Alcoa Boost to Aluminium Smelter Efficiency Receives Prestigious International Award

Alcoa announced today that its Warrick (Indiana) Operations has been selected as a finalist in a prestigious, international competition hosted by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

The Alcoa “Current Efficiency Team” will be recognized for boosting the Warrick aluminum smelter’s current efficiency, reducing costs and increasing safety on Wednesday, May 7, 2008, in Houston during the ASQ International Team Excellence Awards program. The Alcoa team was selected along with 19 other groups to compete in the annual awards competition, which highlights organizational excellence in using quality improvement tools to create significant, organizational cost savings. Members of the Alcoa team will present their work during the World Conference on Quality and Improvement sponsored by ASQ in Houston this week.

"This success and recognition is only possible because everyone at Warrick Primary Metals has pulled together to obtain these excellent results,” said Royce Haws, Warrick Primary Metals Manager.

The team helped improve production and made the smelter more cost competitive by improving current efficiency, which is simply the percentage of power used to produce molten metal. Through the team’s work, current efficiency has been steadily increasing – rising from 94.1% in 2002 to 95.1% the first quarter of 2008 -- nearing the practical limits of 96 %. Improvements also have been noted in process stability. In addition, the team’s work has resulted in other improvements, including safety and employee engagement.

“Since the mid 1980s, Alcoa has spent considerable time training employees to utilize many technical and non-technical tools,” said Joe Riepenhoff, an industrial engineer at Warrick who served as the quality manager on the team. “It’s clear that the investment in people consistently pays off with real business results.”

The team used the principles of the Alcoa Business System (ABS) to evaluate all the key processes that would improve current efficiency. They also helped implement process management to evaluate everything from the quality of raw and internal materials to the production practices and procedures.

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