Last week, the AlCircle presented Aluminium Industry 4.0: Drivers & Change Makers. Quantillion featured with a case study on smart logistics in the potroom. This is our case study as featured in the magazine.
You can find the entire e-magazine for free at AlCircle.com.
We believe in a primary aluminium industry in which people do not have to be exposed to the dangers of high current, molten metal and corrosive dust for their everyday operations.
And since aluminium plants are essentially a combination of logistical processes – related to anode transport, molten metal transport, bath transport and more – we believe that to achieve this vision, smelters have to come up with new approaches for their logistical processes.
We call this smart logistics, and it is an implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies for existing smelters. The business case for smarter logistics is clear: not only can it help to make the processes safer and more reliable, but the financial impact is also significant: we estimated over 4.5 million USD yearly OPEX savings for a 600,000 tonnes production site.
So, how does this Industry 4.0 application work in practice? What are the hurdles that smelters have to overcome, and how do they do so?
From push to pull: minimizing the amount of metal on the move
Firstly, we see smelters moving from pushing metal from the potroom to pulling it from the casthouse. On one hand this helps smelters to achieve better cycle times, less waiting and higher asset utilization rates, but on the other hand is also minimizes the amount of time that hot metal is on the move – improving health and safety.
Industry 4.0 comes in here, in predicting and communicating the work orders between casthouse, transport agents (e.g. AGVs) and the potroom. A layer of intelligence can learn from past actions, and use trusted data such as metal levels, metal composition and more to make recommendations.
To bring this into the potroom, there are multiple options. For example, we provide a mobile application, to let potroom operators gather this data and let casthouses give orders to the operators for when to tap.
Keeping workflows separated: smart traffic management
Secondly, smelters look for ways to achieve working processes in traffic flows have minimal ‘handshakes’. By ‘handshake’, we mean interactions between different AGVs, vehicles and/or operators. In an Industry 4.0 setting with mixed systems (e.g. AGVs among human driven vehicles), that means that extra care has to be taken for creating a good trusted data layer that helps to assess where everyone is and what they are doing.
Furthermore, such a system has to work with different equipment suppliers, as it needs to create a form of a Digital Twin based on process data from Automated Guided Vehicles, human-driven vehicles, pots, cranes and casthouse to get a full overview of the actual status of operations. Such a system needs to learn continuously from this data and historical results, to continuously improve.
Quantillion builds technology for primary metals industry that let every worker, every machine and every plant use data to continuously and autonomously improve safety, quality and output.
If you are interested in what our Industrial AI platform can mean for your organization, we are here to help.