Alcoa‘s QUASAR Global Program Manager Dr. Dennis Mason said, ‘Controlling production in an alumina refinery is a difficult task. Productivity and safety rely on reliable, real-time, process information, so that the alumina refining process and equipment can be monitored, maintained, and adjusted to get the maximum benefit.
‘As a global leader in alumina production, we realized to continue to succeed in the global commodity business, we must have the ability to produce alumina safely at the lowest possible cost.
‘In addition to our operating practices, we recognized that automation, process control and instrumentation were going to be some of the key business drivers to give us a significant competitive advantage, and that‘s how QUASAR was born in 2001.‘
Alcoa World Alumina decided to take process control at its seven refineries around the world (three in Western Australia, three in Central and South America and one in Europe) to a new level ‘ aiming to implement the same system in each plant, with full integration to enable global knowledge sharing, remote monitoring, 24/7 support, and best practice benchmarking capabilities.
By working with Honeywell, a suite of advanced process control applications and newly developed instrumentation were used on top of a revamped infrastructure layer to deliver several benefits. Among them, reduced alumina process variability and the ability to operate the refineries closer to their practical limits, all while using less energy and raw materials. This, in turn, increased production rates, improved process efficiencies, and reduced waste and emissions at the refineries.
The benefits for Alcoa at the Western Australian sites alone:
- have exceeded A$8 million per year in savings, including reductions in green house gases and raw material usage;
- contributed around A$40 million to the local economy through implementation contracts;
- and, have shown that automation, control and instrumentation, and the advanced control applications have not only reduced environmental incidents but have allowed safer operation of the plants and quicker stabilization from adverse plant events.
Dr. Mason said, ‘Shared leadership, resources, engineering ingenuity and technology have worked together to deliver the most significant step change in the way process control technology is managed.
‘The project‘s success demonstrates what is possible with innovative design, sound engineering practices, strong project management and well developed implementation.
‘With all the hard work undertaken by so many people around the world, it is fantastic to be recognized alongside Honeywell by Engineers Australia for this project.‘
Dave Olney, Vice President, Technology, Alcoa of Australia concluded, ‘The QUASAR program has been a significant and very successful undertaking. It has delivered major benefits to our business, largely through capturing and leveraging the creative talent of Honeywell and Alcoa in process control automation across Alcoa‘s refining system.‘
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) is the world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa’s businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components including flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, Alcoa also markets AlcoaÂ® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems. The Company has 97,000 employees in 34 countries and has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com