Close collaboration on a joint venture, turnkey project sees production capacity increase from 460,000 to 530,000 tonnes per annum for global leader Tomago Aluminium.
For a company generating more than $800 million annually and employing 1000 people maintaining a competitive edge in the global market is critical. For international leader Tomago Aluminium this meant a large-scale upgrade of its existing AP18 smelter plant to the latest AP22 technology to be completed over a four-year period.
Upgrading to the newly developed AP22 technology increases the amperage of the electrical current flow through the smelting cells in which aluminium is made, which, in turn, results in a dramatic increase in smelting capacity. Essential to the success of the project at Tomago was the installation of three induction furnaces each producing large rodded anodes – the carbon blocks used to conduct electricity through the smelting cells.
An installation of this complexity relies on three fundamentals: foundry knowledge; system integration expertise; and close collaboration with the client. For Tomago Aluminium the total automation solution was created by a successful three-way tie with Machinery Automation & Robotics – market leader in industrial automation and robotics – and foundry industry specialist Inductotherm.
Handling a project of this magnitude is tough. At the peak of construction Tomago Aluminium was overseeing a project team of 300 personnel. MAR understands the challenges faced by clients undertaking large-scale automation upgrades and works closely with them to create a total automation solution.
At Tomago three six-tonne steel shell induction furnaces were installed, each with high tech variable frequency power supplies with redundancy ensuring continuous metal production even in the event of equipment failure. MAR completed the system automation and power connection from an 11kv supply in addition to full system integration including the water-cooling system, hydraulics, pneumatics and mechanical installation. Strict occupational health and safety standards were adhered to in the design and installation of the system and fully documented job safety analyses were completed to ensure workplace safety requirements were maintained during tight installation windows.
Maximum input, minimum disruption
With just 18 months in which to complete the turnkey installation of the induction furnaces in a fully operational plant MAR was committed to the project on a full-time basis. Understanding Tomago’s need for minimum disruption to production, however, the team successfully limited production downtime to just two ten-hour shifts per month when installation work was undertaken on the furnaces themselves. At all other times both on-site and off-site programming and documentation-based work was completed during production times while 24-hour / 7-day shifts continued virtually uninterrupted
Adding up the benefits
For Tomago Aluminium a total automation solution ensured peace of mind and:
- An increase in melting capacity by 72% upon completion of project
- A turnkey solution
- Close collaboration of industrial automation and foundry industry expertise
- Minimum disruption to production
- Onsite staff training
- Ongoing technical support to ensure system reliability
- Full compliance with occupational health and safety requirements