Our President, Patrice Côté, speaks about the Aluminum Industry in an article in AlCircle for their March/April 2022 edition of the LeaderSpeak magazine.
Context and challenges of the industry
Aluminum Industry, like many other industries, is facing new challenges.
The lack of available manpower has experimented within many countries. This issue will increase in the next few years. Even more, attractiveness for some tasks is lower for a new generation of workers. Some plants will be facing risk for operational continuity.
Also, the situation in terms of global climate and greenhouse emissions represents a big challenge for our modern society - which requires real actions and new solutions. More and more groups and companies participate in this worldwire effort to bring new opportunities. Aluminum recycling is one piece of the puzzle to achieve the goal of ensuring a greener economy.
Meanwhile, reponsible companies integrate aluminum recycling into their marketing strategy. Customers in general are more sensitive to this aspect. So, this is why we observe that these direct customer suppliers ask their providers to increase the recycling of their contents in their products. This is how the value chain is solicited.
Those challenges bring new opportunities for the aluminum industries.
Dynamic Concept has been involved in many projects in both process engineering support and adapted equipment solution for Casthouse around the world. Consequently, many solutions for automation, robotics and recycling have been developed by our team.
Automation and Robotic
To address the lack of manpower, automation and robotics are solutions to consider. They also bring additional benefits that can make the implementation investment very profitable. Increasing automation and control levels allow a better repeatability of the process leading to a better recovery rate.
For example, Dynamic Concept vertical automatic hands-free casting system control all casting steps and parameters in order to optimize the process and remove operators from any hot metal exposure.
In addition, automated systems and robotics can replace task exposed to heat and dust. It will be more and more difficult to find people welling for those tasks.
Dynamic Concept is developing robotic solutions for Casthouse. For exemple, we developed a polyvalent fully programmable multi-task robot for furnace tending. It brings many advantages such as accuracy of the operation, and efficiency of skimming and cleaning while decreasing or eliminating of refractory damages. Another example is the robotic skimming operation saw casting.
Recycling and closed loop economy
The availability of post-consumer scrap has always been a challenge. In some regions, this type of scrap used to be transported away to be recycled elsewhere. The trend is to minimize transportation and CO2 emissions through local recycling. The result is that more scrap is available in some markets, as we can see in North America.
In many processes, an efficient way to recycle is to recover scrap generated in the same value chain. For exemple, an aluminum slab supplier can recover scraps from its own customers and sub customers to cast new slabs. The advantage of this is the compatibility of the products in terms of alloys and other characteristics. The required equipment is simpler, and the constant supply of scrap is easier to guarantee.
There is no unique solution to implement recycling. It is a case by case approach. Dynamic Concept proposes a flexible approach in terms of design and configuration that would support the customers in all steps for recycling projects.
Stydying all those parameters in order to fit the best solution and configuration is the key to success. Then, we support the client for the further steps of project implementation either with our adapted equipment and/or other supplier equipment. The idea to provide the client the best available solution on the market and implement the best configuration for his needs.
For scrap handling, changing, treatment and melting, many options are possible depending on the type of material to be recycled. Some require sorting and pre-treatment, others can be loaded directly. Many melting solutions are to be considered such as a rotating furnace, a multi-chamber furnace, fume post burning requirements, level of automation, preheating requirements, etc.
The metal transfer is a key factor in the recycling configuration. In some existing plants, crucibles are already used for molten metal transfer or route. So, many options are possible and Dynamic Concept has direct experience with most of them.
The aluminum industry is facing new challenges that can be turned into opportunities. Implementing automation and robotics will compensate in part for lack of manpower and improve productivity at the same time.
Increase recycling levels helps to decrease overall greenhouse emissions and also production costs.
Dynamic Concept is positioned to support aluminum producers by bringing both technical support and solutions for those new challenges.