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AMM aluminum award winners announced for 2012

Keywords: Tags  AMM Awards for Aluminum Excellence, Aoki Science Institute, Alcoa, Dubai Aluminum, Novelis, Kevin Anton, AEP River Operations, David J. Joseph Aluminerie Alouette

In the competitive world of the aluminum industry, what does it take to be the best? AMM addresses that question by presenting the winners of the inaugural Awards for Aluminum Excellence to recognize the most innovative companies and individuals.

Earlier this year, a total of 24 nominations were named as finalists in nine different categories by a panel of independent industry experts. Then a panel of distinguished judges--industry leaders and AMM staff assembled exclusively to provide an impartial, professional and wide-ranging level of expertise--chose the winner in each category. AMM congratulates the winners in the following categories: Best Technology/Process Innovation,Best Product Innovation, Best Brownfield/Greenfield Technology Project, Environmental Responsibility/ Stewardship, Charles Martin Hall Aluminum Advocacy Award, Logistics/Transportation Provider of the Year, Scrap Supplier of the Year, Aluminum Smelter Excellence, Aluminum Mill Excellence.

BEST INNOVATION: Aoki Science Institute
One small company, Aoki Science Institute Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, continues to introduce new and innovative products to the global marketplace. Its oil-based aluminum die casting lubricant called WFR (water-free releasing agent), which has quickly become a game-changer for the automotive industry, picked up AMM’s award for Best Technology/Process Innovation.

WFR was developed by a team of four scientists at Aoki charged with creating a new formula for an aluminum die casting lubricant to challenge traditional emulsion lubricants. It was no small task: Emulsion lubricants have been used successfully in die casting for more than 50 years. Even though the lubricant application process is relatively inefficient, emulsion lubricants are still widely used on most major automakers’ production lines. To convince manufacturers that switching to a new oil-based lubricant would be smart and cost-effective, the Aoki team needed to develop a formula that would drastically reduce consumption, improve product efficiency, lower carbon dioxide output and cut production costs.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa’s successful commercialization of a suite of third-generation aluminum-lithium alloys won the company AMM’s Best Product Innovation Award. Now, Alcoa plans to not only step up output at two facilities that currently make aluminum-lithium, but also to build a $90-million, 20,000-tonne-per-year greenfield facility adjacent to its Lafayette, Ind., production plant that is expected to be online by 2014.

About 10 years ago, when it appeared that Alcoa Inc. could lose a large portion of its aerospace business to carbon fiber composites, the Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer kicked its research and development (R&D) efforts on next-generation aluminum-lithium alloys into high gear, leading to the new alloys.

Because energy accounts for one-third of its production costs, Dubai Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Dubal) had to find a way to improve the efficiency of its reliable but aging fleet of 19 General Electric Co. gas turbines at its Jebel Ali site in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Starting in 2007, Dubal began working with GE Energy to develop a comprehensive upgrade for the power plant. Work on the project began in 2010 and was mostly completed by June this year, although some final phases will continue into January 2013.

The modernization project, which updated the power management and generation operations at Jebel Ali, earned AMM’s Award for Aluminum Excellence for Best Brownfield/Greenfield Technology Project. The upgrades will allow Dubal to save enough on electricity expenses to recover its project costs within three years.

Novelis Inc. is launching an ambitious global goal of reaching 80-percent recycled content in its products by 2020. The Atlanta-based company is already the world’s leading recycler of aluminum beverage cans, keeping 1.2 billion pounds of aluminum out of landfills by recycling nearly 40 billion aluminum cans annually.

The primary goals of the Novelis plan are to increase the amount of recycled aluminum input material in its manufacturing process to 50 percent by 2015 from 33 percent in 2010, and reach 80 percent by 2020, cutting the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by half. It also will make Secondary goals are to reduce energy use by 30 percent, curtail water usage by 25 percent, eliminate landfill waste and reduce the number of recordable injuries to zero. The plan also is expected to double the company’s profits by fiscal 2016 vs. fiscal 2011.

Kevin Anton, vice president and chief sustainability officer of Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc., has spread the word on the positive attributes of aluminum, and has every intention of continuing to do so for some time.

As part of his commitment, he helped the U.S. aluminum industry publish its first-ever sustainability report. This and other efforts as an ambassador of the aluminum industry has landed Anton the Charles Martin Hall Aluminum Advocacy Award. Anton’s interest in sustainability is very much evident in his leadership role at the Aluminum Association. While serving as chairman of the Arlington, Va.-based association from October 2007 to October 2009, he created a sustainability committee that published the first-ever U.S. aluminum industry sustainability report showing both the positive effect that the aluminum industry has had and creating a base point for the industry to further improve its sustainability efforts.

Outstanding service to aluminum producers on America’s inland waterways has garnered AEP River Operations LLC the AMM Logistics/Transportation Provider of the Year award.

Based in St. Louis, AEP River Operations is a barge company that offers customers in the aluminum and other dry bulk industries a fleet of more than 3,220 covered hopper barges operating throughout the inland river system while also paying close attention to the nation’s marine environment.

The company moves its fleet with more than 70 towing vessels ranging from 1,550 to 11,000 horsepower.

David J. Joseph Co. (DJJ) is an excellent example of a recycling company that has successfully navigated the economic turmoil of the past five years, and even managed to come out on top. Founded in 1885 and acquired by Nucor Corp. in 2008, Cincinnati-based DJJ continues to be a global leader in the aluminum scrap business, and was named Aluminum Scrap Supplier of the Year as part of the AMM Awards for Aluminum Excellence following several notable system upgrades and environmental initiatives.

In 2008, when most companies were looking to make drastic cutbacks, DJJ decided expansion was the best way to maintain a competitive edge. Terry Rath, vice president of DJJ’s Metals Group, cited the addition of human capital as a crucial component to the upgrades. In addition, DJJ Metals Group added nonferrous trading staff in DJJ’s Phoenix, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash., offices to strengthen coverage of western U.S. suppliers and customers.”

Aluminerie Alouette Inc., an independent company that produces primary aluminum at a smelter in Sept-ëles, Quebec, is the winner of AMM’s Aluminum Smelter Excellence award. With more than 1,000 permanent employees and a production capacity of 600,000 tonnes per year, Aluminerie Alouette is the largest employer in Sept-ëles, the largest primary aluminum smelter in North America and the 10th-largest primary aluminum smelter in the world.

Aluminerie Alouette is now in the planning stages for a Phase III expansion, the government of Quebec having authorized Hydro-Quebec to provide the company with an additional 500-megawatt energy block. The $2-billion project, which will expand production capacity to 930,000 tonnes per year, will add 300 direct jobs to the smelter’s work force and an estimated 1,500 indirect jobs in the province, as well as contribute to the support of an additional 15,000 jobs during construction.

Logan Aluminum Inc. produces 2 billion pounds of can body, end and tab stock annually, accounting for more than 40 percent of the North American market, and supplies all major beer and soda makers. Logan, the winner of AMM’s Aluminum Mill Excellence award, is a joint venture of Novelis Inc. and Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc., which itself is a consortium of several Japanese mill companies. Despite such a unique ownership structure, relations remain cooperative and operations are constantly improving, plant manager Ken Perdue said.

Since it began production in 1984, the plant in Russellville, Ky., has grown to more than four times its initial capacity, and last year the plant achieved records in almost all aspects of the business, according to president Randy Schumaker. Conversion costs per pound and sheet ingot to packed production continue to be rated world-class by independent industry analyst evaluations. Nearly 100 rapid-improvement projects were completed at the operation in 2011. More than 500 employees participated in these projects, and benefits were clearly seen in the records set by nearly every piece of equipment in the plant.

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