Noranda discovers the promise of unified technology

Sep 30, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Gregory DL Morris

Tags  Noranda Aluminum, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Crowe Horwath, Ethan Lane, Josh Cole, Rakesh Kumar, Dynamcis AX 2012, Gregory DL Morris

When Noranda Aluminum was created, it boasted a fully integrated suite of upstream and downstream assets. It also had a melange of accounting, risk-management, supply chain and management software. The mix of mines and mills was a competitive advantage, but the patchwork of software was not. New leadership made the decision to replace the entire grab bag of legacy systems with a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. was formed in March 2007 when private-equity firm Apollo Management LP acquired a portion of Xstrata (Schweiz) AG’s aluminum business. Today, the Franklin, Tenn.-based company is one of the top North American integrated producers of primary aluminum products and rolled aluminum coil. Its upstream business consists of an aluminum smelter near New Madrid, Mo., and supporting operations at its vertically integrated bauxite mine in St. Ann, Jamaica, and its alumina refinery in Gramercy, La., while its downstream business comprises four rolling mill facilities in Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Cash flow considerations dictated that the implementation be done in phases. That process is about half complete, with Noranda selecting Microsoft Dynamics AX as the ERP system, and engaging accounting and consulting firm Crowe Horwath LLP as project coordinator and facilitator. Crowe was already working for Noranda in other capacities, and the aluminum company was already operating a wide array of Microsoft systems, so there was an organic element to the commissions. Still, Ethan Lane, chief information officer for Noranda, said his firm did its due diligence and requested proposals from several ERP vendors and installation support firms.....

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