Alcoa-Deschambault demonstrates overall leadership

Doing the right things right is perhaps the best description one can give to the maintenance operations at the Alcoa aluminum smelter in Deschambault, Quebec, Canada. By demonstrating superior performance in just about every area of evaluation, Alcoa-Deschambault earned the North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award for 2002.


Alcoa-Deschambault profile

Doing the right things right is perhaps the best description one can give to the maintenance operations at the Alcoa aluminum smelter in Deschambault, Quebec, Canada. By demonstrating superior performance in just about every area of evaluation, Alcoa-Deschambault earned the North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award for 2002.

Originally built as an Alumax plant, the smelter started pioneering before it started operations. In cooperation with the local school board, management developed a training program for the mechanical and electrical apprentices that were to become the maintenance workforce. This training was coupled with a 2-week training camp at another smelter, and in February 1992 the plant went on line with a maintenance team of about 60 apprentices — believed to be a first for an aluminum smelter startup.

Since that time, the plant has become part of Alcoa, and the maintenance group has grown to 155 employees characterized by their multicraft skills, enthusiasm, pride of ownership, and knowledge.

Alcoa-Deschambault has developed a reliability program that has become the model for other Alcoa smelters. Each maintenance team includes a Failure Analysis Team, or FAT, to improve overall effectiveness of its equipment. The FATs analyze and resolve recurrent equipment breakdowns to improve reliability. Each team includes a maintenance realiability engineer, electrician, mechanics, and operators.

NAME Award evaluators rated the maintenance planning and scheduling process as world-class. At the heart of the program are the maintenance tactic guides that have been developed for each piece of equipment. To develop these guides, teams analyzed what kind of maintenance (preventive, reactive, proactive, etc.) was the most applicable and economical for each piece of equipment. Thus, the appropriate type of maintenance is adapted to the needs of the equipment.

Another important initiative is the plant's kaisen approach to maximize reliability of bottleneck equipment. Equipment is designated a bottleneck when its operational availability is lower than or equal to the period of time it must operate to meet client demand. Dedicated teams have been formed to reduce bottleneck equipment problems. There are just three active bottleneck teams at any given time to prevent resources from being spread too thin. Each team addresses seven aspects to solving bottleneck problems:

  • Training

  • Communications

  • Visibility (special signage)

  • Material and tools

  • Methods and procedures

  • n Equipment maintenance

  • Management.

    • Work and parts connected with the bottleneck kaizen projects are given priority. Dedicated toolboxes with essential tools and spare parts are located near the equipment for rapid response.

      Throughout all of its maintenance operations, Alcoa-Deschambault has emphasized training, planning, scheduling, communication, and documentation. The efforts have paid off with a standard of excellence that serves as a model for other plants in the corporation.

      Alcoa-Deschambault profile

      Business: primary aluminum smelter

      Capacity: 240,000 metric tons of aluminum (design capacity 215,000 metric tons)

      Electric current: 333,000 Amp

      Employment: 550

      Operation: 24/7/365

      ISO 9002 and 14001 certified

      Maintenance organization:

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me