Validate Proposed Facility Modifications

The Assignment

Novelis is a global leader in aluminum rolled products and aluminum can recycling with 36 operating facilities in 11 countries.

In order to meet increasing demand at one of their main casting plants, the company planned to ramp-up production rates at their caster centers in order to produce a sufficient volume of ingots to feed the hot mill. To ensure sufficient melting capacity to supply the casters at the new increased caster center rates, a two-phase development plan was proposed by the engineering team.

Visual8 developed a detailed Aluminum Re-Melt Material Flow simulation model to investigate the impact of Novelis’ proposed changes to the material flow in its plant Re-Melt facility which included:

  • The identification of the results due to changes to the casting rates, and
  • The investigation of the impact of two additional Sow Charging Melting furnaces on the caster center output.

The simulation model included all relevant operations of the Re-Melt facility, as well as the new Sow Charging Melting furnaces. Users could toggle between three equipment and material flow scenarios, and also modify the casting rates through the user interface to test the proposed modifications. The resultant model allowed Novelis to investigate the feasibility of the design as well as the anticipated resource requirements (Glama/Fork Truck requirements) of the proposed changes.

The Solution

Novelis’ two-phase development plan included first the installation of a new Northern Sow Charging Melting furnace for drying and melting prime, and second, installing an additional Sow Charging Melting furnace.

The model simulated the flow of materials from the Recycling Centers and Sow Dryers through to the Caster Centers. Using randomly generated caster center demand, the product flow through the system was triggered. Key model elements included:

  • Cycle times by process with processing rates,
  • Storage capacities, and
  • Feeding material properties.

Materials handling was modelled to analyze resource requirements under the proposed new layout and flow. The user was able to test different processing rates and materials handling scenarios by modifying:

  • Processing rates,
  • Number of forklift trucks and Glamas available, and
  • Travel times to and from all Recycling and Caster centers.

Detailed reporting on throughput, materials handling resource utilization, delays due to material shortage, equipment utilization, and raw materials requirements provided the information required to validate the proposed expansions.

The Results

The simulation tool Visual8 developed for the Novelis allowed the team to validate the intended modifications to the Oswego Re-Melt facility and identify the resource and processing requirements of the new layout.

The tool was used to further provide answers to questions such as:

  • What Caster Center rates are required to feed the hot mill under various production scenarios?
  • Can the proposed new equipment achieve the required melting capacity?
  • How many Glamas are required in the system?

The model was also constructed in a manner that permitted further “what-if” analysis with respect to materials handling and process capacity changes. Future model expansions or modifications may include capacity analysis or traffic flow studies.