MRO Magazine

Alcan facility to save $1 million a year using new dynamic analysis process

Alcan Inc. of Montreal has begun to improve processing operations at its Alumina and Specialty Chemicals facility at its Jonquiere Complex in Quebec. The plant produces specialty hydrates, which have to be manufactured with very stringent quality...


December 1, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Alcan Inc. of Montreal has begun to improve processing operations at its Alumina and Specialty Chemicals facility at its Jonquiere Complex in Quebec. The plant produces specialty hydrates, which have to be manufactured with very stringent quality requirements — a process that leads to challenging dynamic process control applications.

Previous loop-tuning work had been undertaken with little business impact. As a result, a team from Emerson Process Management of Austin, Tex., was brought in to implement a dynamic analysis process to reduce variability — and Alcan experienced significant production increases.

In February 2003, Alcan engaged the services of Emerson and Laurentide Controls Ltd. of Montreal with the objective of improving the washing and drying operations within the plant. Laurentide is a local business partner for Emerson and is the largest supplier of automation solutions in eastern Canada.

Using Emerson’s EnTech Diagnostic Toolkit, the team realized that process optimization would more likely be achieved by a revision of the process control strategy and design than by loop tuning.

Advertisement

Following the implementation of the initial modifications in the mill’s Provox system, Alcan recorded a 60% reduction in the dryer temperature variations, as well as a 12% production increase. In financial terms this production increase will be worth over $1 million a year.

The next phase of work will have a different aim. The overall objective is a 15% reduction of natural gas usage per ton produced. In the interim, it is likely that Alcan will install advanced motion control tools such as Model Predictive Control (MPC) to further enhance its operations.

In other developments, Alcan has announced it will build two new facilities in Quebec, and it has received an award naming it a top Canadian corporate citizen.

The company will build a $25-million manufacturing facility for the production of aluminum structural assemblies for the automotive industry in the Saguenay region of Quebec and will invest up to $150 million in the construction of a treatment plant in Saguenay to deal with spent potlining (SPL). (Spent potlining is the material removed from the bottom of electrolytic cells used to produce aluminum.)

Last June, Alcan Inc. received an award for being Canada’s best corporate citizen. It placed first out of the TSX 100 companies judged in 2003 by Corporate Knights magazine. The Canadian-based multinational also ranked first in the materials sector in a field of 21 other corporations.

Founded in 2001, Corporate Knights publishes a quarterly corporate social responsibility magazine.