely: 6xxx and ultra-high-strength 7xxx series aluminium. In future, high recycled content alloys, offering lower cost and major carbonsaving benefits, will be compatible with the HFQ process, which because of its process characteristics can maintain formability even with high levels of impurities, January/February 2020

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Above and below: HFQ process

which would otherwise render the alloy unsuitable. Linked to its inherent recycling benefits, HFQ also enables the creation of a closed-loop cycle of aluminium, as up to 90 per cent of this metal could be recycled at the end of the product life cycle. The HFQ process The first stage is to heat a standard heattreatable grade of aluminium sheet in a furnace until it reaches its solutionising temperature (c.550°C), depending on the grade of aluminium alloy. From the furnace, via an automated process, the blank is then transferred to a press and formed between a cold punch and die tool. The tools remain closed for five to 10 seconds to allow rapid cooling of the formed part, until the pressing is quenched. For all aluminium grades, quenching freezes the microstructure of the alloy in a supersaturated solid solution state. During the forming process, there is, in effect, virtually no cold-working of the aluminium alloy, thereby eliminating the need for complicated springback compensation in the part design. Subsequently, should a heat treatable aluminium alloy be used, the part can be artificially aged to further increase the strength of the pressing, thanks to the prior quenching method – taking a little over two hours for aluminium grade AA6082 to achieve peak strength. Partial artificial ageing may also be carried out, followed by full ageing after the part has been assembled into January/February 2020

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the vehicle structure. Full ageing in this scenario, means that HFQ pressing can take advantage of the heat generated during the paint bake process to achieve the highest strength. HFQ’s ability to improve formability widens the scope for automotive applications in terms of design freedom, process optimisation and achieving high levels of structural strength and stiffness within component Bill of Materials (BOM) cost budgets. Case Study: Aston Martin DB11 A-pillar A vehicle’s A-pillars are integral structural members running both sides of the windscreen and typically extend from below dash level upwards into the roof structure. The A-pillar must support roof crush loads under crash conditions, which impose substantial bending moments on the pillar, therefore the pillars are required to withstand major loads without excessive collapse. Aston Martin is one of the first OEMs to realise the benefits of designing A-pillars and other parts using HFQ. The desire to reduce overall weight and part complexity, but enhance torsional rigidity and structural integrity, allowed designers and engineers to work with HFQ from the earliest phase of design, to design and manufacture an A-pillar pressing without compromise. Aston Martin was able to maintain the desired design language of the DB11 as HFQ

was able to achieve tight radii (R/T 0.8), which reduced the width of A-pillar for better driver visibility. In addition, HFQ enabled a complex and deep drawn pillar to be formed in a single draw operation, while achieving high levels of strength in roof-crush performance. The single-draw operation also reduced tooling investment cost, as existing presses were adapted to produce high formability in deep sections of the A-pillar - a result previously not achievable using conventional cold production methods. Conclusion The commercialisation of HFQ Technology signifies the start of a new international standard and provides a collaborative roadmap for future light-weighting in the automotive industry. A full range of significant advantages can be delivered when HFQ forming is adopted at the outset of a design programme. As illustrated by Aston Martin’s DB11 use case, HFQ is already validated on premium vehicles. Complex parts for world-renowned manufacturers are already under evaluation as candidates for HFQ adoption, as this unique process has the potential to deliver simpler, stronger structures, to budget. Through HFQ, there is an opportunity to catalyse the greater adoption of highstrength aluminium alloys, allowing manufacturers to enhance and refine existing structures, while facilitating greater freedom in design and the creation of new body and chassis concepts. � Aluminium International Today

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INDUSTRY 4.0 41 5

How to realise the promises of Industry 4.0 Understand and control the behaviour of your processes and machines

Industry 4.0 is the latest industrial revolution and is rapidly transforming the industrial landscape. It is mainly concerned with increased integration of “cyber physical systems” into the manufacturing processes. This can be understood as the integration between the manufacturing operations systems and information and communication technologies (ICT). Technological developments, such as Internet-of-Things (IoT), increase the availability of product- and process data. Consequently, this brings along the opportunity to gain data-driven insights for both products and processes. Market Trends Forbes published that the main benefits of Industrial Data Analytics as perceived by the industrial companies come down to increased revenue, increased customer satisfaction and increased product quality. The technologies that play a role in obtaining these benefits are expected to change, where advanced analytics platforms, predictive analytics tools, and artificial intelligence will become increasingly important (Fig 1). This transformation fuels related markets, such as that of Artificial Intelligence (27% Aluminium International Today

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CAGR until 2025). However, compared to other domains, such as marketing and sales, the manufacturing domain is least impacted over the past three years. This may imply that there are still numerous opportunities for improvement. McKinsey & Company estimates that the digital revolution can increase revenue growth and margins in the manufacturing domain both up to about 10%. Interestingly, probably all companies stress the importance of digital transformation, from which nowadays most companies embed a digital aspect in their long-term strategy. However, only a few are capable of implementing their digital strategy into their organisations’ daily operations. These digital leaders leverage the benefits to gain competitive advantages and strengthen their market position, whereas all others have to pull out all the stops to follow their trace. It sometimes seems as if the majority of the companies doesn’t urge to put their digital strategy into practice or lack the knowledge or resources to do so. As described above, there is substantial traction in today’s digital market. Whereas companies used to process some but limited data to describe the

past performance using tools such as Microsoft Excel or ERP systems, companies increasingly seek to adopt more advanced data analytics techniques to leverage their availability of data. The underlying reason for this is to realise a shift from hindsight (“what happened?”) towards insight (“why did it happen?”), and foresight (“what will happen?”). Some large software providers, such as Siemens MindSphere, IBM Watson and GE Predix, offer a platform to implement these advanced data analytics techniques. However, although the included tools in these platforms may help to improve insights, significant data science knowledge and manual effort is required to establish these insights, let alone to make them actionable. “The barriers to success are dependency on data science knowledge, retrieving actionable information, and robust yet scalable solutions” Barriers to success Consequently, the current market offerings still bring some challenges to the table. First of all, companies that want to use these platforms still require data scientists that are able to the build the desired algorithms, and in the current market, data January/February 2020

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Question: which role do the following tehcnologies play in your industrial data analysis? - Now and in 5 years* Spreadsheets Advanced analytics platforms Business intelligence tools Predictive analytics tools Simulation tools Statistical package

Fig 2. Selection of benefits achieved by SIA

Artificial intelligence Event/streaming analytics tools Cognitive analytics Currently In 5 years

Edge/fog analytics

SIA retrieves existing + new data from existing infrastructure

SIA selects key parameters & autonomously adjusts optimal algorithms to predict future situations

Fig 1. Key technologies according to industrial companies to benefit from industrial data

Predictions are fed back into a user-friendly interface that provides valuable information for anyone to enable timely intervention

Fig 3 .Working of SIA in 3 steps

Fig 4. Available modules in SIA

scientists are scarce. Once a data analytics platform is in place, companies possessing Big Data are often overwhelmed with the unlimited opportunities and start to build algorithms without a predefined purpose. Although randomly deploying algorithms at the data may result in interesting insights, it often does not yield actionable information that can directly improve manufacturing processes. Finally, in case companies managed to design algorithms that provide actionable information, many struggle on how to deploy this into operation most efficiently. Is the designed solution, for instance, repeatable over time, or scalable to other production lines? “SIA is an easy-to-use SaaS tool that extracts value out of data in order to increase profitability, sustainability and quality of products” January/February 2020

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The Smart Industry Assistant Overcoming these barriers may seem hard, but there are now alternatives that enable the benefits of data science to everyone. One of them is the Smart Industry Assistant (SIA). SIA helps customers to embrace Industry 4.0 and leverage the according benefits in order to improve profitability, sustainability and quality of products and processes (Fig 2). SIA provides data driven insights in the processes, allowing for objective management and real-time process improvement. By offering advanced data science knowledge “as-a-service”, SIA can add value to any customers, irrespective of the amount of data available. It makes SIA an “plug-and-play”-tool that is extremely easy to use and does not require data scientists for either

implementation or operation. In addition, SIA is an affordable and scalable solution, which allows for incremental implementation and ultimately, a “Smart Factory”. How does SIA work? After implementation, SIA retrieves and merges the data from all available relevant sources included in the current infrastructure. The gathered data is preprocessed and analysed to determine the key parameters and autonomously predicts the future states of the product or process. The results of the data analysis are continuously visualised on a userfriendly interface (from operator level to management), enabling real-time monitoring of the process and timely intervention in case of product and/or process deviations (Fig 3). What is SIA? SIA is an artificial intelligence service that aims to improve products or production processes in the manufacturing domain. SIA is comprised of six modules, including Anomaly & Pattern Detection, Product Quality Control & Prediction, Monitoring & Reporting, Process Mining, Smart Maintenance, and Process Flow Optimisation & Automation (Fig 4). The different modules enable to support clients with a variety of data science related problems. Although the modules are standardised for easy and quick implementation, there is a possibility to create tailor-made solutions. A SIA Use Case To illustrate, SIA’s Product Quality Control & Prediction module is recently implemented to improve an aluminium extrusion process. The process exists of five stages, including extrusion, cooling, stretching, cutting and ageing. After cutting, a manual inspection is performed to guarantee product quality. First, the relevant data from each production stage is collected from the various sensors. The algorithms analyse the retrieved data and autonomously select the parameters that are critical to quality. These parameters are monitored and their values are used to predict the future quality of end-products. If the process Aluminium International Today

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INDUSTRY 4.0 43 5


Fig 5 SIA enables timely interventions with real-time prioritized warnings & concrete actions

operates smoothly, and predicted product quality is as desired, the interface shows the process without error messages. If the future quality is predicted as insufficient, the interface directly notifies the operators with error messages (Fig 5). The error message provides more detailed information about the content of the error, and recommends an actionable solution, such that timely intervention can prevent the products from being scrapped (Fig 6). For this specific use case, implementation at only one production line resulted into a scrap reduction of 50% and an EBIT increase of 6%. As there are many similar production lines, there is significant additional potential for further optimisation. Conclusion The need to extract value out of data is increasing and cannot longer be questioned. The real question is where, how and what to deploy. Finding the answers to these questions is essential for the long-term profitability of any manufacturing company. �

Fig 6. SIA provides actionable recommendations and enables root-cause analysis

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Focus on: Slug manufacturing Last year, while visiting Canadian manufacturers and suppliers, Nadine Bloxsome* met with Sylvain Brisseau** at the Ball plant in Sherbrooke to ďŹ nd out about the world of aluminium slug manufacturing and the sustainable beneďŹ ts it offers to packaging products.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Vice President & General Manager, Ball Advanced Aluminium Technologies January/February 2020

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1. Ball is recognised as a sustainable enterprise – how is the company working to apply these standards across its aluminium slug manufacturing process? At Ball, sustainability is one of our top priorities. Our goal is to make aluminium packaging the most sustainable package economically, environmentally and socially. We offer sustainable packaging solutions to help our customers achieve their goals and provide what consumers want. Ball’s aluminium beverage cans, bottles and cups, as well as impact extruded aluminium aerosol cans, have a unique sustainability profile and many advantages when compared with other packaging materials. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable. Also Ball’s development of ReAL®, a specific patented alloy for the world’s first lighter weight aluminium aerosol can expresses our commitment to innovation and sustainability. ReAL® with up to 20% reduction in can weight. ReAl and the subsequent light weighting provide cost and environmental benefits such as a lower product carbon footprint and using less aluminium For example, we estimate that a 20% lighter 150 ml aerosol can has 18% reduced carbon footprint. One additional sustainability initiative was announced earlier this year that has a direct impact on the environmental impact of our aluminium slugs. In April, Ball announced it had entered into virtual power purchase agreements (for wind and solar), which allow us to address our entire North American electricity load by the end of 2021. We are also looking to implement similar agreements in other regions where we operate. In addition, Ball has an ambitious carbon footprint reduction goal, which

Aluminium International Today

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we are on target to meet. � Water Use: Between 2014 and 2018, Ball’s Sherbrooke plant reduced its absolute annual water consumption by 9.8% � Waste: Between 2014 and 2018, Ball’s Sherbrooke plant reduced its absolute waste to landfill by 35.3% � Electricity Use: Between 2012 and 2018, Ball’s Verona plant reduced its absolute annual electricity use by 4.6% � Between 2015 and 2018, Sherbrooke’s and Verona’s combined absolute Scope 2 market-based emissions decreased 13.6%. In the same time, Sherbrooke’s and Verona’s combined Scope 1 emissions decreased 2.3%. 2. What are the main types of packaging that are produced from aluminium slugs? The most common forms of packaging that utilize aluminium slugs are aerosol cans for personal care and beauty products such as hair sprays, sun screens, and deodorants, aluminium tubes for toothpaste, pharmaceutical creams or hair dyes), and aluminium bottles for canned beverages including beer, wine, and coffee. We currently supply customers in all of these industries and product categories. 3. What other market areas are slugs utilised for manufacturing applications? Aluminium slugs are an incredibly versatile raw material for a wide variety of products. The industries utilising slugs range from consumer goods (aerosols, beverages, pharmaceuticals, fire extinguishers, marker and pen shells), to automotive (fuel pumps, battery and motor housings, clutch components and more), and electronics (heat sinks,

sensor housings, lamp housings). There are endless opportunities for aluminium slugs, and we are planning to expand into new categories. Although slugs are most commonly associated with the impact extrusion process both in packaging and technical manufacturing industries, they’re also a great fit for many forging and machining applications as well. 4. How many facilities does Ball produce aluminium slugs at? With 30 years of experience in slug making, Ball Corporation has two manufacturing facilities in), Sherbrooke (Canada), and Verona (the United States) as well as one further joint venture in France with an annual capacity of over 90,000 tons. These three plants supply customers around the world. 5. How are operations monitored and quality control applied during the manufacturing process? We recognise that when it comes to materials for automotive components, electronics and pressurised containers such as aerosol cans, the highest level of commitment to precision and quality is absolutely imperative. Our quality management system – ISO 9001 – is built upon rigorous monitoring of critical parameters in the manufacturing process. Each step, from the preparation of the melt furnace to the final packaging of the finished product, is analysed for alloy consistency and dimensional accuracy to ensure high quality products. With increasing demand on new products, such as automotive safety parts and aerosol containers, we recognise that any metallurgical pollution or defect can cause major risk to our customers. Therefore, we have invested into robust control systems and equipment to protect them.

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Like Ball’s aluminium beverage cans and cups, impact extruded aluminium aerosol cans have a unique sustainability profile and many advantages when compared with other packaging materials. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and has high recycling rates around the world. When emptied, an aluminium aerosol container can be collected and recycled, again and again, with no loss of quality, making aluminium cans the most valuable containers in the recycling stream. Also Ball’s development of ReAL®, the world’s first lighter weight aluminium aerosol can expresses our commitment to innovation and sustainability.

environmental clean-ups across North America. We also have a Global Recycling Can Challenge for our manufacturing facilities and employees, which seeks to provide education about the benefits of recycling and help increase recycling rates in the communities where Ball operates. We are also members of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, which promotes sustainable aluminium sourcing and enable the aluminium industry to demonstrate responsibility and provide independent and credible assurance of performance. This program strengthens the responsible sourcing framework we launched at Ball in 2013 with partners to ensure that we deliver more sustainable products to our customers and consumers. 9. What does the future hold for aluminium slug manufacturing and impact extrusions? Predicted

6. Have there been any developments in automation/ Industry 4.0 across the slug manufacturing or impact extrusion process? “Smart production” with efficient solutions for automation and equipment connectivity is definitely an area of improvement for our industry. At Ball, we are willing to set the standards for manufacturing, and are investing into technologies to drive efficiency, and improve the working conditions of our employees. 7. How is the current market for impact extruded packaging products? Has there been an increase in demand for aluminium-packaged products over plastic? Yes. Consumer needs and trends are constantly evolving, and belief-driven buying is becoming mainstream around the world across ages and incomes. According to various studies, consumers believe brands should help improve the environment, and are actively buying more environmentally friendly products than five years ago. Consequently, brands are expected to be sustainable. At Ball, we’re offering sustainable aluminium packaging solutions to help our customers meet their goals and provide what consumers want. January/February 2020

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We have certainly seen an increase in requests for information for new products in aluminium cans and aerosols, as more and more companies look for alternatives to plastic packaging. This represents a big opportunity for our company and we are putting a lot of efforts to act on it. 8. How is Ball working with consumers to promote aluminium as a sustainable packaging choice? When we completed the acquisition of Rexam in 2016, Ball publicly committed to making the can the most sustainable package in the beverage supply chain. We are actively engaging with various stakeholders about the positive attributes of aluminium packaging. A significant part of this is focusing on sustainable sourcing and working with partners to maximise recycling rates. Through the Ball Foundation, Ball and its employees support a number of recycling organisations around the world that aim to increase metal packaging recycling rates, improve collection processes and provide education about the benefits of recycling. As an example, the Foundation supports The Recycling Partnership, reaching 1.2 million U.S. households to increase recovery of recyclable materials at the curb, and the Can’d Aid and Surfrider Foundations on recycling initiatives and

development/challenges/solutions? Aluminium is a great material, recyclable and sustainable and with a prime resource (Bauxite) abundantly available. Its properties of anti-corrosion, light isolation, heat transfer, malleability, low weight, and increased strength are a perfect fit for a variety of applications. When you couple its benefits to the impact extrusion process starting from aluminium punched slugs, you have one of the most economically efficient, safe, flexible and reliable processes to develop products for a variety of markets like packaging, automotive components, electronics devices and more. As a global leader in both aluminium slugs and impact-extruded cans, Ball aims to leverage the inherent benefits of aluminium to meet the changing needs of our customers and consumers. Whether that is finding new ways to provide aluminium slugs, coil or plate for lighter weight automotive components or electric vehicles, or further improving the carbon footprint of metal packaging. As consumers shift away from plastic, and automakers are leading a revolution with the development of light electrical vehicles, we see great opportunities for continued product development of aluminium components and packaging too. � Aluminium International Today

10/01/2020 10:55:08

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What are the main value drivers of aluminium in Kazakhstan? By Benedikt Sobotka* Producing aluminium is the result of a sophisticated manufacturing process that relies on a proven combination of heavy infrastructure and innovative technologies. Until recently, this combination was the keystone of the industry’s growth, but climate change and a growing call from stakeholders for “clean and sustainable” processes mean sustainability is now an imperative for the mining sector. At Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a leading diversified natural resources producer, sustainability shapes the operational processes and monitoring practices across the Group and its affiliates. ERG’s key aluminium assets include JSC Aluminium of Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan Aluminium Smelter (KAS). Their production is predominantly shipped to Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and other CIS countries, Eastern Europe, Italy and Turkey. A holistic approach to business sustainability ERG’s 2025 Strategy lays the groundwork for a series of processes and guidelines oriented towards “business sustainability” across the Group. This strategy aims to generate long-term value for ERG’s stakeholders. In Kazakhstan, ERG has deployed largescale operational initiatives to maintain and improve the performance of its aluminium facilities, whilst monitoring and mitigating any potential negative environmental impact. In this respect,

the large-scale equipment replacement programme undertaken by the facilities in the Pavlodar region is reflective of the efforts being made across the Group. The aluminium production cycle in Kazakhstan includes three processing stages: bauxite mining, alumina production and primary aluminium production. ERG’s ownership over the branches of JSC Aluminium of Kazakhstan’s unit and production sites allows the company to exercise rigorous monitoring and apply sustainable policies across the whole supply chain. Tackling air pollution and carbon emissions ERG has implemented a long-term Air Emissions Strategy which intends to bring its aluminium assets in Kazakhstan further in line with relevant EU air quality standards relating to particulate matter. As part of the new strategy to which ERG plans to dedicate EUR224m, upgrades are being implemented at Aluminium of Kazakhstan with the use of an advanced filtration system and gas treatment technologies, in order to reduce the emissions to air and improve overall energy efficiency. The reconstruction and instalment of electrostatic air filters at Aluminium of Kazakhstan which use automation technology is being implemented by ThyssenKrupp. The reconstruction of the first two filters, completed earlier this year, is expected to reduce emissions of particulate matter into the atmosphere by

2,400 tons per annum. The new filters will be automated and equipped with both modern process control systems and systems to monitor pollutant concentration in flue gas. The full replacement is expected to be completed within the next decade. JSC Aluminium of Kazakhstan also continuously monitors atmospheric emissions from the new OPSIS air monitoring station using DOAS technology. The station monitors air quality, which simultaneously assesses the concentration of several different gases. These deliver real-time air quality data to the environmental team, giving them an accurate, timely assessment of short-term exposure levels. This enables the company to adjust production activity accordingly to minimise the risk of excessive emissions. Further to ERG’s efforts to monitor its enterprises’ environmental impact, in 2018 the Group commissioned a report on the carbon footprint of its primary aluminium products. The analysis covered the entire cycle of metal production, from feedstock to commodity-grade aluminium. The assessment focused on the carbon intensity of the products manufactured. Conclusions of the report showed that over the period that the analysis took place, the estimated carbon footprint followed a downward trend, while the output of products increased. The results clearly demonstrate the positive repercussions of ERG’s operational initiatives on air quality and energy efficiency.

*CEO of Eurasian Resources Group January/February 2020

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Reducing energy consumption The production of slotted anodes, launched in 2019, is yet another project that reflects the Group’s increased sustainability focus. By raising the current intensity in existing pots, the Group also hoped to increase the output of primary aluminium. The project has already yielded encouraging results: the energy consumption in the pot line has decreased, while the technological characteristics of the electrolysis process have improved. Alongside the initiative, changes are being made to the shape of the upper part of the anodes to reduce their weight. Whilst still in their early stages, the changes being introduced will have a positive impact on the technical and technological characteristics of the electrolysis process and will enable an optimisation of the anode burning cycle in pots. This process is expected to reduce the amount of waste from anode recycling, which will have a positive impact in terms of environmental protection and future aluminium production. ERG also intends to implement a project to change stub holes in anode blocks at the carbon plant of Kazakhstan Aluminium


Smelter. The innovation will help to reduce voltage losses at the interface between a stud and an anode, reducing power consumption during aluminium production. Currently, the project is at the implementation stage. A wider commitment to supporting local communities ERG believes that sustainable development should not be confined to the premises of its facilities but should involve supporting the local communities where our businesses have been operating for over 25 years. In the Pavlodar and Kostanay regions, ERG has partnered with local governments to support the development of regional football and volleyball, with total investments in infrastructure exceeding US$6m. The Group has also been involved in the construction of an ice rink, the Lisakovsky Technical College and the renovation of the Pavlodar museum. An extensive programme is underway to improve employees’ living conditions. This includes both major repairs and the construction of new onsite components such as modular buildings in worker camps and amenity buildings with shower rooms and a

laundry facility. ERG is also continuing to implement its housing programme. In Pavlodar alone, almost 500 employees of Kazakhstan Aluminium Smelter and JSC Aluminium of Kazakhstan live in houses built over the past few years. Accommodation for 216 employees and their families is currently under construction, with completion expected in 2020. Conclusion ERG views sustainable development as a broad concept that extends beyond the responsible management of the impact of its activities on others. It must also ensure that the business is configured to generate value well into the future and deliver ongoing benefits for its stakeholders, from shareholders to local communities. Sustainability policies are particularly beneficial when integrated across the supply chain, from extraction to production and distribution, and complemented with social initiatives to support local communities. As the Group marks the 25th anniversary of its presence in Kazakhstan, it aims to pursue and strengthen this vision across its operations. �

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The monitoring system from Schuler can eliminate costly die repairs, downtime, and even complete production stoppages. © Schuler

Schuler’s system for die monitoring With the help of cameras, foreign bodies and other potential hazards can be detected before systems and parts become damaged. A wrench left behind in the die is every press operator’s nightmare. When the machine starts up, damage to both the die and the part being formed is inevitable. And a brief moment of carelessness like this can even have consequences for the entire system. To address this problem, Schuler has now developed its Visual Die Protection, a camera-assisted monitoring system that can eliminate costly die repairs, downtime, and even complete production stoppages. In Visual Die Protection, not only do cameras detect the presence of foreign bodies such as wrenches or punch scraps: The system also checks whether the die is properly connected and verifies that the blanks have been correctly inserted, formed and removed. It is equally able to recognise both cracks in the part itself and potential damage to the centering and ejector pins. If any abnormalities are found, the press is stopped to prevent the situation from getting worse. For this to be possible, the cameras first create reference images of the relevant die before production begins. During this imaging process, operators mark critical areas that require particularly accurate monitoring, such as the centering and ejector pins. While the production process is running, artificial intelligence is then used on a separate computer to perform a real-time comparison of current images January/February 2020

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with the original condition of the die, thereby allowing an immediate response if any discrepancies are found. Schuler is happy to provide support for initial system configuration upon request. A feasibility analysis using a mobile image

processing system is also possible. By integrating additional cameras, the system – for which a patent is currently pending – can also be expanded to monitor the scrap chutes and other areas of the machine, for example. �

Among other things, the cameras detect the presence of foreign bodies, incorrect connections, and damage to the die or the part. © Schuler

Aluminium International Today

08/01/2020 12:46:08

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Improving productivity and efficiency in die casting With increased global competition driving the search for production efficiency improvements in the die casting industry, Tim Butler of Ultraseal International Group discusses how innovations in die release agents and spray technology can support manufacturers to improve productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

In today’s die casting industry cost optimisation, improving productivity and output quality are key drivers, particularly in the face of increased global competition and the need to produce ever-more complex components. Developments in the automotive industry have led to a shift in die casting towards more complex, lightweight, components in powertrain, chassis and structural parts. The growth in chassis and structural parts in particular has led to investment in larger high pressure die casting machines and more expensive tooling. This development has subsequently shone a light on all aspects of die casting operations, even down to the role of the die release agent used, as manufacturers look to improve levels of productivity, process reliability, output quality and increase die life. To understand how the choice of die release agent can significantly contribute to enhancing production efficiency, cost reduction and business success, it’s worth taking a look at the advantages new technology can bring. Efficiently maximising coverage If we think about the main purpose of a release agent – to facilitate clean part release and provide a release film to prevent die soldering – achieving uniform coverage is critical to both process reliability and the overall quality of the final product. The use of traditional water-based lubricants sees the liquid evaporate when it comes into contact with the hot steel die, leaving an amount of lubricated coating. This is a critical stage as too much lubricant means the liquid cannot evaporate fast enough when the molten metal is injected; while too little lubricant could result in poor material flow or die-soldering, ultimately causing surface defects and January/February 2020

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porosity, compromising the overall quality of the part. As the industry evolves to meet current demand for complex single piece components, die complexity is making this issue increasingly prevalent as manufacturers face the challenge of achieving a consistent level of lubricant coverage across the entire mold. This includes cavities where excessive amounts of water-based lubricants typically remain, causing cold flow, porosity and staining on the casting surface. The solution to this problem lies in electrostatic spray technology. Developed by Lubrolene, WFR-EC has an electrostatic charge added to the die release agent which, when applied through a specially developed electrostatic spray gun, creates a wrap-around effect and ensures uniform coverage of the release agent, irrespective of die complexity. The application of Lubrolene WFR-EC through electrostatic spray further reduces soldering problems and facilitates a move away from waterbased lubricants to ensure greater, and more consistent, levels of quality in die cast components. The addition of electrostatic charge to Lubrolene WFR-EC also improves adhesion properties and provides more consistent oil film formation – critical in achieving uniform die coverage and a smooth release. Beyond benefits around quality, greater percentage levels of adhesion lead to reduced material wastage and improved cycle times. Typically, applying a water-based die release agent with an air spray gun achieves just 4% adhesion efficiency. Using Lubrolene’s specially developed spray gun technology improves the efficient application of Lubrolene WFR-EC and achieves >80% adhesion efficiency when compared to traditional water-based die lubricants.

Increasing process speed with reduced spray time When looking to improve the efficiency of a process, it is often easy to overlook stages which have always been executed in a particular way. In die casting, the application of die lubricant is one such example. As a short-cycle and repetitive process, the saving of just a few seconds in the die casting process can lead to significant time savings and impact directly on productivity and costs as long as the tool has been designed accordingly. If we look at standard air spray application guns, they need to spray from multiple angles to deliver full die coverage and adhesion. In practice, that takes time and can compromise quality with uneven levels of coverage – particularly in more complex molds. By using electrostatic attraction, however, the Lubrolene electrostatic gun can uniformly cover and adhere to a much broader area, without the need to spray from various angles. Increasing uptime and reducing costs through extended tool life While quickly maximising die coverage can help manufacturers to realise greater levels of efficiency and productivity, there is a further benefit to Lubrolene WFR-EC which perhaps holds the most significant results – extended tool service life. Overall, Lubrolene WFR-EC supports manufacturers within the die casting industry to work more effectively towards meeting their challenges of increasing output and production efficiency and delivering cost savings while producing more complex components that meet industry demands. To learn more about Lubrolene, contact the Ultraseal team on 024 7625 8444 or visit www.ultraseal-impregnation.com. �

Aluminium International Today

13/01/2020 10:49:47


Infrasound innovates the manufacturing industry with a completely new cooling method Two years ago, Gestamp Hardtech started to collaborate with Infrasonik, an innovation development company that specialises in infrasound technology, to develop a completely new method of cooling sheet metal in their press-hardening lines. The investment has paid off. Cycle times can be reduced, and the cooling becomes more even than with alternative methods. The next step for Infrasonik is to enter the aluminium industry.

Cooling metal at industrial scale with infrarsound, is that possible? Why do you want to do it? And how does one think of developing such a technology? The questions become many when the level of innovation is high. Infrasound used in technical applications is still a completely unknown concept for many, but Mats Olsson, CEO and founder of Infrasonik, believes that it will soon change when more people realize the potential. For him, who has spent most of his career developing the infrasound technology, it is very natural that high-intensity infrasound can be used to accelerate and improve processes. The sound creates a very powerful turbulence with a particle velocity of the media exposed to the sound of up to 70 m / s. By comparison, hurricanes are defined as winds above 33 m / s. The turbulence can be used for various purposes, for example for cooling, drying and combustion. For example, Infrasonik has previously successfully developed an exclusive infrasound barbecue together with Röshults, which can be found in the consumer market. The fact that the next project became just a cooling machine for cooling plates to one of the largest subcontractors in the automotive industry was a so-called “lucky coincidence”. Mats met Martin Jonsson, R&D manager at Gestamp Hardtech at a research group meeting at Luleå University of Technology. Together, they identified the possibility that infrasound could potentially be the solution to one of their challenges. Now, two years later, the technology is fully developed and tested in a pressure curing line at Gestamp Hardtech in Luleå. The result of the innovation work meets all hopes. - The pace of development has been high, and the project goals have been achieved. This means that the cycle time can be reduced, while the cooling becomes considerably smoother than with other methods, which increases the quality of the final product, says Helen, Business Developer at Infrasonik. Other advantages are that less glow shell is formed, and that the wear on the pressing tool is reduced. Now Infrasonik’s main focus is to spread the cooling technology to new markets so that it can create value for more customers. – We believe the biggest potential in other verticals is in the aluminium industry as they would benefit greatly from our technology, Helen finishes.

Figure 1. Cooling box which blanks passes through

Helen Mattsson, Business Developer Helen.mattsson@infrasonik.se +46 72 856 21 16 Figure 2. InfraCooler

HOW IT WORKS: 1. Infrasound makes nitrogen gas move back and forth in the cooling box around the blanks with a particle velocity at 70 m/s and with turbulent flow 2. Heat is transferred from the blank to the gas 3. Heat is transferred from the gas to the water-cooled fins

Mats Olsson, CEO and inventor

January/February 2020


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Aludium’s women in aluminium Since we are little girls we receive messages from our social environment that construct the stereotypes we use to interpret the world surrounding us. When we imagine a working woman, the first idea coming to our minds is not a woman in a manufacturing plant wearing helmet and safety boots. In the fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty was not an aluminium alloys specialist nor was The Little Mermaid a Cold Rolling Process Engineer and this is the main reason why we work at Aludium to reinforce women’s presence in our factories. We don’t have the capability to change the education pathways nor the social stereotypes, but we can work to increase our presence in our company structure. The 2019 world population was divided in a 50.5% men and 49.5% women. In the countries where Aludium is operating (Spain and France), working women percentage is the 45%, most of them employed in the service sector and below

the 20% of them in the industry and almost getting the 18% in metal sector. Working to become Aludium into a non-discrimination company and generate a suitable breeding ground for the equality of opportunities makes us work consistently and constantly. Since 2015, when we were 13.53% women, to 2019, year closed being 18.68% women, we have worked in different projects with a clear focus: Increase the ratio of women in the company. We have several internal policies in place to meet this goal: � Priority to hire women to fill in the open positions. If a woman meets all the profile requirements, we hire her. � We have arranged study grants for women with professional schools specialised in mechanical, electricity and/ or electronics and we support the cost of their studies.

� We work in communicating the equality of opportunities in the University, where we offer, at least, three Engineering internships per year to women. Only the 12% of the Engineers are women. � We also collaborate with foundations that support the non-discrimination practices in the labor market.

In 2018 we communicated our Company Equality Plan where we included different initiatives to increase our women population and become Aludium in an interesting and stable company to work for. In Aludium the 90% of the women are permanent employees. It is not easy to find women to work in our sector, and being aware of that, we keep our focus on maintaining the current implanted processes and develop new initiatives to engage them. Let me introduce you to some of our “Women in Aluminium”...

How long have you been working in the Aluminium Sector? Almost 15 years. All of them here in Aludium Alicante. Why did you decide to work in an Aluminium manufacturing plant? How did you get the job? I was working in Services Sector and one day my father, who worked here all his career, came home saying that in the plant they were looking for women to work as operators in the manufacturing lines and I applied to the job and got it. The decision I made was based on the stability and career options the company gave me.


What is the daily basis of your role? I work in a Slitter Machine. We prepare the tools to introduce the coil in the slitter and cut the bands the customer uses to manufacture lipsticks and perfume diffusers. Would you encourage other women to work in this sector? Yes, I encourage every woman to work in this sector. The job position is stable, and you can perform a career. Women, in general, are very perfectionist and this sector is pure perfection, we are the perfect fit. Aluminium International Today

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How long have you been working in the Aluminium Sector? I have been working in this Aluminium world for three years.


Why did you decide to work in an Aluminium manufacturing plant? How did you get the job? When I finished the degree in electronics and automation engineering, I had the target of getting experience in a big industrial environment. Aludium, one of the biggest factories in Alicante, brought me this opportunity as internship in the engineering department. During this time, I have been learning about the different steps of aluminium transformation and the different process lines in each of the projects that I have been working for. Last year I was coordinating the project for the restart of Alicante casthouse. I had the opportunity to learn about melting and casting process. I have also learned about cold rolling, and different finishing processes as degreasing, cutting-edge, multislitting, tension levelling... What is the daily basis of your role? In my job as engineer coordinator, every day is different. I am coordinating the Capex projects of Alicante plant. Every project has a defined scope, schedule and budget and are divided in several phases. At the beginning it consists in defining the

How long have you been working in the Aluminium Sector? Since 2000. 19 years now. I started in Alcoa Alicante and then was moved to S. Ciprian Factory as Laboratory Supervisor. In May 2005 I came back to Alicante and here I’ve developed different projects related to Casthouse and finishing Process Engineering, Environment and from July 2017 I am assigned 100% to CINDAL Analysis Laboratory.


Why did you decide to work in an Aluminium manufacturing plant? How did you get the job? I was born in Avilés, a very industrial small town in the North of Spain. Almost all the population work directly or indirectly in metal factories (aluminium, Steel, Zinc…). My father worked all his professional life in an aluminium factory, in the maintenance department, so aluminium has always been part of my life. What is the daily basis of your role? From CINDAL we support the sales and

January/February 2020

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scope of the project, contact adequate suppliers, study and analyze the techic and economic proposals and after that adjust the budget again. Second phase is the development of the project with the basic and detail engineering. Here we work together people from different departments of Aludium and external suppliers. Last phase of the projects is the installation and commissioning in which we have to assure that we will get the targets established. In Aludium Alicante Engineering Department we also work for the continuous improvement of the different process lines. Beside of this, I am also the responsible of the energy management system. Following the ISO50001 indications, we work for the continuous improvement in energy matters. Would you encourage other women to work in this sector? Of course. Aluminium industry is an interesting sector with lots of opportunities to develop a career. I would like to encourage women to choose studies and jobs related to the industrial environment. Despite this sector has been traditionally considered as a men world, I think that it is the moment for women to open our minds and contemplate new areas of work.

manufacturing initiatives to develop new processes (optimisation) and/or new products (Innovation). Due our extensive specialised knowledge and the laboratory machinery we have, together with the ISO 17025 certification we gained, we also offer services to process control to our customers and other aluminium manufacturing companies. I prepare aluminium samples in the laboratory to prepare trials and reports. I also member of the “sustainability multidisciplinary team” and Leader of the Audit to get and maintain the ASI Certification. Would you encourage other women to work in this sector? Of course. Aluminium sector is an important engine to move Spanish economy. Beside the macro economic reasons and being focused on the planet needs, aluminium is a very sustainable material with a very high recycling capacity and very durable as well. This makes it a strong alternative to plastic

Aluminium International Today

10/01/2020 11:04:15

8th International Conference on Electrodes and Support Services for Primary Aluminium Smelters Iceland 13-14 May 2020

The future is now Innovation and new technologies of electrodes and support services for primary aluminium smelters

The International Conference, ICESS, focuses on Electrodes and support services for primary aluminium smelters. Since 2001, about 830 people have attended the conference, with delegates coming from 15-20 countries. The focus of the conference always includes new developments, automation, increasing productivity, environmental issues, as well as prospects and challenges in the aluminium industry. The 8th ICESS conference will be held 13th – 14th May 2020 in a new location, Egilsstaðir in east Iceland (www.austurland.is), about 40 minutes from the Alcoa Fjardaal smelter (www.fjardaal.is). Emphasis will be on Automation in aluminium smelter operations. New possibilities are becoming viable because of rapid development of sensors and Artificial Intelligence, including self-driving vehicles. This development presents opportunities to increase productivity of smelter operations. Implementation of these new options will be addressed and discussed. During the conference, delegates will have opportunity to visit the Alcoa Fjardaal smelter in scenic Reydarfjordur. Other notable places within reach from Egilsstadir are Fljótsdalsvirkjun hydropower plant and Hálslón reservoir at Kárahnjúkar dam. For more information see the conference website www.electrodes.is. Speakers include: • Barry Sadler, Net Carbon Consulting Pty Ltd • Kristján Leósson, DT Equipment

• •

Gudmundur I. Einarsson, Alcoa Fjardaal Gudmundur Gunnarsson, Innovation Center Iceland

To submit an abstract, please contact Birgir Johannesson at birgirj@nmi.is.

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How long have you been working in the Aluminium Sector? Eight years. The eight of them here in Aludium.


Why did you decide to work in an Aluminium manufacturing plant? How did you get the job? Being honest, the opportunity appeared in a temporal employment agency, they called me for a temporary contract and in a couple of months Aludium hired me directly as permanent employee.

What is the daily basis of your role? I work in the rotary furnace in Amorebieta Casthouse. I prepare all the scrap and download it into the furnace to be melted. It’s a very dynamic position and time goes by very fast. I move from the cabin to the floor and is awesome to be witness of the process that becomes scrap into liquid aluminium. Would you encourage other women to work in this sector? Definitely! I’m very happy with the decision I made eight years ago.

How long have you been working in the Aluminium Sector? Almost 15 years, all of them in this factory. Why did you decide to work in an Aluminium manufacturing plant? How did you get the job? I’m the third generation in my family working in this plant. My grandfather worked here and my father too, both of them are already retired. When the opportunity to start working here came, I had no doubts and caught it in a second and I hope to be, in some years, the 3rd generation of my family retired working for Aludium. This place is part of my DNA. What is the daily basis of your role? Every day is different. Depending on the needs of the finishing area and based on the orders we cut coils, shates and sheets an prepare the finish good with the customer specifications. I also work as forklift driver if needed.


Would you encourage other women to work in this sector? Absolutely! My experience is very positive.

January/February 2020

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Aluminium International Today

10/01/2020 11:04:20


Optimize your alumina calcination plant operation Combining real-time plant measurements with our profound process know-how, the Outotec® Pretium Calciner Optimizer ensures operational stability by continuously assessing process variables, automatically detecting and correcting detrimental process fluctuations, and calculating possible operational improvements. The system comprises several digital modules that support process operation in alumina calcination plants.

BENEFITS: • • • • •

Reduces specific thermal and electrical energy consumption Enhances operational stability Detects and corrects detrimental process conditions, such as sudden changes in hydrate moisture Makes fully automated load changes Increases operator’s situational awareness

BOX 1 • • • • •

Reduced thermal and electrical energy consumption Better product quality Improved situation awareness and fault detection Minimized process fluctuation Higher plant availability in the long term

The Outotec Calciner Optimizer is a digital solution tailored to your specific process challenges. It ensures your plant and equipment operate at peak performance without the need for mechanical adjustments or redesign. You benefit from optimized process operation around the clock, leading to increased annual production and improved profitability. HOW IT WORKS The Outotec Calciner Optimizer is connected to your plant’s distributed control system (DCS) and monitors all relevant process variables in real time. It uses our process know-how together with heat and mass balances to calculate the optimized process operation modes and set points. Using detailed models of specific equipment, the system ensures that all parts of the process plant are operating optimally, either by creating targeted advice for operators or by automatically adjusting process parameters. Compared to traditional manual operation via the DCS, the Outotec Calciner Optimizer helps you to operate the plant more efficiently. The tool exchanges information with your plant’s DCS and provides real-time assessment of the process, helping to drastically reduce the workload while increasing operational safety. Using the operator interface in the control room, operators can quickly and easily adjust high-level process parameters, process

limits, and production targets. In contrast to traditional manual operation – where the focus is only on a small subsection of the plant’s available measurements – the Outotec Calciner Optimizer system combines many process variables in order to reach conclusions. Product quality models are adjusted according to your specific plant and operational conditions. Integration of these quality estimation models in the Outotec Calciner Optimizer will assist your operators to match production targets. This digital solution comprises estimations of critical process parameters, such as hydrate moisture. The valuable information it provides to operators enhances their situational awareness and reduces reaction times at critical operational events. UNLOCKING YOUR PLANT’S FULL POTENTIAL Running your plant with the Outotec Calciner Optimizer will unlock the full potential of your existing equipment. You can expect to see several operational improvements, see box 1 While a digital solution allows remote monitoring, benchmarking reveals further plant potential to achieve operational excellence. Read more on www.outotec.com/aluminum January/February 2020


08/01/2020 12:48:06

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