Aluminium International Today July/August 2020

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INDUSTRY NEWS

CASTHOUSE TECHNOLOGY

MINING & REFINING

LIGHTWEIGHTING

www.aluminiumtoday.com July/August 2020—Vol.33 No.4

THE JOURNAL OF ALUMINIUM PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING

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CONTENTS 1

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2 2 Volume 33 No. 4 – July/August 2020 Editor: Nadine Bloxsome Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855115 nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com

INDUSTRY NEWS

IAI 6 Optimism lies ahead post-COVID

CASTHOUSE TECHNOLOGY

MINING & REFINING

LIGHTWEIGHTING

www.aluminiumtoday.com July/August 2020—Vol.33 No.4

THE JOURNAL OF ALUMINIUM PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING

Sales

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Sales Director: Ken Clark kenclark@quartzltd.com Tel: +44 (0)1737 855117

MARKET UPDATE 8 Russia may face steep decline of

Production Editor: Annie Baker

Sales Manager: Nathan Jupp nathanjupp@quartzltd.com Tel: +44 (0)1737 855027

NEWS

COVER

Editorial

LEADER

aluminium consumption this year

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FURNACES 31 Do you know what truly happens in your

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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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SUSTAINABILITY 36 Striving for Sustainability

VEHICLE LIGHTWEIGHTING 39 Porosity sealing is key for Next-Generation

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Hybrid & Electric Vehicles

AEROSPACE 42 Using aluminium in the aerospace industry

DIGITAL TWINS 44 Strength in times of uncertainty

SEARCH FOR ALUMINIUM INTERNATIONAL TODAY

AUGMENTED REALITY 46 Empowering front line workers with

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2 COMMENT

ALUMINIUM 2020 Postponed

We will meet again Our top story for this issue is the news that the ALUMINIUM 2020 Show, which was due to take place in October has followed in the footsteps of a number of other industry events and made the decision to postpone until May 2021. This is never an easy decision to make, as we know from the Future Aluminium Forum, but it has to be right for all involved and the health and safety of exhibitors and visitors is of course paramount. While networking is still limited to Zoom calls and we are all guilty of snooping into colleagues spare bedroom backdrops on video chats, it is clear that we are living in very different times. We are all more connected than ever, but our interaction is limited. Everyone has had to adapt in a certain way, whether this is in business development, or simply coping with new situations and restrictions on a daily basis. Adapting can also be a good thing and we have taken this time to revise how we bring you information and if there is more we can be doing by way of offering networking opportunities, knowledge transfer and general updates. Hopefully you have already seen the new Podcasts and Webinars that have been made available online and we are continuing to develop ways to bring you more digital content and offer you access to information in a way that you would rather receive it. Check out the website for more information: www.aluminiumtoday.com nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com

ALUMINIUM, which was to take place in Düsseldorf from 6 to 8 October, has been postponed to 18 to 20 May 2021 due to the serious consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The accompanying ALUMINIUM Conference will also be postponed tonext year. The decision was made after numerous discussions with the industry and partners, who were all in favour of postponing the fair. The aluminium industry as well as international supply chains have been hit hard by the pandemic and the lockdown. “Together with exhibitors and partners, we had long hoped to be able to get the industry back on track for October. Unfortunately this hope has not been fulfilled. The vast majority of exhibitors have therefore expressed the wish that ALUMINIUM should be rescheduled to next year,” says Michael Freter, Managing Director of organiser Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus crisis, demand for alumini-

um has fallen, in some cases massively. Importantly, demand from the main application industries such as automotive and aviation in new orders and call-offs fell sharply and in some cases have come to a complete standstill, according to the German association Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie e.V. (GDA). “The decision to move ALUMINIUM to May next year is, in our view, absolutely the right one. The markets for aluminium have collapsed on a broad front. I do not yet see any recovery at present,” said Marius Baader, Managing Director of Gesamtverband der

Aluminiumindustrie e.V. (GDA), the supporting association of ALUMINIUM. This is also underlined by Dr. Gerd Goetz, Director General of the European Aluminium industry association: “Our main focus is currently on sustainable economic measures to overcome the crisis by the EU and its member states. The aluminium industry can play a key role in the realisation of a green European action plan. Therefore ALUMINIUM is important for us especially next year, when the situation in the application industries will hopefully have eased again,” said Gerd Goetz.

Rusal begins testing of Inert Anode Pot RUSAL has commenced testing operations for a pilot industrial electrolytic cell with inert anodes, which has an improved design and a record low carbon footprint. The new pilot model will replace the inert anode electrolytic cell already being tested by RUSAL as the next step in the development of innovative carbon-free aluminium cell technology. The new generation of inert anode electrolytic cell has a number of

fundamentally new technical solutions that can improve the purity of aluminium produced, reduce the carbon footprint to a record low level of 2 tons of CO2 per tonne of aluminium produced and reduce operating costs during the production process. The pilot experimental pot cell will have a capacity of approximately 1 tonne of aluminium

per day at 140 thousand ampere current rate. RUSAL is one of the world’s leading aluminium producers in developing cell technology using inert anodes. “This technology will increase efficiency and significantly improve the carbon footprint of aluminium production”, said Victor Mann, RUSAL’s Technical Director.

San Ciprián Smelter update Alcoa Corporation has announced that it plans to begin a formal process for the collective dismissal of employees at its San Ciprián aluminium facility in Spain. On May 28, 2020, Alcoa launched an informal process with the workers’ representatives to discuss significant and unsustainable circumstances at the aluminium plant. The Company now intends to begin the formal 30-

day consultation period with the Works Council to achieve the best possible outcome for the Company and its workforce. The Company envisions a restructuring for the aluminium plant that retains a portion of the casthouse in operation. A collective dismissal could potentially affect up to 534 employees of the aluminium plant. No final decisions will be made until the

mandatory, formal consultation process is complete. The aluminium smelter has incurred significant and recurring financial losses, which are expected to continue. The San Ciprián site has both an aluminium plant and alumina refinery. The San Ciprián alumina refinery is not affected by this formal consultation process.

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INDUSTRY NEWS 3

GARMCO: Green products Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill [GARMCO] has embarked on a transformative role in shaping the climate agenda through the GARMCO Green Initiative that sets the stage in steering the company’s vision for a sustainable future in a tangible direction. The GARMCO Green Initiative is the culmination of years of best practice in eco-friendly processes, and provides the template for the company’s new strategic direction of being a champion of environmental causes.

The Initiative received a further boost on 18 June, 2020 when the company obtained the prestigious ISO 14021:2016 certification for successfully promoting best practices in environmental management across the organisation. The assessment for GARMCO’s certification was conducted by TUV Nord. The certification further endorses the company’s continuing efforts in minimising the adverse impact of climate change through the environmentally and eco-friendly processes already in

place, and through its wide ranging portfolio of recyclable products. The Company’s Chairman, Mr. Basim AlSaie said: “We have always been passionate for protection of the environment. Obtaining the ISO 14021:2016 certification was thus a natural evolution in this direction. We place high priority on the need to have environmentally friendly products and processes as part of our commitment towards a sustainable growth while conserving the environment.”

ASI certifies two Eurofoil plants Eurofoil has been successfully certified against the ASI Performance Standard and Chain of Custody Standard for its two rolling operations in France and Luxembourg. The rolling mills supply foil to customers in various sectors, including packaging, automotive, and building. Fiona Solomon, Chief Executive Officer at ASI said, “We warmly congratulate Eurofoil on their dual ASI Certifications. Packaging sector companies continue to achieve ASI Certification in order to be able to offer aluminium foil products that are produced responsibly and support the growing sustainability focus from downstream use sectors. Aluminium foil-based packaging

often ends up in the hands of the end consumer, including in its simplest form as household foil, and ASI Certifications can help extend broader awareness of aluminium’s sustainability credentials.” Yann Sauvage, Quality System Manager at Eurofoil said, “Euro-

foil companies intend to become a world-class manufacturer of aluminium foil and we are committed to applying the highest stand-

ards applicable to our business activities. As a manufacturer of high-quality aluminium foil, we are pleased to participate in ASI as an active member, because we thoroughly believe ourselves about the overall benefits of ASI’s program. We’re proud that ASI Performance Standard and Chain of Custody certifications have been granted to us and we will continue to follow the relevant ASI guidelines to improve our global management system. All environmental, social and governance values are a part of our business strategy in order to offer to our customers aluminium products that are sourced and produced responsibly along the entire value chain.”

Aldel’s solar power agreement Netherlands-based aluminium producer, Aldel, is to partner with solar park operator Ecorus in a new initiative which is seeking to accelerate the development of solar power in the region. Aldel has agreed to make its electricity transmission infrastructure available to allow Ecorus, and other solar operators to connect to the Netherlands’ public electricity distribution grid. As a first step, work will commence on connecting up a solar park developed by Ecorus on an industrial site owned by local construction firm Gebroeders Borg in neighbouring Farmsum. By partnering with Aldel, it will be able to feed the entire peak output of 4.5MW Aluminium International Today

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from the Borg site into the public electricity grid over Aldel’s existing network connection. The move is a significant step forward in in the implementation of Aldel’s broader green agenda. As a heavy energy user, Aldel is already playing an important role as a “virtual battery” in helping keep the grid in balance, by switching off consumption in periods of high demand. This has helped the public electricity grid to adapt to meet the demands of a more distributed model of energy generation and supply. This is particularly important now that wind and solar, whose output fluctuates with the weather, are providing a growing pro-

portion of the country’s energy needs. Aldel is also aiming to assist other renewable producers who are looking to feed electricity into the public grid using its infrastructure. There is currently a significant backlog in connecting up new providers to the grid as a result of the rapid growth in the Netherlands of new, largely smallscale, renewable capacity. Connecting via an existing large user with the necessary infrastructure, provides a quicker and cheaper route for renewable energy providers to bring their output to the market. Discussions are ongoing with to the public grid via Aldel.

ALL CHANGE ALVANCE appointments ALVANCE Aluminium Group, GFG Alliance’s global aluminium division, has announced the appointment of Guillaume de Goÿs as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO) to drive the Group’s expansion and synergies across its upstream and downstream activities. Aluminium Dunkerque’s Director of Operations, Amélie Hennion, will take on the plant’s Managing Director role and direct the site’s cornerstone activities in ALVANCE’s value chain. Leadership change at Aluminerie Alouette Mr. Darren Colwell, Chairman of the Owners Committee of Aluminerie Alouette, has announced that Mr. Michel Huot is appointed Acting President and Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Mr. Patrice L’Huillier, who led the company since 2018. Nicole Coutu announced as President of Alcoa Canada Alcoa Corporation has announced the appointment of Ms. Nicole Coutu as President of Alcoa Canada. In her new role, Ms. Coutu will be the principal liaison for government and institutional relations for the company, on behalf of the Deschambault, Bécancour and BaieComeau smelters, as well as the Canadian head office in Montreal. Egil Hogna to leave Hydro Egil Hogna, Executive Vice President for the Extruded Solutions business area in Hydro, has decided to leave Hydro to take over as CEO for Norconsult, a Norwegian consultancy firm. Hogna will continue as executive vice president until a new leader is in place, until December 1, 2020.

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4 INDUSTRY NEWS

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Domestic alu foil deliveries rise Total shipments of aluminium foil in the first quarter of 2020 increased slightly compared with the same period in 2019, reaching 242,100 tonnes (2019: 240,700t.) European deliveries rose by 3.4% but this was largely

offset by a steep drop in exports, down 13.3%, according to the latest figures from the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA). While restocking after the long Christmas break accounts for some of this increase, the strong demand for domestic uses, pre-

packed foods and takeaway services caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns across Europe are believed to have been positive factors. The drop in exports is partly accounted for by disrupted supply chains due to earlier lockdowns in these markets. Having experienced soft demand throughout the previous year, thinner gauges, mainly used for flexible packaging and household foils, saw production for domestic use rise 3.2% in the first period of 2020. But there was a pronounced decline in deliveries outside Europe, down 20.9%. Thicker gauges used mainly for semi-rigid containers, technical or other applications, continued to show resilience in all markets, with Europe adding 3.7% and exports returning to growth with a 7.4% rise. Overall deliveries of thinner gauge products declined 1.5% in Q1, while thicker gauges increased by 4.2%.

Guido Aufdemkamp, EAFA Executive Director commented, “The markets for aluminium foil products have seen the COVID-19 pandemic become a major influence on demand patterns in the later part of this quarter. With so many people under lockdown and having to cook at home, or purchase only takeaway foods, the use of foil has increased. Likewise consumers now prefer pre-packaged foods, and this has helped all packaging materials, not just foil, to improve sales.” “But, of course, the downside is that global exports are almost at a standstill and we see disruption to supply chains in overseas markets remaining for some time. We anticipate European demand will stay very strong through Q2 and probably into Q3. But it is difficult to predict anything at present, so we will continue to watch events closely and act accordingly,” he added.

Constellium supplies Body Sheet for new Toyota Corolla in Europe Constellium has announced that it will supply Auto Body Sheet for the new Toyota Corolla produced at Toyota’s European manufacturing plants. Constellium was nominated as the sole supplier of Auto Body Sheet for the hood of the new Corolla, produced at the automaker’s facilities in Burnaston, UK, and Arifiye, Turkey. Toyota is using aluminium for this series on its European production lines for the first time.

“We are very proud of this successful collaboration with Toyota and are honored to be supplying one of the world’s best-selling ve-

hicles,” said Dieter Höll, Vice President of Global Automotive Rolled Products at Constellium. “Toyota and Constellium have partnered for many years to develop innovative aluminium solutions for Toyota’s new models, tailored to their manufacturing process.” Constellium provides Surfalex HS®, a high-tech alloy with exceptional surface quality, roping performance and corrosion resistance, for the outer part of the hood.

Garner Aluminium Extrusions awards FAC to SMS Group Europe Garner Aluminium Extrusions, also known as Garnalex, based in Denby, UK, has awarded SMS group the final acceptance certificate for the extrusion line it supplied. Together with OMAV SpA, consortium leader SMS group installed an integrated line with the HybrEx 35 July/August 2020

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as the core machine. OMAV SpA supplied a billet heating system with billet furnace and billet saw, a run out system including an in-

tensive profile cooling station, a profile stretcher, and a finishing saw. The addition of an ageing furnace rounds off the production chain. The company, founded in 2018, plans to use the new press to manufacture aluminium profiles for a fully integrated door and window system.

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16 - 18 38th Conference and Exhibition ICSOBA 2020 Promoting the exchange of ideas and know-how from different fields of research related to bauxite exploration and mining, and alumina and aluminium production. VIRTUAL www.icsoba.org/2020/

December 8-9 Future Aluminium Forum* Now in its third year, the Forum has established itself as the key event to show case studies, discuss optimisation through machine learning and examine robotics, automation and augmented reality across the value chain. Held in Québec City, Canada *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

03/07/2020 11:52:38


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6 IAI

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Optimism lies ahead post-COVID By Miles Prosser* and Chris Bayliss** At the start of 2020, there was a feeling that the global economy was finally shaking off the effects of the financial downturn of a decade ago. But then COVID-19 struck and since then, no industry has been spared the effects of the pandemic including the aluminium industry. In late 2019, the International Aluminium Institute commissioned a report, to look into the global demand for aluminium up to 2050. The authors, CM Group, identified the outlook in February as ‘strongly positive’ with a demand of 335 million tonnes per year by 2050. But since COVID, the landscape has changed and so has the forecast for the industry. And for this reason, the report had to be updated to reflect the impact of the pandemic on the aluminium value chain. Subsequently, An Initial Assessment of the Impact of the Covid–19 Pandemic on Global Aluminium Demand report has been published. While there is the inevitable conclusion that the demand for aluminium will fall this year, there remains significant optimism to mid-century. The long-term drivers of aluminium growth remain after COVID and, if anything, the opportunities are greater. COVID-19 can, and should be, a pivotal moment for aluminium industry. That the industry (like all industries) needed to adapt to changing expectations from society on ESG performance, was already well understood, but 2020 has sharpened those expectations. Growing demand is predicated on delivery of metal to markets that meets and exceeds those expectations – responsibly sourced, lower carbon, lower environmental impact. At the same time, the report indicates there is a growing appetite for environmentally friendly solutions in transport, infrastructure, energy and

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL ALUMINIUM INSTITUTE

Miles Prosser

The International Aluminium Institute IAI was established in 1972. Current IAI membership represents over 60% of global bauxite, alumina and aluminium production. To find out more about the IAI and the work they do, visit www.world-aluminium.org.

food security, which aluminium is poised to deliver. This was a trend before the pandemic but is being accelerated by the crisis. Aluminium is the most recycled and recyclable of all materials. Aluminium can be reused over and over again. Both aluminium and its alloys can be melted down and reused without any detriment to its mechanical properties. About 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. With such a strong sustainability credential, the metal is ready to meet consumer expectations. The CM Group Report, using forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in conjunction with its own evidence, identifies opportunities for the industry to deliver tangible benefits, including: � The elimination of outdated capacity � The elimination of capacity unlikely to meet tightened environmental standards � Acceleration of projects that position the industry for a carbon-constrained future � New market opportunities where competitor materials have been impacted by COVID-19 There is also a strong positive sentiment within the industry, based on the findings and survey responses analysed by CM Group. Significantly, 83% believe the pandemic will have just a short-term impact on aluminium consumption; with most

Chris Bayliss

expecting China’s economy to rebound in 2021, which aligns with the report’s own data. More than half (56%) do not think the pandemic will cause fundamental changes to supply and consumption and that lowcost and well-performing organisations can benefit and increase their market share at the expense of outdated, highcost rivals. Crucially, when questioned whether the situation would be positive or negative to long-term demand growth, more than a third (37%) believe there are opportunities to grow aluminium consumption, particularly in terms of furniture and UHV cables in construction. The aluminium industry – like all industrial sectors – is still facing a testing future in the short term, but there should be cause for optimism. To take advantage the industry needs to analyse its operations and strategies and seek new market opportunities. To achieve this will require all hands on deck – consumers, industry leaders, policy makers, governments and all stakeholders playing a part to deliver positive change. It will take appropriate policies, fiscal stimulus packages as well as a continued transformation in consumer purchasing habits and lifestyle to deliver change and drive demand post-COVID-19. The opportunities are there. And In the midst of this COVID pandemic lies hope and good prospects for the aluminium industry. �

*General Secretary of the International Aluminium Institute. **Deputy General Secretary of the International Aluminium Institute July/August 2020

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8 MARKET UPDATE

Views of Novokuznetsk

Russia may face steep decline of aluminium consumption this year By Eugene Gerden* The consumption of aluminium in Russia may decline by at least 30% this year, compared with 2019. This will be mainly due to COVID-19 and the associated economic recession in the country, according to recent statements, made by local aluminium producers and industry analysts. A significant drop of consumption will be primarily due to the major reduction of demand from some major aluminiumconsuming industries in Russia, representatives of some of which have recently announced their plans to reduce their production volumes by 50–80% this year, compared to 2019. At the same time, in the case of Russia, and its major local producer Rusal, much will depend on the further situation in global markets, as about 75% of aluminium, which is produced in Russia, is exported. The current economic crisis both in Russia and on a global scale and associated with slow recovery in demand, according to some analysts, may force Russian producers to consider significant cuts of their production capacities, with the biggest expected to be observed by Rusal. According to estimates of analysts of the Russian Expert business paper, under various circumstances (such as the beginning of a second wave of the pandemic) the possible reduction of Rusal’s production capacities may reach 40%. These cuts may affect some major aluminium-producing plants of

the company, among which are the Kandalaksha Aluminium Plant, the Bratsk Aluminium Plant and the Novokuznetsk Plant. However, the possible shutdown of enterprises, the majority of which are located in Russian Siberia, being large employers and taxpayers for regional and local budgets, may be associated with additional negative consequences for these regions, which may destabilise the situation, taking into account the status of local aluminium enterprises as cityforming. The re-launch of these productions after their suspension could also be associated with huge costs for the company, that could be similar to those, which incurred by Rusal during the resumption of production of liquid aluminium at the Bratsk Aluminium Plant in 2018 (production was suspended in 2013), which required investments of up to RUB 8 billion (US$150 million). In the meantime, the reduction of aluminum production in Russia may be associated with other negative consequences for the aluminium industry and lead to a significant growth of imports of aluminium products to the local market. It is planned, a significant part of these supplies will account for imports from China, which aluminium producers continue to enjoy large volumes of support from their government. In the meantime, the growth of imports from China may result in a significant decrease of share of Russian aluminium

producers in the domestic market and lead to the loss of contracts with some major consuming high-tech industries in the local market, among which are automotive components, medical equipment, aircraft engineering industry and some others. Green Aluminium Advantage Some local analysts, however, believe that Rusal’s products can still be competitive in the global market, which is mainly due to their ecological profile, as they are based on clean hydropower and have one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints in the industry, not exceeding 4 tons of CO2 per ton of aluminium. In comparison, almost 90% of aluminum in China today is produced on the basis of coal generation and has a high carbon footprint (up to 18 tons of CO2 per ton of aluminum). The compliance with global ecological trends in recent years has become very important for global aluminium customers throughout the world. In general, the aluminium producers from Russia have already managed to occupy a significant niche in the global aluminium market, particularly those of products with high degree of technological conversion and, according to their plans, is a further increasing their presence in this segment. For example, Russia at present ranks second after China in the structure of extrusion aluminum profile imports to the EU.

*Russian Correspondent July/August 2020

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MARKET UPDATE 9

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Competitive Nature However, due to the ever-growing competition with China and the current crisis, there is a possibility that the level of competition in the domestic market will continue to be tightened in years to come. Amid the ever growing competition at foreign markets and shrinking global demand for aluminium, a particularly attention of Russian producers may be paid for the increase of supplies to the domestic market, where the demand for aluminium and products, made on its basis, has just started to recover. The biggest hopes of producers are put on the transport and engineering industries. In the case of Rusal, at present Russia and the CIS region account for only 24% its total sales in value terms. The average per capita consumption of aluminium in Russia is estimated at 5.5kg per year, compared to the global average of 7.5kg per year and 16kg in the case of the US and Japan and up to 26% in the countries with well-developed metal-intensive engineering, such as Germany or South Korea. According to Rusal’s estimates, the existing potential for import substitution

Kandalaksha Aluminium Plant, one of Russia’s largest aluminium plants, operated by Rusal

of aluminium-containing products in Russia is estimated at 750,000 tonnes per year. At the same time, the main export potential is observed for rolled products and foil (plates, sheets, tape), which are used for the production of packaging and engineering products, as well as rod extrusion - those industries, which have been characterised by the high level of development since the Soviet times.

In regard to imports, so far, most aluminium products imported to Russia, accounted for consumer goods: Aluminuim heating radiators, dishes, profiles for furniture, semi-finished products for construction and decoration, however, there is a possibility that the range of imports may be significantly expanded already in the second half of the current year. �

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LPC - Enhanced billet quality for hard alloy, forging and indirect extrusion applications By Shaun Hamer* As the aluminium industry progresses into new markets, driven by lightweighting, corrosion resistance, recyclability and other factors, there is a corresponding need for improved and enhanced production techniques while still optimising the cost of production. Automotive projections alone predict an increase in aluminium extrusion usage of 22% and increase of 3% of forgings in passenger vehicles if a targeted 7% overall vehicle mass is achieved.1 These increases will not only require an increase in production capacity, there will also be a demand for alloy development and enhanced quality. The growth of aluminium intensive vehicles including the Ford F-150 and models from Audi and the Jaguar Land Rover Group amongst others have been achieved with equal or improved levels of crash test safety compared to earlier, steel intensive predecessors. Similarly, the body in white quality has maintained the necessary levels of quality both with the pick-up and luxury model markets. Extruders, die casting, forging companies and rolling mills have all invested heavily to meet the demands both of automotive and other quality sensitive markets. Enhancements to production techniques and alloys developed to comply with the requirements of the OEM’s have been substantial; this investment most clearly seen from the flat rolled products producers2. Upstream from the near net shape process, the casthouse is equally important in the production route. Alloy conformity, metallurgical uniformity, metal cleanliness and dimensional accuracy are just a few of the many factors affecting the final product quality and ability to meet end user standards. For production of billets for extrusion and forging operations, the use of air cushion technology like the Hycast GC systems are

Fig 1. Flow characteristics within an extrusion container. Image courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan

Fig 2. Coring in an extrusion profile as a result of a thick inverse segregation zone being drawn into the profile. Image courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan

ubiquitous around the globe. The ability to produce a uniform macrostructure and narrow shell zone contributes to optimising downstream processing and yield. In the direct extrusion process the billet inverse segregation zone (ISZ) is amongst the most critical factors that influence internal and surface extrusion quality and productivity. Modeling of metal flow characteristics in the container clearly identifies the flow characteristics of the non-uniform metal in the ISZ and how a thicker shell zone can lead to surface imperfections in the extrusion, coring and potential die wear. Metallurgical analysis of extruded product and analysis of metal flow in the extrusion butt further correlate with the modelling and show how the ISZ can impact the extrusion process3. Although less common as a production process, indirect extrusion is even more sensitive to surface imperfections and a narrow ISZ is critical for achieving the benefits this process route offers. A corresponding advantage of the thinner ISZ is the ability for extruders to safely press more of the billet and leave less butt in the press resulting in an increased metal yield and improved productivity from the press. In a similar vein, there is a significant cost to forging companies if a deep ISZ affects the forging quality and necessitates the billet to be scalped or peeled prior to the forging operation. Turning a billet to remove the shell zone is a lengthy process, producing turnings or peelings that are not optimal for remelting and create housekeeping and storage issues, especially when turnings are long and form an unmanageable spaghetti. Furthermore, producers invariably take an excessively deep turn down when removing the shell zone, basing their reduction on a predetermined final diameter which they know to be ‘safe’ rather than limiting the machining operation to only removing

*North American Sales and Service Representative for Hycast A.S. www.hycast.no Aluminium International Today

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Fig 3. LPC casting line in operation

Fig 4. Start up metal level for LPC casting

the shell zone thickness. For forging applications such as car and truck wheels, the use of billet from air assisted DC tooling is common, where the shell zone is small enough to negate the need for scalping. Larger diameter forgings which are typical with aerospace, nuclear and other critical applications demand the billet to be turned both to remove the ISZ and to provide a surface finish suitable for ASTM B594-13 Class A and higher ultrasonic inspection prior to processing. Hydro and Hycast identified the need for a casting technology capable of meeting the production demands cited above. DC mold technology slowly developed over the years from the float and spout systems to conventional hot top systems to air cushion technology which is most commonly used today. Refinements have been made over the years to the air cushion process, but it was not until the early 2000’s that the Hydro and Hycast teams began working July/August 2020

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Fig 5. Steady state LPC operation

on a new concept that would overcome the limitations of these technologies4. Air cushion technologies first patented by Showa Denko in 1977 and commercially available through Hycast and others utilise an air bearing within the mold to minimise the segregation zone compared to prior technologies. This process has been the industry standard until now, especially for the production of 6000 series alloys. However, a combination of air pressure balancing within the mold and exudation of enriched residual melt on the billet surface cannot be eliminated, which result in a characteristic surface undulation and a measurable ISZ. The direction the Hydro and Hycast technical team followed was to eliminate the metallostatic head pressure in the mold to eliminate the exudation and to provide a uniform pressure within the mold cavity to the ambient air to prevent gas cushion pulsation. This led to the

development of the Low Pressure Casting (LPC) technology. Using the industry proven GC (Gas Cushion) technology, the research focused on devising a system that could operate without the traditional metallostatic head. Hycast engineers were already familiar with using vacuum as a means for effective metal control in their SIR degassing systems. The SIR unit uses negative air pressure to raise the metal level in a dual chamber vessel while spinning rotors disperse argon to remove hydrogen and inclusions from the liquid metal. Combining these two competencies, the basic principles for LPC were developed and patents were filed in 2003 and 2007 covering the principles of the LPC process5. Research and Development for the LPC system was carried out at the Hycast offices in Sunndalsora, Norway and prototype casting systems were first installed and trialed in 2006 on the R&D casting line Aluminium International Today

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Fig 6. Microstructural comparison of 6000 series billet: Gas cushion above and LPC below

located within the smelter facility. The goal of the R&D project was two fold; firstly to prove the theory of the LPC system and secondly to develop a solution that could be readily commercialised. The principle of LPC casting is to eliminate the metallostatic pressure in the mold. This is achieved by sealing the area above the molds and then generating a vacuum using an ejector to generate a negative pressure in the chamber. Development and commercialisation of the LPC technology has led to a customised mold to be developed based on the robust and reliable GC mold configuration. In addition to a vent which equalises the air pressure in the mold cavity and the exit side of the mold, there have also been enhancements to the mold’s refractory components to address the specific challenges of the LPC process. Continuous R&D and commercialisation of the technology has allowed the Hycast technologists to optimise the LPC process and the unique challenges presented by this next generation of casting process. From the original R&D alpha unit, the process has been based on a fully automated, hands-free operation. The control system is responsible for modifying the metal level in the infeed launder from an initial start up level to a steady state level which corresponds to the desired operating level in the mold and to maintain this to within a ±1 mm tolerance. To achieve this, the automation system operates a combination of casting table actuators, radar based molten metal level sensors and control dams through a robust and accurate closed loop control philosophy. The zero metallostatic pressure is also a critical function of the LPC process. The automation system monitors and accurately controls the under pressure on the table, and the lids and sealing system have been enhanced through ongoing experience to provide a reliable and easy to maintain operation. Extensive metallurgical analysis has July/August 2020

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Fig 7. DC cast 7075 extrusion billet cast on LPC

been undertaken at the R&D center in Sunndalsora and also at customer installations and fully supports the principles of the LPC concept. Initial analysis was conducted on 8” (203mm) 6000 series billet and microstructural analysis clearly showed the significant minimisation of the ISZ. The exudation of the enriched residual melt was almost eliminated and the characteristic surface generated by the pulsation of the air in a gas cushion mold was replaced by a much smoother surface condition. SEM analysis further identified that the macrostructure at the billet surface was much more homogeneous with the chemical analysis in the reminder of the log, with much less migration of higher melting point elements in the narrow ISZ. A further consequence discovered of this more uniform and narrow ISZ is the ability to homogenize at higher temperatures. This characteristic has a positive impact on homogenizing uniformity and cycle times, offering greater throughput of metal in the heat treatment area. Now proven on a commercial basis, the LPC technology is shown to be advantageous for casting hard alloys with a significantly reduced migration of elements despite the longer freezing zone. This minimises or eliminates the need for scalping and produces a much more uniform alloy distribution across the billet section. Internal stresses in hard alloy and the need for slow secondary cooling is still a characteristic of hard alloys and the LPC system can be provided with wipers for larger diameter products. Many casting operations supplying critical product to their customers also rely on the conventional billet market. Considering this demand, Hycast have developed a hybrid configuration which can be used with both GC gas cushion technology and LPC systems. This hybrid system allows total flexibility for billet producers to optimise production and supply best quality product with maximum yield, efficiency and value for money.

Fig 8. Surface microstructure of AA7075 cast on LPC

Today LPC technology has been proven commercially in the European, North American and Asian markets for 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 series alloys, ranging from 5” (127 mm) thru 20.5” (520 mm). Continued commitment to R&D development is expected to widen this range further in the coming years. LPC technology has been developed and commercialised to address the ever more critical requirements end users are placing on extruders and forging companies to develop enhanced products, alloys and quality levels for critical applications. Ultra-thin inverse segregation zones, improved alloy homogeneity and a smoother billet surface offer production and process savings in heat treatment cycle times, reduced scalping requirements and downstream efficiency and yield improvements. LPC has proven itself as the next generation billet casting technology with installations and references on three continents. � References: 1 Aluminum Content Growth in North American Light Vehicles 2016 to 2028. Ducker Worldwide Report prepared for Drive Aluminum. July 2017 2 Novelis Launches High-Strength Automotive Aluminum Product for NextGeneration Body Sheet Design. Noveli. com press release August 1, 2019 3 Billet Quality for Performing Extrusion – Jerome Fourmann Rio Tinto Aluminum Product Group. Casting Confidence Week, 13 – 17 September 2015. 4 A New DC Casting Technology for Extrusion Billets with Improved Surface Quality - Arild Håkonsen et.al. TMS Light Metals 2014. 5 Patent: Method and equipment for continuous or semicontinuous casting of metal. Geir Olav Anesbug et.al. 30 June 2003 and Arrangement related to equipment for continuous or semicontinuous casting of metal. John Olav Fagerlie et.al. 3 December 2007. Aluminium International Today

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Global collaboration for advancing digitalisation & technical innovation

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) is a network of representatives from mining companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), original technology manufacturers (OTMs), research organisations, academia, regulatory agencies, consultancies, and industry associations who collaborate to tackle the challenges facing our industry. In response to an increased demand for the incorporation of innovative technologies in the mining industry such as automation and artificial intelligence, and the new challenges around cybersecurity and interoperability that they raise, several GMG working groups are collaborating on projects in these areas to help the industry move forward. These working groups, led by industry experts, are especially important for mining today as they guide the industry towards adopting and incorporating new and innovative technologies and mitigating risks, managing change while doing so. They are unique in that they provide a space in which diverse industry stakeholders, including mine operators, original equipment manufacturers, technology suppliers, regulators, and consultants can come together to work towards a common goal, despite often being traditional competitors. Despite travel restrictions, online platforms and communication tools have broken the barriers of time and distance, meaning participation is still possible from around the world. Not only do these working groups help mining companies to have increased efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability, but they also foster a feeling of community and cooperation between all sectors of the industry. July/August 2020

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Autonomous mining The mining industry is increasingly embracing automation as a safety and productivity enabler, and as a key component to creating a sustainable future for mining. Automation, therefore, is an important part of digital transformation in mining. While this is innovating the industry, it also introduces new challenges the industry must come together to take action on, including: potential impact on the workforce and community, new design and planning requirements, and regulatory changes. The Autonomous Mining Working Group is focused on assisting the industry and

helping operations achieve the benefits autonomous systems can offer. The working group has recently launched a project to develop the second version of a guideline on implementing autonomous systems. Although the latest guideline was published in 2019, autonomous mining is moving fast. Based on rapid advancements and leveraging the broadening adoption of autonomous systems in mining, this new version will expand on the topics of the first, which were change management, developing a business case, health and safety and risk management, regulatory engagement, community and social impact, and

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operational readiness and deployment. Initial collaboration has also identified some key topics for new content in the guideline. One area for additional guidance is underground mining operations, as they present unique challenges. For example: ventilation, equipment size, location technologies, and dewatering. A second area is around information technology (IT) infrastructure, which would include general guidance on IT infrastructure support and staffing requirements, data management and cybersecurity. Zero-entry mining, operations where no humans enter the mining zone, is an emerging topic that has also generated a lot of discussion. Potential considerations include equipment diagnosis, a roadmap for getting there, and safety implications and benefits. The impact of autonomous systems on the workforce also remains a high priority. While additional guidance on education will likely be added to the implementation guideline, a separate project was launched to develop several case studies on skills migration and upskilling from organisations that have implemented autonomous systems. Safety also remains a high priority for the industry. A separate project was launched to develop a white paper on system safety, referring to the engineered system for risk management that demonstrates optimised safety by providing a qualitative analysis of the overall safety of the system. This is important to the adoption of autonomous systems in that technology is used to manage critical safety functions. While they have strong integrated safety measures, additional tools and systems are required for optimal safety and for the prevention of incidents around equipment. Furthermore, a guideline on applying functional safety to autonomous systems in mining is slated for publication in the upcoming months. Factors Influencing Implementation Approach reproduced from the first edition of the GMG Guideline for the Implementation of Autonomous Systems in Mining (2019)

maturity. Industry collaboration can identify the guidance and best practices that will enable mining to achieve the benefits of AI. The GMG Artificial Intelligence Working Group is currently developing an implementation of AI guideline. Its aim is to leverage lessons learned and case study examples from experience applying AI in mining to help overcome the challenges and barriers to entry and to improve adoption of AI, and as a result, boost efficiency in the mining value chain. AI requires a strong foundation both in business processes and in technical capability. This guideline will approach the topic from both of these perspectives. The business foundation will include guidance on the components of a strong business case, while also acknowledging that an experimental approach may also be valuable. It will also cover considerations around when to build, buy, or partner on a solution. It will also offer guidance on building a multi-dimensional team, change management, and human factors. The technical foundation aims to provide an understanding of the multifaceted technical challenges involved in realising value in AI-based projects. This guidance will serve as a common framework for technical teams to use as guidance when building, validating, and deploying models. Ethics and education are also key topics that underlie both the business and technical aspects of AI implementation. Ethical considerations range from the unconscious or conscious bias that can be present in data collection around geographies, culture, age, gender, and race. Issues such as displacement of personnel, the ethical use of data such as information from wearables,

and storage and disposal of personal data. Education considerations include identifying and managing skill gaps and training approaches such as mentorship and shadowing programs and training sessions for personnel at all levels of the organisation. While the implementation guideline will cover data management broadly, a separate GMG project on open data sets for AI in mining is also underway. Industry participants are currently developing a guideline for the collection, cleaning, labelling, and curating of open data sets to help the industry test and train their models for a variety of AI applications. The data sets that are available internally are usually limited when it comes to AI, as metadata are required to effectively run an algorithm. By bringing the industry together, this opens up the opportunity to build the optimal data platform for the benefit of the entire industry. AI in Mining Maturity Model reproduced from the GMG White Paper Foundations of AI: A Framework for AI in Mining (2019) Cybersecurity As the industry acquires more sophisticated and efficient digital technologies, it also opens up the potential for cyber threats and attacks including data breaches, system/equipment shutdown, and forms of infiltration through third-party access and cyber espionage. This means it is essential for any mining organisation making use of digital technologies to also adopt prudent security measures and implement an integrated cybersecurity management framework to prevent disruptions and threats. These kinds of attacks are usually targeted towards corporations and mid to large size

Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is also changing how mines operate. It is important for the industry to work together because, while AI has the potential to optimise processes and improve safety, the transition for mines to being AI-enabled, if inadequately implemented, may result in accidental system failures and potential hazards. These issues can lead to loss of revenue and may cause mining operations to be resistant to making the transition. Like autonomous systems, AI solutions are developing rapidly, and the industry represents varied stages of Aluminium International Today

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organisations, and may result in revenue loss, damaged reputation, and the misuse of classified information. Therefore, it is critical for mining companies to build reliable, secure, and resilient operations and to drive convergence between operational technology/information technology (OT/IT) against threats, thus driving accountability across the entire value chain. This topic has become of increased importance as so many individuals are now working from home and do not have the same access to cyber protection as they did in their workplace. With the increased use of online collaboration tools and communication platforms, it becomes more difficult to ensure security. As individuals return to work, it is essential for cybersecurity to be taken into consideration. The laptops returning to the workplace are not necessarily safe, making preventative measures and active care more important than ever.

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The cybersecurity working group is currently focusing on a guideline on vendor security management, which aims to provide vendors and operators with best practices and proper guidance for remaining resilient to cybersecurity threats. As vendors provide more sophisticated digital technologies to the mining industry, this also allows for new potential cyber threats and attacks. Implementing strong cybersecurity is essential for the vendors, and for the whole industry. General guidance on cybersecurity such as a list of key requirements, information sharing requirements, remote support guidelines and general policy recommendations will be a priority for the guideline. It also aims to offer more technical guidance including security monitoring approaches to a variety of vendor types and sizes, when data should be kept locally or when it should be shared with vendors or other third parties, and how to securely transfer data. Other

priorities for the guideline include a series of use cases, guidance on validation, and certification. Ways to get involved While these are some of the ongoing GMG projects, there are other working groups that have been a priority this year, some of which will have workshops in the upcoming months. The topics of focus include: the workforce of the future, climate action, asset management, data access and usage, industrial communication efficiency, underground mining, and the electric mine. All voices are welcomed and appreciated in the collaboration of these working groups, from within the mining industry as well as outside perspectives. To stay up to date on current GMG workshops, and for ongoing information about how to get involved, follow us on social media for updates, and subscribe to the newsletter. �

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Covid-19 fails to stop bauxite mining Michael Schwartz* reviews recent developments in the raw material behind aluminium Worldwide headlines continue to stress the importance of tackling Covid-19 and mining is no exception. As an example, in a news release on April 3 Alcoa announced that it, “continues to take strong measures to protect its workforce and its locations from the threat caused by Covid-19, which is challenging the world’s economies and contributing to significant uncertainty in global markets. Presently, all of Alcoa’s bauxite mines, alumina refineries, aluminium smelters, cast-houses and its rolling mill remain operational and with appropriate protocols in place to protect our workforce, suppliers, customers and communities. Those actions include alternating shift patterns, social distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting, remote work where practical and regular communication to our workforce regarding personal hygiene, including frequent hand-washing.” Alcoa is also supporting requests from charities to help with pandemic-related health and social service operations. Its donations to date total US$4 million, featuring $1 million for coronavirus relief in the communities where it operates and almost $3 million committed to humanitarian causes, which include Covid-19. The bauxite sector is playing its part in preventing the spread of the virus and finding a cure for it. State-of-the-art technology, too, is helping companies carry out their operations. One example directly assisting bauxite mining is the communication system jointly designed by Motorola and Rio Tinto. From a Queensland-based operations centre owned by Rio Tinto Aluminium, every aspect of production, quality and safety can be monitored at isolated bauxite mines in Northern Territory and Queensland. As a consequence, domestic and overseas plants can be supplied uninterrupted. Even if the operations centre can be accessed, Rio Tinto can still track production movements via its TETRA (TErrestrial Trunked RAdio) digital two-way radio communications system, linked into its disaster recovery centre. Impressively, it took just five days for Motorola to develop its new system.

Covid-19 concentrates minds… As if the health implications of Covid-19 are not severe and tragic enough, the virus has sparked off other reactions. A bauxite project in Ghana - a country famous for its gold rather than its bauxite - has been singled out for financial support to be withdrawn. The Chinese and Ghanaian governments signed a memorandum to explore bauxite deposits in Ghana. These latter lie in two deposits, Awaso in western Ghana which hosts rich deposits within a rich forested area and the less-rich Atewa deposits located in Eastern Ghana’s Upland

as a stick to beat the supporters of the project. To make matters worse, the forest comprises roughly 17,400 ha of upland evergreen forest (rare in Ghana), and it is managed by several organisations, eg, the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the Okyeman Environment Foundation (the latter as a matter of policy curtailing local farming and championing eco-tourism). Further pressure comes from hunting for bushmeat, logging and the presence of gold deposits in addition to the bauxite. The arguments of the lobbying organisations can be summarised as

Evergreen forests. Under the agreement Ghana would hand over 5% of the bauxite to China, which in turn would install $2 billion of infrastructure - rail, roads and bridges. Ghana’s Parliament has already passed the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminum Industry Act to provide the legal framework for operations. Reaction has been fierce: more than 260 organisations globally have lobbied the Chinese Ministry of Commerce for the mining of bauxite to continue only if communities and stakeholders are happy that project design and implementation satisfy their criteria. This has led to an argument as to whether Atewa Forest should receive financial support from China during Covid-19. It is as if Covid-19 is acting as some catalyst to inspire those lobbying for their various aims - or even

follows: � the need for international cooperation and transparency; � the need for relevant information, eg, pre-feasibility assessments and environmental impact assessments; � public feedback and participation; � compliance with international - and Chinese national - standards; � non-impact on bio-diversity in turn including allowing rivers to flow freely and animals to migrate unhindered; and � human aspects per, among others, the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. At the time of writing, several NGOs in Ghana have expressed their own belief that Atewa Forest bauxite mining should

*Correspondent July/August 2020

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not qualify for support from Chinese sources during Covid-19 - least of all if the criteria for mining do not satisfy local organisations. Bauxite 360 - Norsk Hydro One company with interests in two bauxite mines in Brazil is Norsk Hydro, which describes itself as a fully integrated aluminium company (with 35,000 employees in 40 countries). Crucially, because it extracts bauxite, refines alumina and generates energy as well as producing primary aluminum, rolled and extruded products and recycling, Norsk Hydro claims to be the only 360° company in the global aluminium industry. Hydro became this integrated aluminium company in 2011, when it acquired the aluminium assets owned by Vale in Brazil. While the company prefers not to disclose the size or life of its bauxite reserves, Einar Stabell, Norsk Hydro’s

communications manager, global media, answered Aluminium International Today’s questions. Stabell explained the beneficiation and transportation processes for the bauxite: “The removed bauxite from Mineração Paragominas passes through the beneficiation stage, which consists of crushing, grinding and classification. The processed ore is mixed with water, forming a pulp that is exclusively pumped through a pipeline to the Alunorte refinery, in the city of Barcarena, where the bauxite is refined, transforming it into alumina, the raw material for aluminium. “The pipeline is 244 km long and passes through seven cities in the Pará State: Paragominas, Ipixuna do Pará, Tomé-Açu, Acará, Moju, Abaetetuba and Barcarena. In addition, the transport system crosses the Capim, Acará, Acará Mirim and Moju rivers. Hydro’s alumina refinery Alunorte also receives bauxite from Mineração Rio Aluminium International Today

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do Norte which is transported by ships to refinery.” Norsk Hydro also has its land rehabilitation strategy. Stabell again: “All areas that are available after the mining go through a rehabilitation process.” In particular, he mentioned the mine in Paragominas, “…an important part of Norsk Hydro's strategy as a global supplier of innovative and sustainable aluminium solutions. The use of the environmental best practices is part of the commitments of Mineração Paragominas, which invests in the rehabilitation of mined areas to return to society and environment similar or better to the one existing before the beginning of its activities. “In the recovery of these areas, the original landscape is reproduced and then the topsoil is added. Then, the land is prepared to receive the seedlings, which grow, creating vegetation similar to the native forest of that area. The seedlings come from seeds and other seedlings collected in the forest area of Mineração

Paragominas and its surroundings. On average, between 150,000 and 200,000 seedlings of native species are produced per year, but production may increase with the advance of reforestation in the region.” Norsk Hydro’s reforestation programme commenced in 2009: up until December 2018, 2,100 ha had been recovered. Last year, Norsk Hydro rehabilitated almost 136 ha in already mined areas at Mineração Paragominas. Of those, just over 82 ha were rehabilitated with the planting of 91,401 seedlings. The remaining 54 ha were renewed by the nucleation technique, which uses materials from the removal of vegetation, eg, branches and roots and topsoil. This technique accelerates the rehabilitation process naturally inducing the formation of a new soil. (In an example of biodiversity research, The Brazil-Norway Biodiversity Research Consortium (Biodiversity Research Consortium, in English) brings together

researchers from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), the Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA), the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, the University of Oslo (UiO), and Norsk Hydro professionals in Brazil and Norway). And Norsk Hydro’s future in Brazil? Norsk Hydro maintains its investment programme for continuous improvements and new technologies in the different sectors of its operations. In 2014, for example, the Alunorte Refinery made an investment of US$186,978,022 for the construction of a new bauxite waste deposit area, which uses what it describes as the most modern and sustainable technology in the world for bauxite waste management, the press filter. Alunorte has been designated a pioneer in its large-scale application: The press filters generate a waste with 78% solid content, which allows for stacking by compaction,

increasing the safety of the solid waste deposit and significantly reducing the area required for disposal. Continuing the plan of improvements, Alunorte also expanded its water and effluent treatment capacity, from 10,000 m3/hr to 14,500 m3/hr with its new Industrial Effluent Treatment Station, which only just entered into operation this January. Construction of the two new containment basins increased water storage such that the two have a capacity of 274,000 m3, or 110 Olympic swimming pools. Total investment to modernise the refinery's effluent management system was just over US$126,000,000. All these measures were taken to make the unit even more prepared for climate changes in the future. In addition, and this is highly timely in the light of major tailings disasters, the company has been adopting measures to go beyond what is required by Brazilian July/August 2020

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law and to adopt the best national and international practices for the construction and management of dams. Mineração Paragominas made improvements in order that the safety of the dams met the international recommendations of the sector. In addition, the mine has operational procedures that further reduce the volume of water in the environment destined for tailings and with improved instrumentation and system monitoring programs. Built on an old bauxite mining area, the Plateau Tailings Disposal System started operations at the end of 2017 and has a storage capacity of approximately 11,000,000 m3. The system is subdivided into four tailings reservoirs and eight water reservoirs (clarification basins), aiming at making better use of this resource for reuse in the production process. The four reservoirs are used alternately to dispose of the tailings, allowing the deposited layers to dry and compact. This methodology increases the safety and stability of the structures. Jamaica faces its challenges One market that recognises both its rivals and its internal challenges is Jamaica, which contains some of the largest deposits of bauxite anywhere (the bauxite is refined into alumina but can also be exported unrefined). Subsequent marketing is carried out by the major international companies that mine the bauxite. The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) has recently reviewed its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, and in rather general terms, the Institute believes, “the future looks relatively secure for the industry.” It points out increased capacity at the island’s alumina plants through recent investment as well as a purer than average product, low transportation costs and proximity to North American smelters. The problem, as the Institution points out, is competing with other bauxite producers. Australia and Guinea emerged long ago as more significant players, Brazil overtook Jamaica in the early 1980s and China and India did so in the 2000s. In addition, despite the nearby North American markets, smelters have still been built in Asia and Europe, while output per Jamaican worker is lower and wages higher than for other countries. In the Institute’s own words: “Jamaica needs to find a way to reduce the cost of mining bauxite to remain competitive. This is especially so as transport costs have dropped. This has caused mining costs to become a more important factor than location near a smelter.” July/August 2020

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Stevie Barnett, one of JBI’s directors, replied to some questions posed by Aluminium International Today. He first looked at the purity of Jamaican bauxite, explaining that, “generally, Jamaican bauxites from any particular area have a consistent chemical and mineralogical composition. While the dominant chemical component is alumina (Al2O3), it is the mineralogical components which play the significant role in the processibility of the bauxite. “The predominant mineral is gibbsite (Al2O3.3H2O), which is invariably associated with boehmite (Al2O3. H2O). The latter is often present in insignificant amounts, but in some areas the monohydrate form may exceed 5% by weight of the total bauxite. The proportion of trihydrate to monohydrate is of considerable importance since the processing characteristics of monohydrate bauxite is markedly different from that of trihydrate bauxite.

“The gibbsite content of Jamaican bauxite ranges from 34-46%, whereas boehmite can range from 1-12%. For this reason, Jamaican bauxite may be classified as “mixed” trihydrate/monohydrate or gibbsite/boehmite bauxite. Some amount of blending can be tolerated in the processing, and this is encouraged in order to maximise use of the resource.” JBI is keen to stress its commitment to restoring land used for bauxite mining. Special Mining Licences (SMLs) are issued to bauxite mining companies by the Commissioner of Mines. A condition of the licence is that all lands disturbed for mining must be restored to some productive use. On completion of mining, the orebody must be certified as mined-out, and a certificate to commence reclamation is issued. Once the restoration process is completed, the mines are inspected and if the restoration is deemed satisfactory, a restoration certificate is issued by the Commissioner of Mines. Furthermore, Section 53 of the Mining

Regulations (amended 2004) requires that all ore bodies are rehabilitated within three years of being certified mined-out. Failure to meet this requirement means that a penalty of US$ 25,000/ha of land is charged to the company, with a further US$2,500/ha for each year that it remains uncertified. The mining company therefore has an obligation to present each minedout orebody for inspection within that three-year time-frame. Stevie Barnett also set out the JBI’s objectives regarding reclamation and the use of mined-out lands. They include: � reducing the backlog of unreclaimed lands; � effectively increasing the area of mined-out lands under commercial agriculture; � making more lands accessible to more small farmers; � making mined out lands available for housing and other non-agricultural uses; and � minimising the aesthetically unpleasant appearance of unreclaimed lands. With respect to post-mining land use, Barnett continues, “lands are generally returned to pasture. A significant acreage has also gone back into farming of cash crops, orchard crops, and forest trees. In areas where farmland is desired by residents, the land will be put into crops and then handed over to farmers with the mining companies continuing to provide some level of support. “If the mining area is near to a town where land is required for expansion, then the mining company will work with local authorities to decide on the best end use. These may include lands for resettlement of residents dislocated by mining or new residential developments, school playgrounds, community centres, landfills, water harvesting areas, orchards or forest.” Regarding transportation of the bauxite, each bauxite company has its own private infrastructure. Generally, bauxite is transported by road trucks on companyowned haul roads from the mines to a load-out. From the load-out stockpile, bauxite is moved by rail and/or belt conveyor to the processing plant and by rail and/or belt conveyor to the port. Conclusions The bauxite industry has not been deterred by Covid-19. Rather, it has continued to find methods of improving productivity, rehabilitation - and aiming to prevent disasters of the type recently and tragically encountered. � Aluminium International Today

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Creating and application of lean 4.0 methodology in bauxite and alumina Israel Oliveira Rocha*, Gustavo Lopes da Silva**, Renan William Costa da Cruz***, Sandra Gonçalves Figueiredo****, Leandro Barbosa Lima*****

Fig 1. Bauxite extraction operation at MPSA

Hydro is a global company, with more than 35,000 employees, spread over operations in 40 countries, working together to create increasingly better aluminium solutions for more than 30,000 customers worldwide. Our businesses are divided into bauxite, alumina, energy, primary metal, laminated products and extruded solutions. Bauxite and alumina represent the first two links in the aluminum value chain and the work to create and apply Lean 4.0 methodology (digital Lean) applied to the management system was developed at Mineração Paragominas S.A (MPSA), one of the largest mining bauxite in the world, located in the city of Paragominas, in the State of Pará, Brazil. (Fig 1) Lean manufacturing or Lean Methodology, according to OHNO (2019), is a systematic method originating in the Japanese manufacturing industry in 1950, being created to minimise waste within a productive system without sacrificing its efficiency. Lean also takes into account the waste created by eight different natures, which: (1) defects, (2) excess production, (3) waiting, (4) intellectual waste, (5) transportation, (6) variation of inventory, (7) handling and (8) excess processing.

The Lean method considers work from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, where “value” is any action or process for which a customer would be willing to pay, this concept is very important for the work in question, and can be observed at each stage, and clearly evidenced in the results presented. Multinational companies have achieved great performance by incorporating Lean Manufacturing at the center of their corporate transformations. According to JORNAL DO COMÉRCIO (2019) companies such as CAT, Jhon Deere, Mary Kay, Avon, have achieved extraordinary gains in several performance indicators, from reducing absenteeism to optimizing the production process itself, using the methodology. Seeking to reach the level of a Lean company, the work sought in Lean Digital the methodology to achieve, in a structured, continuous and stable way, improvement in the main indicators of MPSA. According to LITTLE (2017), Lean companies continuously develop their capabilities and processes as part of their culture. Continuous improvement allows

companies to align their activities flexibly, according to the business strategy. As a result of this alignment, these companies achieve relatively high-performance levels compared to their competitors. By using this digital Lean methodology, it is expected to obtain more aggressive and longer-lasting returns than the traditional approach, as shown in Fig 2. The system used for quality management at MPSA is the Bauxite & Alumina Business System (BABS). It is used as part of the company’s strategy towards its ambition to be sustainable and more profitable, implementing Lean management concepts and tools, sharing best practices and based on the “Hydro Way”, which is based on the Toyota Way, previously mentioned. The structure of the BABS, and the Lean tools associated with each principle is illustrated schematically in Fig 3. The BABS Principles use several traditional quality tools such as Gemba Walk, 5S, standard operating procedures and their verification of effectiveness. All of these tools are supported by assessments using electronic forms with easy access (mobile).

*Quality Specialist –Paragominas Mining S.A, **Manager BABS – Paragominas Mining S.A., ***Quality Analyst - Paragominas Mining S.A, ****Quality Analyst – Paragominas Mining S.A., *****Quality Specialist - Paragominas Mining S.A July/August 2020

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a Standardised work process

Defined relationship between customer and supplier

Critical processes defined Evaluation of procedures PRO WOC

Fig 2 Performance growth rates throughout the life cycle of the implementation of the Lean methodology (Source: LITTLE, 2017)

Defined agreements between customer and supplier Management of routine management meetings - DMS

Optimised flow SS management Strategic A3 management Autonomous maintenance data management

Dedicated teams

Visible leadership

Management of dedicated teams

GEMBA - WOC

Improvement management

Self assessment of BABS

Problems solving

Governance of meetings

Fig 3. Schematic representation of the BABS structure, associated with Lean tools (Source: Own, 2019).

Fig 4. BABS chart used to demonstrate evolution (Source: Own, 2019)

According to SOARES et all (2018), as a managerial standardisation the Gemba Walk was called WOC (walking, observing and communicating). The operational procedures were called PRO and their verification of compliance in the field was PRO WOC. Still according to SOARES et all, compared to other industries, the mining and metals sector is considered as one of the lowest levels in the use of digital tools. In fact, according to the survey promoted by the EY webcast “Preparing for tomorrow’s digital mine today”, 2017, only 31% of respondents have digital technologies present in the organisation’s day-to-day activities. The objective of this study is to show the use of the Lean 4.0 (or digital Lean) methodology in the implementation of a governance of the information of the Management System in a totally digitalised way, in order to manage and generate sustainable improvements in the areas of security, people, cost and process optimisation. The main objective is to maintain the predictability of existing systems in a world-class performance. (Fig 4)

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Methodology One of the tools adopted to implement this solution was A3 thinking. According to SOBEK II, notably flexible and brief, the A3 report has proven to be a key tool In Toyota’s successful move toward organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and improvement, especially within its engineering and R&D organisations. The power of the A3 report, however, derives not from the report itself, but rather from the development of the culture and mindset required for the implementation of the A3 system. In other words, A3 reports are not just an end product but are evidence of a powerful set of dynamics that is referred to as A3 Thinking. (Fig 5) The BABS tools that have been incorporated into the digital report, based on Lean Manufacturing, are as follows: 1. Standardization of processes 2. Supplier customer agreement 3. DMS – Daily Management System 4. 5S 5. A3 Report 6. Autonomous maintenance 7. Dedicated teams 8. Improvement management 9. Problem Solving 10. GEMBA - WOC and its variation

- PRO WOC To develop this work, it was necessary to go beyond what had been developed by SOARES et all, in the article entitled “Digital transformation applied to the bauxite and alumina business system BABS 4.0”. Then the following tools were used to create a model to support the use of digital Lean tools that make up the BABS. � SQL: According to the PORTAL DA EDUCAÇÃO (2019), the acronym SQL stands for “Structured Query Language”, that is, Structured Query Language. � Big Data: According to ORACLE (2019), Big data are data with greater variety that arrive in increasing volumes and with increasing speed. � Gateway: According to MICROSOFT (2019), the on-premises data gateway acts as a bridge to provide fast and secure data transfer between on-premises data (data that is not in the cloud) and various cloud services. � Power Automate: Microsoft Power Automate is a versatile automation platform that integrates with hundreds of applications and services. � Power BI: According to SOARES et July/August 2020

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ANSWER

Danieli Answers to be a step ahead

19

Danieli breda Extrusion benchmark technology

Energy-saving, higly-efficient solutions for integrated extrusion plants

Danieli patented solutions cover the upstream, extrusion and downstream technology areas, for lower energy consumption and lower OpEx, whilst allowing production flexibility through proprietary automation control systems featuring HMI remote-control via tablets. ESED 4.0 is the Danieli-patented energy-saving solution for extrusion presses, achieving average energy savings of 25-30% compared to traditional systems. The new, “nimble crab� fully electric billet loading, handling/transferring the billets directly from the heater to the press, reduces the billet heat/energy loss significantly and improves billet temperature accuracy by 5-7%.

Twenty Danieli answers to be a step ahead 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08.

Sustainability CO2 reduction 4.0 intelligent plant MIDA ECR QSP DUE Digimelter Energiron DRI Long-life BF

The patented Ecoflame gas billet-heater minimizes heat loss from the exhaust fumes and reduces gas consumption per extruded ton up to 30-35%, depending on the product mix. Accurate taper heating of the billet is achieved through new-design burners. Multivariable transducer controls correct the stoichiometric gas and air mixtures, reducing maintenance and manual adjustments.

09. Quality slab casters 10. Pickling and cold mills 11. Galvanizing / Air knives 12. Billet casters 13. Billet welders 14. Wirerod mills 15. Rail and section mills 16. The Drawer sizing block 17. Reheating systems 18. Seamless tubes 19. Extrusion lines 20. Aluminium mills

In the downstream area, a patented electrical stretcher allows a more accurate repeatable stretching stroke while reducing maintenance operations.

danieli.com

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26/06/20 11:07


ANSWER

Danieli Answers to be a step ahead

19

Danieli breda Extrusion benchmark technology

Energy-saving, higly-efficient solutions for integrated extrusion plants

Danieli patented solutions cover the upstream, extrusion and downstream technology areas, for lower energy consumption and lower OpEx, whilst allowing production flexibility through proprietary automation control systems featuring HMI remote-control via tablets. ESED 4.0 is the Danieli-patented energy-saving solution for extrusion presses, achieving average energy savings of 25-30% compared to traditional systems. The new, “nimble crab� fully electric billet loading, handling/transferring the billets directly from the heater to the press, reduces the billet heat/energy loss significantly and improves billet temperature accuracy by 5-7%.

Twenty Danieli answers to be a step ahead 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08.

Sustainability CO2 reduction 4.0 intelligent plant MIDA ECR QSP DUE Digimelter Energiron DRI Long-life BF

The patented Ecoflame gas billet-heater minimizes heat loss from the exhaust fumes and reduces gas consumption per extruded ton up to 30-35%, depending on the product mix. Accurate taper heating of the billet is achieved through new-design burners. Multivariable transducer controls correct the stoichiometric gas and air mixtures, reducing maintenance and manual adjustments.

09. Quality slab casters 10. Pickling and cold mills 11. Galvanizing / Air knives 12. Billet casters 13. Billet welders 14. Wirerod mills 15. Rail and section mills 16. The Drawer sizing block 17. Reheating systems 18. Seamless tubes 19. Extrusion lines 20. Aluminium mills

In the downstream area, a patented electrical stretcher allows a more accurate repeatable stretching stroke while reducing maintenance operations.

danieli.com

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Fig 5. A3 Thinking (Fonte: Operational Excellence Consulting, 2020)

Fig 6. Problem solving A3, applied to BABS information governance

Fig 7. Initial condition of the information flows of the BABS tools (Source: Own, 2019) Fig 8. Current condition of information flows from BABS tools, after improvement (Source: Own, 2019)

all (2018), it is a business analysis solution that allows the connection to data from different sources, its treatment and data arrangement in highly visual reports. By combining the use of these digital tools with the BABS Lean tools, the Big Data of BABS information was created, and, in essence, this is the BABS digital Lean. The work was developed according to the phases of an A3, where (1) we initially identified the context of the problem to be solved, (2) reporting the initial conditions, in order to (3) define objectives and goals to be achieved, (4) the entire context of the problem and solution was measured, (5) an action plan was defined with attainable goals and a deadline for delivering the work so that (6) defining the metrics for monitoring effectiveness, shown in Fig 6 follow. Results Using the A3 Thinking methodology, an evaluation of the initial condition was made, represented in Fig 7. In this initial condition, we perceived several natures of information flows (highlighted in the figure, in different colors), where we feed data from different July/August 2020

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panels, totaling 9. The information was, besides being decentralized, nonstandardised, which generated some discomfort for the user, since the way to obtain relevant information from the reports was different in each one. The data was recorded in Sharepoint lists, which in addition to serving as a visualisation interface, can also be used as a database, with limitations. Adding the information from the 5S, WOC, PRO WOC and record of monthly improvements, there were already more than 50,000 lines of information from the BABS tools, stored in 20 months of implementation of the digital Lean tools. Which left the loading of information for data models slow and unproductive. There was no duplicity or digital trace of this information, which weakened the reliability of the recorded data. By inserting SQL as an option for data recording, via MS Power Automate, it was possible to greatly reduce the number of duplicate databases, as well as optimize the flow that the users’ information carried out, shown in Fig 8. The new flow converges to a single Power BI panel. The flow of the most robust information from the BABS tools was directed to a database in SQL.

Information from WOC, 5S, monthly improvements and PRO WOC are now recorded in data tables in SQL, which guarantees security, traceability and speed when using this information. Other smaller information flows, such as auxiliary tables for the integrated panel, annual assessments (such as annual selfassessment, and strategic A3), continued as a Sharepoint list. Fig 9 shows data recording using MS Power Automate, a tool that did not require specific training, with zero cost, as it is an integral part of the O365 application package. Using Power Automate, it was possible to integrate all the most robust databases with SQL, and it was also possible to create automated flows to validate other information with smaller daily flows, obtaining an efficient gain in obtaining and recording this data. As a final result of the joint use of so many 4.0 tools with Lean, we have an integrated dashboard, containing all relevant information for the leadership routine and support staff. As in Fig 10. In addition to the unification of 9 information panels, spread across different work areas, by different BABS users, there was a problem with the delay in updating Aluminium International Today

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Fig 9. Automation flow of recording data in SQL, using MS Power Automate

Fig 10. Real-time interface containing information from all BABS tools (Source: Own, 2019)

Fig 11. Reduced time for loading and updating information from BABS tools (Source: Own, 2019)

the data on these panels, which was around 30 minutes, and the update on the internet interface, which required 45 minutes of time to update. The following Fig 11 illustrates the difference in times after optimising the model with the inclusion of SQL as a database for the most critical information. Considering that of the 9 panels, 4 had their daily updates, we have the following equation: (4x30min) + (4x45min)=300min≈5daily working hours weekly = 5x5 = 25 hours

problems, two or more variables are related, and it is interesting to model and explore this relationship. In general, suppose there is a single dependent variable or response y that depends on x variables, independent or repressive: The relationship between these variables is characterized by a mathematical model called a regression model”. In general, the response variable y may be related to x regressive variables. The following model illustrates a mathematical model. y = B0 + B1x1 + B2x2 + Bkxk + e

And considering that the others had their weekly updates, we have: (5x30min) + (5x45min)=375min≈6,25 daily working hours 25 hours + 6,25 hours = 31,25 weekly working house

This is the representation of the multiple linear regression model with x regressive variables. The parameters Bi, j = 0,1, …, k are called regression coefficients. If the output flows are highly correlated - say, almost perfectly correlated -, the number of control charts to be used can be reduced, focusing on the most related and adequate to the performance indicators. The most common situation is that flows are only moderately correlated, so monitoring only one of the indicators is not appropriate. Fig 12 illustrates this theory in a graphic, simple and appropriate way for a lean approach. It is observed that the WOC and 5S tools are strongly correlated, both have a strong correlation (above 0.5) with bauxite production and cash cost (cost per

Totaling a “saving” of 31.25 hours a week of specialised labour, with only updated information for consumption by MPSA’s client areas. Right after that, we can highlight one of the main gains for the business unit, with the use of digital Lean tools, which are the proven impacts of using the tools in the main performance indicators of MPSA. The method used to prove the influence of the use of the tools was multiple regression, which according to MONTGOMERY (2009), “In many Aluminium International Today

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unit). Regarding monthly improvements, there is a strong inverse correlation, with the following indicators: frequency of accidents and consumables. However, there is still a moderate correlation (below -0.3) with the following indicators: inventory variation and variable cost. Conclusion Developing digital Lean models to support a long-term sustainable competitive advantage is essential to sustain increasingly competitive businesses. Being able to digitise the flow of value effectively and efficiently is undoubtedly a source of competitive advantage for today. As in Lean Management, the “traditional Lean”, developing the necessary capacity and establishing the right mindset throughout the organisation remains a top management problem. The more employees and leaders who adopt this new digital Lean mentality, the efforts to digitise will succeed, offering important changes in business performance. As it was possible to observe in the results of the work, all the information flows from the digital tools were directed, forming a Big Data of BABS, where it was gained with accurate, assertive information, and those who no longer burdened the labor resources. management system. The positive influence of the use of BABS digital tools on critical performance indicators was also verified. July/August 2020

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Fig 12. (1) Correlation between WOC and 5S with production and cash; (2) Correlation between quantity of improvements with IRT, variation of inventory, consumables and variable cost. (Source: own, 2019)

1.Bibliography DURWARD K., Sobek II. Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System. CRC Press, 2009. EY. Preparing for tomorrow’s digital mine today. Available: https://www.ey.com/gl/en/ issues/webcast_2017-02-13-2100_preparingfor-tomorrows-digital-mine-today. FOIDL, H., FELDERER, M. Research challenges of industry 4.0 for quality management. 4th International Conference, ERP Future 2015,

Munich, Germany, November 16-17, 2016. JORNAL DO COMÉRCIO. Empresas têm ganhos expressivos com o sistema lean. Disponível em: https://www. jornaldocomercio.com/_conteudo/cadernos/ jc_logistica/2019/04/677580-empresas-temganhos-expressivos-com-o-sistema-lean.html. Management System Manual – Paragominas Mining LITTLE, Arthur D. Digital Lean Management. 2017. Available: https://www.adlittle.com/

DigitalLean. LNS Research. Quality 4.0 impact and strategy handbook – Getting digitally connected to transform quality management. 2017. MICROSOFT. Training and Help of Office 365. Available: https://support.office.com/ptbr/. MONTGOMERY, Douglas, C. Introduction to Statistical Quality Control, Sixth Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2009. OHNO, Taiichi. EVOLUTION OF TOYOTA PRODUCTION SYSTEM. Kindle Edition. 2019 ORACLE. A Definição de Big Data. 2019. Available: https://www.oracle.com/br/bigdata/guide/what-is-big-data.html. PORTAL DA EDUCAÇÃO. O que é SQL. 2019. Available: https://www.portaleducacao.com. br/conteudo/artigos/informatica/o-que-esql/46276. SOARES, Juliana et all. Digital Transformation Applied to Bauxite and Alumina Business System – BABS 4.0. ICSOBA, 2018. WOMACK, Jim. Caminhadas pelo Gemba Gemba Walks. Lean Institute Brasil, 2011. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM. Future Scenarios and Implications for the Industry. 2018. Available: https://www.weforum.org/ reports/future-scenarios-and-implications-forthe-industry.

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Do you know what truly happens in your CAB furnace? Fig 1. Thru-process temperature profiling system travelling through a conveyorized heat treatment furnace measuring product and or air temperatures providing a ‘temperature profile’ a thermal finger print for that product

Applying ‘thru-process’ optical profiling to fully understand, what is happening inside your Al brazing furnace…a products eye view! By Dr Steve Offley* In the global Industrial heat-treating market tens of thousands of aluminium brazed products are sent through conveyorized CAB furnaces each and every day. The thermal processing of these products is often critical to the quality or performance of the finished product. Learning what is truly happening to the product inside the black box, that is your furnace, is important and shapes the success of your operation and customer satisfaction. As discussed in a previous editorial1 to fully understand the operational characteristics of the aluminium CAB heattreat process an essential technique is that of thru-process temperature profiling where the environment and brazed product temperature is continuously measured as the product travels through the process. Such technique provides what is referred to as a ‘temperature profile’ which is basically a thermal finger print for that product in that particular process. This thermal finger print will be unique and allow understanding, control, optimization and validation of the heat treat process.

Root Cause Analysis – Process Profiling Help The temperature profile of any thermal process is invaluable to get a better understanding how the furnace is working and is a critical tool in fault finding when things go wrong, because they do and they will! Root cause analysis is a standard tool used in industry to identify the root cause of product or process problems without jumping to conclusions or making knee jerk reactions. In root cause analysis it is important to distinguish between symptoms and problems and drive to find, in the mist of many potential causes, the true root cause. Taking an example of the Aluminum CAB brazing process, the temperature profile trace may show that the cause of a quality issue is due to the product braze temperature in a particular zone of the furnace being too low. This, although identifying a cause does not necessarily explain the root cause. A low product temperature in a particular furnace zone may be due to many possible different root causes – faulty control thermocouple, burner, recirculating fan or even damage

to furnace structure / insulation. The low product temperature may in some circumstances not be detected by onboard furnace controls and will require a deeper dive investigation. Identifying the root cause will require inspection at the source of the problem. This action is referred to commonly as “Going to Gemba” a Japanese word which means ‘the real place’. In this situation going to Gemba means investigating what is actually happening in the furnace in a particular zone, at the point of occurrence. Root Cause Analysis – Controlled Aluminum Brazing (CAB) Example – Automotive Radiator Line Symptom High number of radiator rejects identified in QA Problem Poor product quality due to weak braze joints Cause From temperature profiles product braze temperature identified to be too low in Zone 4 Root Cause Recirculating fan fault in Zone 4 resulting

*Product Marketing Manager PhoenixTM Ltd Aluminium International Today

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Fig 2. PhoenixTM Optical profiling ‘Optic’ System - High Temperature Thermal barrier used in the CAB brazing furnace protecting the video camera and dual torches

in poor non uniform heat transfer to radiators Going to Gemba is not always the easiest of tasks especially when considering identifying the root cause of furnace problems. Any task involving the internal inspection of a furnace generally requires that the furnace is switched off, allowed to cool and then dismantled to allow access by operatives. Taking our aluminium brazing (CAB) example, internal inspection of the furnace is not a quick and easy task. Operating at 600 °C the cool down period is significant to allow engineers safe access for inspection and corrective action and then further delay to get the furnace back up to a stable operating temperature.

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Such maintenance action may mean one or two days lost production, from that line, which is obviously detrimental to productivity, meeting production schedules, satisfying key customers and your bottom line. In addition to process temperature problems there are many other production issues that can be faced relating to the furnace operation and safe reliable transfer of the product through the furnace or oven itself. In the CAB process a day to day hazard of the process is the build up of flux debris. Flux materials used to remove oxides from the metal surface and allow successful brazing can accumulate within the internal void of the furnace. These materials are most problematic at the back end of the muffle section of the furnace where due to the drop in temperature, entering the cooling zone, materials condense out. Flux build up can create many different process issues including; � Physical damage to the conveyor belt or support structure requiring expensive

3.2

replacement � Reduction in belt lubricity creating jerky movement and causing unwanted product vibration � Lifting of the belt mesh creating an uneven transfer of products causing possible excessive product movement, clumping or clashing. � Reduction in inner furnace clearance creating possible product impingement issues and blockages To prevent such problems, regular scheduled inspection and clean out of the furnace is necessary. This is not a pleasant, quick operation, and requires chipping away flux debris with pneumatic tools. Often requiring a furnace down time of 1 to 2 days, this task is only performed when essential. Leaving the clean-up operation too long though can be catastrophic causing dramatic deterioration in product quality or risk of mid production run stoppages. Until now there has been no easy way to see how your product travels through the furnace under normal operation

3.3

Fig 3. PhoenixTM Optical Profiling System – Your Products Eye View in the operational Al CAB furnace. 3.1 Video profile screen shot – view down entire length of a single Furnace Zone 3.2 Video profile screen shot – exit of muffle furnace showing heavy flux build up. 3.3 Video profile screen shot – vacuum brazing furnace showing faulty IR heating element

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conditions or means by which the need for furnace repair or clean down can be confirmed. A new technology called Optical Profiling changes all this and for the first time gives you the means to see what your product sees in production; a true products eye view! Optical Profiling – What is it? Optical profiling is a new complementary technique to that of ‘thru-process’ temperature profiling. The new technology allows for the first-time process engineers to view the inner workings of the furnace under normal production conditions. Travelling through the furnace, with the products being processed, the Optic system gives a product’s eye view of the entire heat treatment journey. Employing similar thermal protection technology ‘thermal barrier’ used in temperature profiling, in place of the temperature data logger a compact video camera and torch are used to record a video of what a product would see travelling through the furnace. The principle is just like your car’s dash cam, the only difference being that your journey is being performed in a furnace at up to 600°C. The resulting video “Optical Furnace Profile” shows process engineers so much about how their process is operating without any need to stop, cool and dismantle the furnace. This allows safe routine furnace inspection without any of the problems of costly lost production and days of furnace down time. Benefits of applying the Optical Profiling principle in conveyorized furnace processes:

Furnace Condition Check the condition of the internal walls of the furnace to ensure they are fit for purpose � Damaged or Distorted panels / Sealing gaps / Corrosion � Build-up of dirt/flux/condensate or general processing debris – Contamination risk – identify need for critical cleaning action � Correct alignment adjustment of ducting to allow correct air flow / convective heat transfer � Identify ignition events or other safety related issues within the furnace Product Transfer Check that the product travels safely and smoothly through the process without conflict or obstruction � Conveyor belts run flat and product orientation is kept constant – No belt damage or distortion � No product vibration or excessive movement which may cause damage to product or affect processing step eg: brazing � Check that product is able to pass through without clashing with furnace furniture or product clumping

Condition & Operation of Key Furnace Features Check that key furnace features are working correctly and not damaged � Fans, Ducting, Control thermocouples, Gas Feed pipes, Zone separation curtains/brushes

Thermal Process Observation Check that the process is being performed correctly where heat treatment action is physically visible � Bazing – Melt and Flow of filler metal

Summary ‘Thru-process’ optical profiling is a new revolutionary technique for visually inspecting the condition of and also transfer of product through a continuous furnace. Combining such information with a product temperature profile, process engineers can work with maintenance teams to not only Understand, Control, Optimize and Validate the heat treat process but also Maintain the furnace to protect productivity and quality. Employing the optical profile information preventative maintenance or furnace clean down can be scheduled with confidence, and when problems occur, rapid fault finding is possible. Furnace inspection as part of the production flow at temperature eliminates, days of furnace downtime, lost production and an interrupted product supply chain. � References: 1. Aluminium International Today Magazine Set/Oct 2019 : Brazing Basics - ‘Thru-process’ Temperature Profiling a means to achieve process understanding, control, optimisation and validation. Dr Steve Offley PhoenixTM Ltd. Contact: www.phoenixtm.com

OPTICAL PROFILING “GOING TO GEMBA” NEW TECHNOLOGY BENEFITS � Instant - View the inner workings of your furnace without need to dismantle the furnace or stop production. � New Understandings – See actual heat treat process if visual changes to product possibly for first time. � Production Conditions - See the operation of the furnace under actual production conditions fully loaded. � Time Saving - No delay to Cool, Disassemble, Reassemble as with normal inspection procedures. � Complementary - Run video profile simultaneously with temperature profile to combine Thermal and Visual information. The complete picture of your Heat Treat Process.

Furnaces Phoenix version 2.indd 3

02/07/2020 15:32:20


BOOK TODAY FOR

SPEAKERS

8-9 DECEMBER 2020 Centre des Congrés de Québec, Québec City, Canada Vincent Christ, Chief Executive Officer, ELYSIS

Antti Koulumies, VP Aluminium Business Line, Outotec

Éloïse Harvey, President, Mecfor Inc.

Hans Erik Vatne, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, Norsk Hydro ASA

FROM PILOT TO EVERYDAY If you want to know what’s happening in the world of digitalisation then look no further than the only aluminium conference in the world dedicated to Industry 4.0 and how it – and its related technologies – can aid and optimise the aluminium manufacturing process.

EXHIBITORS INCLUDE www.advanceddynamics.com

• THE INTELLIGENT CASTHOUSE

The Future Aluminium Forum will return on 8-9 Decemer 2020! Now in its third year, the Forum has established itself as the key event to show case studies, discuss optimisation through machine learning and examine robotics, automation and augmented reality across the value chain. The Keynote Speaker has been announced as the CEO of ELYSIS, Vincent Christ. He will discuss the opportunities that ELYSIS brings for the aluminium industry and for Québec, in view of the upcoming start-up of ELYSIS Research and Development Centre in Jonquière, Québec.

Implementation & challenges Industry 4.0 maintenance Additive manufacturing

www.FutureAluminiumForum.com FutureAluminium_DPS_A4.indd All Pages

Cyber Security Resilience Workshop This 90-minute workshop will provide participants with an understanding of the unstructured and diverse nature of cyber threats/attacks in the aluminium sector, their potential impact in terms of costs and reputational damage to the industry, and the need for new approaches to manage the digital risks.

Sponsored by:

Official Media Partner:

Organised by: INIUM IND UM US AL

30 YEARS

R MORE TH Y FO TR

VISIT THE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Supported by:

NEW FOR 2020

TI OMO NG THE PR

The intelligent casthouse Data capturing and handling Cyber-security: Prevention and cure

• APPLYING INDUSTRY 4.0

Particular emphasis will be put on the sector’s requirements for effective preparation, identification, prevention, 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.

Join us to hear from other experts on:

• THE AI REVOLUTION

AN

TOPICS INCLUDE • SMELTER OF THE FUTURE

TO FIND OUT MORE AND BE PART OF THE FUTURE, CONTACT: Nadine Bloxsome | Conference Director nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com +44 1737 855115 Nathan Jupp | Sales Manager nathanjupp@quartzltd.com +44 1737 855027

24/03/2020 09:58


BOOK TODAY FOR

SPEAKERS

8-9 DECEMBER 2020 Centre des Congrés de Québec, Québec City, Canada Vincent Christ, Chief Executive Officer, ELYSIS

Antti Koulumies, VP Aluminium Business Line, Outotec

Éloïse Harvey, President, Mecfor Inc.

Hans Erik Vatne, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, Norsk Hydro ASA

FROM PILOT TO EVERYDAY If you want to know what’s happening in the world of digitalisation then look no further than the only aluminium conference in the world dedicated to Industry 4.0 and how it – and its related technologies – can aid and optimise the aluminium manufacturing process.

EXHIBITORS INCLUDE www.advanceddynamics.com

• THE INTELLIGENT CASTHOUSE

The Future Aluminium Forum will return on 8-9 Decemer 2020! Now in its third year, the Forum has established itself as the key event to show case studies, discuss optimisation through machine learning and examine robotics, automation and augmented reality across the value chain. The Keynote Speaker has been announced as the CEO of ELYSIS, Vincent Christ. He will discuss the opportunities that ELYSIS brings for the aluminium industry and for Québec, in view of the upcoming start-up of ELYSIS Research and Development Centre in Jonquière, Québec.

Implementation & challenges Industry 4.0 maintenance Additive manufacturing

www.FutureAluminiumForum.com FutureAluminium_DPS_A4.indd All Pages

Cyber Security Resilience Workshop This 90-minute workshop will provide participants with an understanding of the unstructured and diverse nature of cyber threats/attacks in the aluminium sector, their potential impact in terms of costs and reputational damage to the industry, and the need for new approaches to manage the digital risks.

Sponsored by:

Official Media Partner:

Organised by: INIUM IND UM US AL

30 YEARS

R MORE TH Y FO TR

VISIT THE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Supported by:

NEW FOR 2020

TI OMO NG THE PR

The intelligent casthouse Data capturing and handling Cyber-security: Prevention and cure

• APPLYING INDUSTRY 4.0

Particular emphasis will be put on the sector’s requirements for effective preparation, identification, prevention, 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.

Join us to hear from other experts on:

• THE AI REVOLUTION

AN

TOPICS INCLUDE • SMELTER OF THE FUTURE

TO FIND OUT MORE AND BE PART OF THE FUTURE, CONTACT: Nadine Bloxsome | Conference Director nadinebloxsome@quartzltd.com +44 1737 855115 Nathan Jupp | Sales Manager nathanjupp@quartzltd.com +44 1737 855027

24/03/2020 09:58


36 SUSTAINABILITY

The push for sustainability isn’t anything new for the aluminium industry, but such efforts have accelerated in recent years helped by the “green” certification programs by certain groups, including the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). “Clearly aluminium producers are looking to promote themselves as being environmentally friendly, but to what extent that is being recognised by customers and to what degree it can be converted to a price premium remains to be seen,” Sergey Donskoy, a metals and mining analyst for Société Générale, said, adding: “I believe that everyone is moving towards a lower emissions world, but the question is how quickly that can be achieved and what the eventual configuration of the industry will be.” Geordie Wilkes, head of research for Sucden Financial, points out that the aluminium industry has taken a lot of steps over the past 20 to 30 years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, he says that it has reduced its carbon footprint by nearly 40 percent since 1995, including a sizable reduction in the electricity intensity of primary aluminium smelting, which, on average, went to about 14,000 kilowatt hours per tonne by 2017 from about 15,380 kilowatt hours per tonne in 2000. “Over the past several years this trend has accelerated,” Wilkes says. “It still has a long way to go, but we have seen both global governments and the big names in the industry are increasingly allocating time and funds to this issue, resulting in various new trademarks and initiatives.” “It is a whole value chain approach,” Matt Meenan, a spokesman for the Aluminum Association, says, “I think that all companies, whether they are primary aluminium companies or are further downstream, are making efforts to either improve their technologies to improve their internal processes to save energy or to use more recycled material. All those things are part of the game.” This, Rosa Garcia Pineiro, Alcoa Corp.’s vice president of sustainability, says comes at a time when clearly governments around the world are moving to support a low carbon society and implementing, or contemplating, policies that align with the goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions to stop global warming. She points out that such government action is aligned with an increasing number of enduse customers who want assurances that the raw material that go into their finished good are responsibly and sustainably produced. “At Alcoa, we believe that we can accelerate value creation by answering society’s increasing demand for

Striving for Sustainability By Myra Pinkham*

Austral Bracken Fern being planted near Alcoa’s Huntly Bauxite Mine in Australia

sustainable solutions,” Pineiro says. “We believe that will benefit both our company, our stakeholders and the world.” Also, she says it is the right thing to do. In fact, Wilkes says it is such aluminium end use customers that are providing the biggest push for the industry’s sustainability efforts. “Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the value of conducting business in an environmentally friendly way without greenwashing investors and consumers,” Wilkes says, although he admits that the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic could limit the funds that companies have to make this costly transition. “But it is part of their business now. They are well aware of the value in ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials and initiatives, so they can’t back off from it,” he says. “The industry definitely needs such ESG initiatives as ASI and guidance as to how companies can become more environmentally friendly,” Wilkes says. “For sure climate change is one of society’s biggest challenges, and something that is on everyone’s mind,” Catherine Athenes, vice president of group sustainability at Constellium says, noting that through the Paris Accord there is a common goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, “But there are varying views on aluminium’s role in that,” she says. “It is important that there isn’t any green washing, that companies are not just displacing one product with another without really making a difference,” Athenes points out. “At Constellium we

are doing our homework, working on our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, our own waste and recycling,” she says. “But we acknowledge that we are just one piece of a bigger puzzle and that everyone in the industry needs to work together.” This whole sustainability argument, at least when it comes to metals and resources, plays to one of aluminium’s strengths as defined by the industry, John Mothersole, director of research for IHS Markit’s pricing and purchasing service, says, given the metal’s physical characteristics and the realities of modern life. “There are advantages of adopting wider application of aluminium into such end use markets as packaging and transportation equipment,” he says, explaining that it is downstream, especially with the use of more recycled content, where aluminium’s strengths as a sustainable material really lies, noting that upstream production – everything from bauxite mining, alumina refining and aluminium smelting is a very dirty process. “Smelting, in particular, is very GHG intensive.” “Downstream, the industry is looking at some low hanging fruit to improve recycling,” Meenan says, with the Covid-19 pandemic and with China not accepting as much US recycled material putting stress on the system. However, he says that the Aluminum Association has been working with several groups, including the Recycling Partnership, to further drive increases in recycling rates. “Aluminium makes a lot of sense when it comes to the whole idea of a circular economy as it is a material that can be recycled over and over again,” he maintains.

*Correspondent July/August 2020

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Aluminium International Today

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SUSTAINABILITY 37

Particularly it has been moves to lightweight such transportation equipment as cars, trucks and trains that gives aluminium an edge on the sustainability front, Bjørn Kjetil Mauritzen, Hydro’s head of sustainability, says, noting that such lightweighting results in lower energy consumption, therefore, less GHG emissions. On the downstream end of the industry, Gregory Wittbecker, senior analyst for CRU, observes that the trend for increased use of recycled aluminium content has been going on since the 1980s, even before sustainability was a buzzword, and that trend has never backtracked and have actually been accelerating, especially given that over the past two years scrap prices have been selling at very attractive discounts to virgin metal and that today most can sheet is being made from 7080 percent recycled content and could, at least in theory could be made 100 percent from scrap. Athenes says that while increased use of post-consumer recycled content helps to limit emissions, it isn’t the answer to everything. “There isn’t enough scrap to cover all of today’s demand, so there is still a need for primary metal,” she explains. That said, the recycling of aluminium cans is one of the earliest examples of the aluminium industry’s sustainability efforts, Fiona Solomon, ASI’s Chief Executive Officer, says. She points out that in recent years the industry has been especially focused on ways to support responsible sourcing throughout the aluminium value chain, including setting up structured standards and certifications through such initiatives such as ASI, which helps companies and stakeholders come to an agreement as to what good practices look Aluminium International Today

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like. “We are seeing more companies becoming ASI certified,” Solomon says, with an uptick across the entire aluminium value chain. She notes that the ASI has a structure that enables everyone in the supply chain to come to the table to contribute to the organisation, including the implementation of industry standards. She notes that last year ASI had more than 50 certifications, up from 10 in 2018, when the program was first implemented. Likewise, its membership has gone from just a dozen companies five years ago to 126 members as of June 15 with expectations that it will continue to grow strongly. Solomon admits that historically there have been other types of certification in the aluminium sector, “But ASI certification covers a much broader range of sustainability issues than many other more technical standards,” she says. “It is a way for companies to grasp the bigger picture of what the sustainability challenges are throughout the value chain,” she says, adding that it enables everyone to work towards a common set of goals. Pineiro says given that ASI is the most recognised and respected organisation to verify responsible and sustainable production, she sees it as an important consideration for both producers and end use customers, adding that Alcoa has decided to pursue ASI certifications because doing so aligns with the work it has been doing across it business. She notes that the company already has 10 ASI certified locations and Chain of Custody certification and is working to certify more locations and future differentiate its product.

ASI is in the process of looking at how it could expand and improve its standard. “Ultimately ASI want to lift all boats, to ensure that sustainability principles are implemented as broadly as possible in the global value chain,” Solomon says. “It isn’t yet at the point where the ASI certifications cover the entire value chain,” Athenes maintains. “But that needs to happen.” She explains that the certification is a very good tool to check where you are in terms of sustainability credentials and practices, noting that when Constellium, which is one of the founding members of ASI, was doing this in its Singen, Germany, plant, it realised that it didn’t have a lot of information on the impact of the biodiversity of the site. “Now we partner with a local NGO to better understand what our impact could be and how to mitigate it.” “We are looking for bigger chunks of both the aluminium industry and its end use markets to get involved,” Athenes says. “But one big question is which comes first, the chicken or the egg. It is a complex value chain, so it will take some time, but we are starting to see the dots get connected.” Meenan says that, at least anecdotally, that more customers are becoming more aware of that ASI certification provides certainty that the aluminium they buy is produced in a responsible and sustainable way, therefore providing companies with such certification a competitive edge given that there is always pressure on the big consumer brands to have sustainability advantages that they could tout. “We don’t see ASI certification as being a competitive thing,” Solomon says. “Obviously, certain companies look at this as a way to differentiate themselves, but we provide these tools equally to everyone. It is up to individual companies to make use of that. Wittbecker points out that primary aluminium producers are also able to increase the sustainability of their products by integrating some recycled content back into their smelters – blending scrap int their virgin metal. “But that isn’t widespread,” he says. “Instead, the big initiatives taking place on the primary side is producers focusing their attention on offering lower carbon products,” with a number of companies, including Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Hydro and Rusal, rolling out branded virgin metal products that only have about 4 tonnes of carbon per tonne of aluminium produced compared with the standard industry average of about 12-13 tonnes of carbon per tonne of aluminium. He notes that these offerings are predicated on their ability to use renewable energy, particularly hydroelectric power. July/August 2020

03/07/2020 12:12:51


38 SUSTAINABILITY

“Using more green energy is definitely a way to help aluminium to get a lot greener, to help the industry to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” Wilkes admits. “But doing so is a long, tricky process given that success in doing this involves many factors, including energy storage and whether plants are located near hydroelectric, solar and wind power generation facilities.” Donskoy maintains that right now, the only workable green solution is hydropower. “But not everyone has access to hydropower. Those that do have such access are able to get ahead of the game and are naturally at an advantage.” He says that nuclear power could be any alternative solution, but it involves a large investment. “We aren’t in the position yet for other renewable energy solutions, such as wind power, to power aluminium smelters,” he says, “Although maybe we will eventually get there.” “The question remains how the entire industry, particularly those without such capabilities, can reduce their GHG emissions in an economic and sustainable way,” Athenes says, maintaining, “As of today there aren’t enough aluminium smelters that are fueled by hydropower to supply global consumption needs.” That isn’t to say that some aluminium companies haven’t made a bit of progress. Mauritzen says that last year – one year earlier than anticipated – Hydro, which achieved a goal set in 2013 to be carbon neutral from a lifecycle analysis standpoint for the metal that it produces. Hydro recently announced a second sustainability goal – to reduce its GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2030 through contributions from all of the company’s different business areas – bauxite, alumina, energy, primary metals, rolled products and extruded solutions. July/August 2020

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www.aluminiumtoday.com

Mauritzen observes that already 70 percent of Hydro’s power comes from renewable sources (hydropower and wind power), and that it has five smelters in Norway that are 100 percent renewables based, which has contributed to its ability to reduce it GHG emissions. He adds that as part of its efforts Hydro has introduced two new branded low carbon products into the market—CIRCAL, a recycled product that contains a minimum of 75 percent recycled, post-consumer scrap and REDUXA, a primary metal that through the use of renewable power has a carbon footprint that is less than a quarter of the global average. Donskoy says the holy grail for the aluminium industry is technologies that could enable companies to produce aluminium using inert anodes, therefore entirely doing away with carbon dioxide emissions during smelting. He says, “If the technologies that are currently being tested by Alcoa, Rio Tinto and Rusal prove to technologically feasible and possible to commercialize, companies will not only stop producing carbon dioxide, but will emit oxygen instead – something that is almost unthinkable at this point.” He said he isn’t sure how much of a competitive edge these companies will achieve, as once the technology is proven it will probably be adopted by all aluminium companies. One example of this technology is the Canadian based ELYSISTM joint venture that Alcoa and Rio Tinto formed in 2018. Pineiro says that the process that the joint venture has developed is now producing small quantities of carbon-free metal in a

pilot plant. “We are now working to scale up the ELYSISTM technology to industrial scale. Then the process can be marketed for potential retrofits of existing smelters or the construction of new ones,” she says, adding that ELYSISTM technology licenses are expected to begin to be offered in 2024. Wittbecker says that Rusal is working on a similar technology that might be brought to market in 2023. This, Wilkes pointed out, comes on the back of Rusal recently introduced its ALLOW low carbon footprint product line and its target for 95 percent hydropower or other carbonfree power generation for its production by 2025. “These efforts are a step in the right direction, both for these companies and for the industry,” Wilkes says. “I sense that everyone is aware of climate change and what it could mean for their business operations in the longer term,” Mothersole says, adding that he believes that the industry’s recent sustainability moves have been a combination of both concerns about the environment and a push to be more competitive, supported by a push from governmental regulations and the fact that sustainability arguments play into some of aluminium’s strengths. This will also continue to support sustainability efforts, such as ASI. “The aluminium industry is refreshingly very committed to sustainability. People in the industry are deeply passionate about the environment,” Solomon says. “It is in aluminium’s DNA to provide a culture in which an initiative like ASI can really be embraced. We believe that we will see a strong growth trajectory ahead.” � Aluminium International Today

03/07/2020 12:13:29


VEHICLE LIGHTWEIGHTING 39

Vacuum impregnation seals leak paths and porosity in metal castings, sintered metal parts and electrical components – crucial for complex cooling systems that need to be pressure and fluid tight within hybrid and BEV drive system castings.

Porosity sealing is key for NextGeneration Hybrid & Electric Vehicles Dr Mark Cross* explores the role of vacuum impregnation when implementing zero waste, zero defect and continuous improvements in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing. With the world focused on finding sustainable, low-carbon solutions for travel, the move to hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) adoption is well underway. According to Automotive News and a study by Boston Consulting Group, electrified vehicle sales (mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full batteryelectric vehicles) are expected to surpass internal-combustion-engine [ICE] vehicle sales by 2030, taking 51 percent of the market, with BEV and PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) categories accounting for c.25% of total vehicle sales. However, 82% of cars will still contain an ICE powertrain, with PHEVs, HEVs and mild hybrids all using internal combustion engines alongside their electric powertrain. Automotive manufacturers are under pressures from many sides. On the consumer side, there is a sharp drop in confidence in diesel due to the introduction of clean air zones, some of which are already in force, and a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles in the

UK by 2035. Meanwhile, governments around the world are tightening up on automotive emission legislation. In Europe, there are increasingly stringent CO2-emission regulations. In China, efficiency is paramount, with their ever-stricter Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) and New-Energy Vehicle (NEV) regulations testament to that. To meet these regulations and consumer needs, car makers are gearing up to launch a wave of new electric vehicle (EV) models during 2020. Many EVs on the market in recent years have been targeted at high-end markets with a price tag to match. However, 2020 will see the launch of EVs which are much more familiar and accessible to the average driver, including the MINI, the Vauxhall Corsa, the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen ID.3 and e-Up! being just a few to mention. There’s no doubt that significant advances have already been achieved in hybrid and BEV manufacturing in recent years. However, while these vehicles offer

a greener alternative during operation, it is increasingly important that the engineering and manufacturing process behind them is also environmentally sustainable. The role of vacuum impregnation in automotive manufacturing With vehicle weight having an adverse effect on battery usage, hybrid and BEV manufacturers are increasingly looking at ways to reduce overall vehicle mass. The use of structural die cast components can help - especially if manufacturers opt to substitute materials, such as steel, with lightweight materials like aluminium. By manufacturing drive and powertrain components, such as electric motors, from die cast aluminium, car makers can further reduce vehicle weight. In turn, battery range can be extended for BEVs and HEVs, while reducing vehicle emissions for the latter as well. However, porosity has long been an issue with die cast components. Microscopic holes form within a part’s body during the

*Commercial Sales Director at Ultraseal International Aluminium International Today

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July/August 2020

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40 VEHICLE LIGHTWEIGHTING

www.aluminiumtoday.com

Ultraseal’s range of recyclable sealants are passed through a sealant recovery system for retrieval and reuse, making them environmentally friendly and sustainable.

casting process, meaning the part may not be functionally sound and may have leak paths. In applications with requirements to be pressure or fluid-tight, for example in the complex cooling systems within hybrid and BEV drive system castings, this can be an especially critical issue. The move towards using increasingly thinner walled castings for powertrain components to reduce component weight also brings with it an increased risk of porosity. This makes the role of vacuum impregnation even more vital to avoid scrapping complex and high value components, whether for hybrid, internal combustion engine (ICE) or BEVs powertrains. Vacuum impregnation offers an OEM approved method for sealing leak paths and porosity in metal castings, sintered metal parts and electrical components. Using specialist impregnation equipment, voids are filled with a liquid sealant under vacuum, which is then turned into a chemically and thermally resistant polymer by heating in a hot cure process. When it comes to hybrid and BEV manufacturing, vacuum impregnation can be used to effectively seal die cast and electronic parts - against leakage or fluid ingress. As well as improving the reliability of components, the process reduces scrappage and lowers defect rates, in turn reducing waste and costs from the manufacturing process. Vacuum impregnation – Operational considerations With modern supply chains under increased economic pressure, treating porosity has become even more important. Scrapping fully machined parts is expensive, especially given the work invested in them. However, if a machined part fails after it has been July/August 2020

Ultraseal.indd 2

incorporated into a component such as an automotive compressor, then the costs associated with scrapping it at that stage are significantly higher. To meet this need, Ultraseal offers a range of equipment which can be incorporated into any production line as well as both managed in-house and offsite, impregnation services Modern front-loading impregnation systems offer speed, control and significant health and safety advantages to users, as well as a smaller footprint and the lowest cost of ownership. In situations where volume is a consideration, automated production

equipment offers the benefit of significantly reduced production and labour costs and lower operator involvement. These fully automated systems combine fast, consistent cycle times with best-inclass sealing performance, ensuring a consistent output quality and offering health and safety improvements. To maximise uptime and reduce the overall cost of ownership, Ultraseal’s expert team can remotely monitor the performance and operating history of the equipment, helping to optimise processes and minimise unplanned downtime. Finally, those who don’t have the need or space for a dedicated impregnation process in-house can tap into the company’s global network of sites which can manage the process from start to finish, or opt for a fully managed onsite service which offers a cost-effective, end-to-end, impregnation process management solution without investment in capital equipment or personnel. Vacuum impregnation – Recycling and Sustainability considerations In a traditional impregnation process, components are placed into an autoclave, where the component is immersed in sealant and a vacuum is used to draw the sealant into micro-porosities and leak paths. A cold wash module then removes excess sealant and a hot cure cycle exposes components to heat which polymerises the sealant, changing it from a liquid state to solid polymer. During the cold wash part of this

Porosity is a recognised issue with die cast components. Microscopic holes form within a part’s body during the casting process, meaning the part may not be functionally sound and may have leak paths.

Aluminium International Today

03/07/2020 08:21:50


41

www.aluminiumtoday.com

process, up to 98% of the sealant used goes down the drain as waste. To overcome this expensive wastage and meet increasingly stringent environmental guidelines, Ultraseal offers a range of recyclable sealants. Instead of being washed down the drain, the sealant is collected from the wash tank and passed through a sealant recovery system for retrieval and reuse. As well as a significant reduction in sealant consumption, the process uses significantly less water and removes the need to change wash-water tanks, significantly reducing downtime and improving process efficiency. Where customers have an incumbent supplier or have already invested in an impregnation solution, Ultraseal can convert existing systems to use Ultraseal’s recycling sealants. This helps to meet environmental regulations and reduce wastage without the need for capital expenditure on completely new systems.

Robotic Automated Impregnation System Fast-cycle times increase throughput for both single and multi-part processing.

to future-proof their business and stay relevant in the marketplace. Incorporating vacuum impregnation into manufacturing processes can help the Sealing your future in the automotive industry to reduce scrap and automotive industry As the automotive manufacturing market material wastage, improve component evolves, established vehicle manufacturers life cycles and improve environmental are investing significantly in the performance. As the journey towards RefractoryTech AI 2020 1 6/23/20 2:30 PM Pagecation 1 vehicle electrifi picks up pace, electrifi cation of theirOL.qxp_Layout product ranges

Ultraseal International has a turnkey solution to meet your needs and ensure you remain competitive in the new era of vehicle manufacturing. � For more information about solving the issue of porosity in manufacturing processes, visit www.ultraseal-impregnation.com.

METPUMP

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July/August 2020

03/07/2020 08:22:06


42 AEROSPACE

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Using aluminium in the aerospace industry By Kerry Kubatzke*

Aluminium is one of the most commonly used metals in modern society. From vehicle manufacturing to food storage, aluminium is prized for its strength to weight ratio and resistance to corrosion. In aerospace manufacturing, aluminium forms the backbone of the supply line, as its metallurgical properties make it the natural choice for building all manner of components. The History of Aluminium Aluminium has played a pivotal role in the historical development of the aerospace industry. Native aluminium (bare metal chunks of elemental aluminium) is extremely rare and is near-universally locked in ore. The refinement of aluminium ore is a recent development. Still, references to a compound named “alum” appear as early as the 5th century BCE, which was used to protect wooden structures from flames. In 1825, Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted officially announced the discovery of aluminium as a new element. By 1889, three separate engineers in France, the US, and Austria – Paul Heroult, Charles Martin Hall, and Joseph Bayer – developed two distinct processes for refining aluminium (the Hall-Héroult Process and the Bayer Process.) Aluminium in the Aerospace Industry In the aerospace industry, aluminium has been part and parcel of design and manufacturing since the Wright brothers. As steel engine blocks used in cars were not suitable for heavier-than-air flight, the Wright flyer used an engine made almost entirely from aluminium with the body of the craft made from various types of bamboo, wood, and canvas. In 1915, Hugo Junkers built the first allmetal aircraft, the Junkers J1, with an aluminium alloy fuselage. By the mid1930s, more modern aircraft designs emerged with multiple engines and

aluminium construction. Through World War II, aluminium manufacturing soared to fuel the massive air-raid campaigns employed by both the Allies and the Axis powers, with the US alone producing nearly 300,000 aircraft. In modern aerospace production, aluminium has only become increasingly more valuable. Fuselages use a highstrength, stress-resistant aluminium alloy, while other alloys are used for parts including pumps, valves, seats, engines, and turbines. There are many complex precision parts that comprise an aircraft, and aluminium is the lightweight metal of choice that forms the basis of nearly all of them. Benefits of Aluminium in Aerospace Construction Aluminium has a number of benefits, but it has four primary properties that make it the premier choice for aerospace manufacturing: � Lightweight: Elemental aluminium has a density of 2.7g/cm3, which is only about 35% of the density of iron and steel. A cubic foot of aluminium weighs only 169 lbs. This means that an airplane

made primarily of aluminium can dedicate more of its engine power to carrying cargo or passenger weight. � High Strength: Aluminium is a highstrength metal when compared to other types of elemental metals. It does not have the same strength as steel, but for its weight and cost, there is no other metal that can match the structural integrity of aluminium. � Abundance: Aluminium is an incredibly common material. Perhaps not as common as iron, but at ~1.2% of Earth’s mass, the planet theoretically contains 83.608x1021 kg of aluminium, making it incredibly cost-effective. � Corrosion Resistance: Like all metals, aluminium does corrode, but it does not rust like iron or steel. Iron-oxide is much less dense than elemental steel; this is why it flakes off, exposing more iron to air and leading to more rust. Aluminiumoxide is only a slightly duller grey than aluminium, thus harder to notice. In addition, aluminium-oxide is hard and dense, which actually clings tightly to the surface of aluminium and protects the metal below from exposure to air. In essence, the corrosion protects the rest

*Lead Sales Manager, Anchor Harvey www.AnchorHarvey.com. July/August 2020

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Aluminium International Today

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AEROSPACE 43

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Processing Aluminium In aerospace manufacturing, various aluminium processes are more useful than others. The high-stakes, high-performance environment of air travel necessitates a very complex and precisely designed retinue of processed aluminium parts to supply the world’s aerospace needs.

of the material from further corrosion. This innate corrosion resistance reduces maintenance costs and makes airplanes overall safer for passengers and personnel. Aluminium Alloys and Their Uses Aluminium is not commonly used in its elemental form. Modern metallurgy has the capability to design precise material alloys that are perfect for each particular application. There are, however, a few large categories of aluminium alloys and each has a discrete set of applications: � 1000 Series: These types of alloys are mostly pure aluminium, with percentages of 96% and above. These alloys can be heat treated and work hardened. Alloys in this category can be used in electrical or chemical manufacturing, sheet and plate extrusion, and some aerospace fuselage construction. � 2000 Series: These alloys are primarily alloyed with copper. Decades ago, these alloys were commonly used in aerospace applications, but nowadays, they are too prone to cracking under stress for modern applications. These series alloys still do find use in aircraft engine manufacturing, however, and some armour plating. � 3000 Series: These alloys are primarily alloyed with manganese. 3000 series alloys are generally uncommon but can find use in high strength sheets and foils, and beverage cans. � 4000 Series: These alloys are primarily alloyed with silicon. The presence of high silicon makes these alloys harder than 1000 alloys. Thus, these types of alloys can find use in forgings, architectural extrusions, and hard metal sheets. � 5000 Series: These alloys are primarily alloyed with magnesium. These alloys are very corrosion resistant and find use in marine applications or other acidic/ corrosive atmospheres. � 6000 Series: These alloys are a primary mixture of magnesium in silicon, and mix the best properties of each of those types of alloys. � 7000 Series: These alloys are Aluminium International Today

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primarily alloyed with zinc. These alloys often find use in aerospace applications, moulds, armour plating, and extrusion applications. � 8000 Series: All other alloys with other materials fall under this series of alloys. Common alloying elements include iron, vanadium, silicon, tin, lithium, chromium, and copper. The following alloys are the most common in aerospace applications: � 2024: A copper-alloy used when a high strength to weight ratio is required, like fuselage structures and wings. � 5052: A magnesium/chromium alloy, used for high-strength applications in marine environments. � 6061: A silicon/magnesium/copper alloy that’s easy to weld and often used in all manner of aerospace applications. � 6063: A silicon/magnesium alloy used for its finishing characteristics; often used in anodizing applications. � 7050: A zinc/magnesium/copper/ zirconium alloy with high corrosion resistance and fracture durability. A top choice for all aerospace applications. � 7068: A reformulation of the 7050 alloy, 7068 aluminium is the strongest available alloy on the market. � 7075: A similar formulation to 7050 and 7068, with great machinability and resistance to fatigue.

� The aerospace industry makes much more use of forged parts when making those parts of the aircraft under high stress. The fuselage and wing structures need to be forged and rolled to maximize their strength under various flexing angles. � Various oxygen sensors, valves, and couplings that are under much less stress can be cast. This reduces the cost of the overall vehicle structure, as forging is very expensive. � Aerospace vehicles are required to maintain pressure, which means that they need to be airtight. Thus, all parts of the vehicle responsible for maintaining pressure must be machined to such high precision that two mating metal parts are airtight. Aerospace manufacturers pay a premium to precision machine shops to ensure that all of their machined parts are of the highest quality. � Aerospace vehicles have to deal with extreme environments constantly. Thus, special coatings and paints are routinely applied to many vital parts of the vehicle.

Conclusion Aluminium is one of the most common materials on Earth and features heavily in industries throughout the manufacturing world. In aerospace, the lightweight highstrength ratios of aluminium make it the premier choice for industry applications. Aerospace wouldn’t be possible at the scale we enjoy today if it weren’t for advances in the aluminium manufacturing industry. Of course, engineers are constantly looking for ways to improve all parts of the process, and the aerospace industry only pushes the aluminium industry forward. �

July/August 2020

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44 DIGITAL TWINS

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Strength in times of uncertainty Impacts to production and demand, staff absence/layoffs and disruptions to supply chains have created a time of uncertainty in the aluminium market. Here, Mandy Guiberteau Tague* explains how predictive simulation technology can help. The unstable status quo Amid this Coronavirus outbreak, the aluminium industry is looking to keep up with the unprecedented change in the sector. In a world where uncertainty is the new norm, the aluminium industry is facing tough choices when balancing the stability of robust existing processes with the agility needed to meet volatile market conditions. Tried-and-trusted supply chains that may have been solid over the years have evaporated overnight, from disrupted mining operations downstream to upstream increases in demand for incorporation into products, for example, PCB circuit boards in medical devices. This provides businesses with operational curveballs that they have never encountered, let alone had to overcome. From Alcoa to the Aluminium Extruders Council – no company or organisation

has been immune to the virus that has changed so much. In these circumstances, it is important that decisions are made based on data and facts and that those making the decisions are properly informed. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball to see the future and see how long the pandemic will last, and the resulting impact it will have on businesses and the economy. There is, however, an abundance of data and modelling expertise, that when combined with simulation technology, can provide the foresight needed to act now and get ahead of the pandemic, and at zero risk Answering the what if‌ For the aluminium industry, the nirvana of all equations is of increasing profit, while responding to demand, and improving efficiencies – and doing this in a way

that presents zero risk to the business. Historically, static modelling has helped the industry in certain areas, but with the increased adoption of predictive digital twins, companies can more easily model all stages of the production and downstream activity - creating business value and unprecedented insight. Being able to test and make assumptions and decisions in a virtual world can provide clarity across areas such as capital investments, resource planning, process design or even service policies. Predictive simulation enables decisions to be reached quickly, without risk, by neither impacting production or supply chain delivery. It provides answers to the most fundamental or innovative transformation questions, allowing production decisions that could have a profound impact on the business. Ultimately, simulation leads to smarter risk-free business decisions, with

*Lanner Spokesperson July/August 2020

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Aluminium International Today

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DIGITAL TWINS 45

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little risk, while potentially driving higher returns on investments. Lanner’s digital twins offer companies around the world insights into how to mitigate risk and operate their businesses most efficiently. Facing the challenge How can companies respond quickly enough to meet international needs in uncertain times? There is no quick fix and the situation is changing daily,

Furnaces International brings readers a selection of technical features focusing on all aspects of the international furnaces market, as well as industry news, events, and regular columns from the British Industrial Furnace Constructors Association (BIFCA).

however, during a disruptive event such as the Coronavirus outbreak, predictive simulation can provide facts based in data, to enable decision-makers to manage the current situation to their advantage. As the consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak continue to evolve, these simulation models can rapidly test the ‘what-if’ questions required to make good investment decisions with confidence, with zero risk. In times like this, when things can

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seem so uncertain and we are looking to facts to help us carry on with our lives, predictive simulation can be used to offer clarity and certainty in the future, it allows investment decisions to be made while obtaining a measurement of any risk based on the virtual scenarios being playing out. � Contact: www.lanner.com

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July/August 2020

02/07/2020 12:23:45


46 AUGMENTED REALITY

Empowering front line workers with augmented reality By Eric Almquist* The metallurgical industry is facing a serious challenge related to its workforce. Crews of fewer workers are being asked to do more. While this enhanced productivity is a good thing for a company’s bottomline, this more hectic workload and other trends foretell troubling challenges ahead. Tribal Knowledge is the collection of operational knowledge specific to a particular organisation. Tribal knowledge is an intangible asset of incalculable value. Generally older employees have more experience within the organisation and collect this tribal knowledge over the years and decades working with equipment and the standard operating procedures. The trend of leaner crews means fewer chances for mentor/apprentice relationships to transfer knowledge from those more experienced (typically older) people holding the knowledge to those needing it. Furthermore, the trend of lean, efficient, productive workforces has often increased the difference in age within the crew. The consumer digital revolution with PCs and Internet connected mobile phones in the last decades have further exacerbated challenges to the transfer of knowledge between older workers and the younger “digital natives” whom were born into a world of direct messaging and video chats. Research shows generations fundamentally prefer different communications methods. The COVID-19 global pandemic has mandated minimising interaction between people. Furthermore, older people – those holding the tribal knowledge – are more vulnerable to the disease and may choose to further limit their interaction. Medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the USA’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have advised the public should plan to wait until at least November or December 2020 before a vaccine may begin to be available and much additional months for the hundreds of millions of doses to reach across the public. In the meantime, months continue to pass for everyone including those experienced workers holding the tribal knowledge. In the face

Milgram Virtuality Continuum (c. 1994) + Extended Reality

of these extended timeline, restrictions around interaction, and the enhanced vulnerability of elders to COVID it is logical many of these older knowledgeable workers will choose to retire – taking their valuable knowledge with them. What was a slow-burn and challenging topic of retaining tribal knowledge within a company and training the next waves of less-equipped people has increased in urgency with COVID. Who knows what unknown pandemic may lie ahead to create more barriers to teach and learn best practices developed over the decades? In the face of this grim assessment there is good news of tools to immediately help forward looking organisations digitally obtain, retain, and deliver Tribal Knowledge. Augmented reality (AR) technology has recently reached maturity to empower front-line workers with the ability to digitally capture tribal knowledge and deliver it to others needing that knowledge at any given time. AR is the humanmachine-interface (HMI) of Industry 4.0 and will, within ~7 years, be the primary means of interacting with our personal digital devices at work, home, and in between. AR will revolutionize the labor workspace just as the PC revolutionized the office workspace since the 1980s. Front-line labor workers using AR are empowered with information technology (IT) pertinent to their job.

Augmented Reality Introduction Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that presents a layer of digital information to the user such that the digital information seems as real as physical objects around the user; AR augments the user’s reality. The layer of digital information is primarily visual, but audio is a common secondary enhancement. AR’s core benefit is its ability to present digital information directly within the context of the real object of interest. The user does not have to redirect their gaze or concentration away from the object of their task. Information pertinent to the task is presented in view as if the information were attached to the real object. In other words, AR is mixing the digital information with reality. In 1994 a Canadian researcher, Paul Milgram, published a research paper defining the spectrum of displays as a ratio of real-to-virtual content. In the last five years some AR technology companies and pundits have used the term mixed-reality, or MR, in an attempt to differentiate and attain and some level of branding of an enhanced capability compared with the more generic term of AR. However, for all practical purposes and the sake of simplicity, it is appropriate to refer to MR practical equivalent to AR. What is important to note is AR and virtual reality (VR) are different. VR’s goal is to replace the user’s reality with a virtual substitute. AR seeks to enhance the user’s interaction with reality by presenting the

*Star Tool & Die Works July/August 2020

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Aluminium International Today

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AUGMENTED REALITY 47

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useful layer of digital information. AR’s ability to enhance reality make it ideal to provide knowledge in context for the user. Most VR applications relate to solitary experiences like training, therapy, or entertainment. One final note while accounting for terminology; Extended reality (XR) is sometimes cited as an umbrella term to contain the entire domain between the most modest version of AR to the most sophisticated version of VR. Some commonly accessible applications of augmented reality (AR) in popular culture nowadays are in television sports with reference lines projected on a sports field, e.g., offside line for football match (figure X), a heads-up-display (HUD) in an aircraft cockpit as seen on television or the movies (figure X), and the growing popularity of mobile phone apps to display 3D models of furniture, like a desk, within a room for the buyer to consider the expected aesthetic before making the purchase. Augmented reality (AR) requires the user to operate with a client device. For mobile AR there are two (2) form-factor types of client devices. The more common type is the less-sophisticated but moreaccessible hand-held tablet or mobile phone. In this case the device augments reality electronically within the device. The device’s rear-facing camera provides the electronics the view of the physical space. The electronics mix the real and digital entities before sending the combined image of the camera’s view mixed with the virtual content, displaying the augmented reality. When the user moves the phone or tablet the electronics adjust the digital entities to seem connected to the physical world. The second, less-common and more-sophisticated form-factor is the Head Mounted Display (HMD). Generally speaking, HMDs augment the user’s reality by mapping the physical entities around the user and projecting digital information stereoscopically on transparent screens called waveguides, one in front of each eye. When done well the digital entities appear with 3D depth and as real as the physical objects in the room. Oftentimes the digital entities seem linked to the real objects – so as to appear as real as the physical entities. So how does augmented reality help empower front-line workers? Retaining tribal knowledge and making it convenient is the goal of industrial plants. A great deal of tribal knowledge relates to stepwise procedures; also referred to as workflows. Knowing a workflow is one thing, say for example, removing the front tires from a road car: 1) set parking brake, chock rear wheels. 2) jack front of car. Etc., etc. But this is not tribal knowledge. Tribal knowledge relates to details on a Aluminium International Today

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multitude of additional factors: what type of car, where to lift, how high, why these details matter, tricks related to doing a job faster, safer, etc. These details are tribal knowledge and transform workflows to workflow art. Art implies something is not commonplace. Art implies something is unique and valuable. Knowing the procedure to correctly repair or rebuild a particular critical, complex component is workflow art. In mechanical systems it is a common occurrence to adjust the OEM’s stepwise workflow procedure to service equipment once it has been installed for various reasons the OEM could not anticipate. Creativity of field workers made lead to more efficient or safer procedures than the OEM procedure could anticipate. Those or any number of other factors spawn increasingly sophisticated and valuable tribal knowledge and workflow art that is not recorded in manuals and relies on mentor-apprentice relationships to endure. When augmented reality (AR) tool are implemented correctly they can disrupt the negative trends of these increasingly rare mentoring/teaching opportunities. Just as augmented reality (AR) hardware devices have a range of different capabilities, AR software solutions have a tremendous range of capabilities. The most capable AR system (software and hardware) enables the knowledgeable front-line workers to digitally record – author – their workflow art directly into the AR system. Once that workflow art is authored it is digitally captured for posterity. From that moment any worker can reference the workflow art. Even more, they can reference the information at the equipment for the actual job or anywhere in the world they are for training on the workflow. Field Authoring is an extremely

unique and powerful capability for AR software. Beyond authoring and using workflows, augmented reality (AR) systems can truly connect all worker functions with information in the vein of Industry 4.0’s promise of the digitally interconnected factory of machines and workers. It is typical for AR software systems to display data feeds on equipment equipped and mapped with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT/IoT) telemetry sensors. It is most typical for AR software systems to have an Internet web portal to enable supporting documents, drawings, models, images, video, and other supporting information to be uploaded to the AR system server for use by the system users. Workforce members like millwrights, inspectors, and other skilled trades can typically access workflows to follow while also being able to upload evidence of their stepwise work done correctly. Any employee having information can digitally record their tribal knowledge and any employee requiring access to that tribal knowledge can access it. AR Implemented at Tata Steel Between April and October 2019 the Coated Products Group (CPR) of Tata Steel Europe’s Ijmuiden plant displayed exceptional leadership by being the first metallurgical plant in the world to conduct a proof-of-concept (PoC) of AR software called MANIFEST with AR Integrator, Star Tool & Die Works. Star Tool provided local support for Tata Steel during the PoC from Amsterdam near Tata’s plant. Amongst other things the local support expert helped Tata Steel with their AR head-mounted-display (HMD) hardware, generating workflow procedures, training staff on all aspects of HMD and Internet portal functions, adding 3D models from

Simplified of typical roles and flows for “authoring” and “using” AR content

July/August 2020

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48 AUGMENTED REALITY

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A series of images showing the welder wheel refinishing machine and views from the head mounted display (HMD) viewing a video, instructions, and leader lines embedded in 3D space as part welder wheels refinishing procedure at Tata Steel

CAD and from photogrammetry: digitally combining dozens of digital photos of a piece of equipment into a 3-dimensional model. One particular success of workflow art being authored for posterity was the procedure to correctly refinish copper welder wheels for the coil joiner at the entry of a continuous galvanizing line (CGL). The surface of the copper welder wheels is extremely critical as the wheels’ trapezoidal perimeter cross-section and surface determines amperage passing between the welder wheels on both sides of the two (2) layers of steel coil: joining the tail of the previous coil to the head of the next coil. If the wheels are refinished incorrectly the weld quality joining the coil ends can fail. A weld breaking in a modern CGL can result in a line shutdown between several hours to more than one day. The workflow art expert authored the ~20 step procedure using an AR head mounted display (HMD) recording detailed audio notes, video, images, and placing markers in 3D space around the wheel refinishing machine. The next day am operator who had done or been trained for the procedure wore the HMD and followed the workflow procedure using only the HMD and achieved perfectly finished welder wheels. From that point the critical tribal art of refinishing welder wheels was finished reducing the chance of weld failure, late-night calls from less experienced operators, and other problems related to inexperience. Unfortunately, since October 2019 until today the

European steel market conditions followed by the COVID pandemic have delayed Tata Steel proceeding from the PoC to full implementation of MANIFEST AR with Star Tool.

was again less than the less experienced mechanic using MANIFEST, but the TO mechanic made a total of eight (8) errors while the less experienced MANIFEST mechanic made zero errors.

Augmented Reality Increases Worker Capability and Accuracy Industrial augmented reality (AR) workflow systems are proven to improve technician capability and accuracy (limiting mistakes). The United States Air Force conducted a robust study comparing aircraft maintenance service workflows between MANIFEST AR to traditional procedure manuals (a.k.a., Technical Order, or “TO”) Two separate studies were conducted and shown on the included chart. Study 1: Four (4) experienced aircraft mechanics were monitored for time and mistakes over eight (8) procedures. 1a) Two (2) of these four (4) mechanics were of the highest skill level (#7). One used MANIFEST AR and the other used the traditional manuals (TO). Neither of these mechanics made a single error, both of whom are tribal knowledge and workflow art experts and the mechanic using TO was 16% faster after all eight (8) jobs than the mechanic using MANIFEST. 1b) The other two (2) mechanics of the four (4) in Study 1 were less experienced. The mechanic using traditional TO manuals was skill level #5 with 4 years experience. The mechanic using MANIFEST AR was skill level #3 with 1 year experience. The total time needed to complete all eight (8) proceedures for the mechanic using TO

Study 1 Summary: 16 procedures with TO = 8 errors & 19% faster than MANIFEST. 16 procedures with MANIFEST = 0 errors & 24% slower than TO

Sum of errors Count of CNF

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Chart comparing MANIFEST AR to traditional manual procedure instructions (a.k.a., TO)

Study 2: Four (4) inexperienced, Skill Level #1, mechanics of 5~7 months experience were assigned a total of six (6) procedures (#3~#8) from the eight the more experienced mechanics conducted in Study 1. Mechanics #1 & #2: 4 TO tasks + 2 MANIFEST tasks #3 & #4: 2 TO tasks + 4 MANIFEST tasks Study 2 Summary: MANIFEST enabled the inexperienced mechanics to complete every procedure without a single error. The inexperienced mechanics were able to complete only 4 or 12 procedures using TO – they could not finish (CNF) 8 procedures of the 12 – and 4 errors were made: 1 error per procedure completed using TO. This USAF study is convincing that augmented reality (AR) systems dramatically enhance the ability of inexperienced technicians and insures the accuracy of all abilities. AR is in your company’s future and should be sooner than later. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that will change life at work and home. AR is the HMI of our digital future. As bold as it may sound, AR is inevitable at any company operating 5~10 years from today and this is important because every industrial country except for India is projected to have a significant to critical deficit of skilled workers by 2030 with shortages already affecting manufacturing of G7 countries. More urgent than this constraint is the pressure to collect tribal knowledge before it leaves with the wave of retirees born between 1955~1965. AR is a solution. �

Aluminium International Today

03/07/2020 12:08:02



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