By Christophe Bouché, Carbon Product Director at Fives Solios

Thanks to more than 65 years of experience as an OEM in various sectors of an aluminium smelter, Fives is in good position to understand the cross-links between the different processes. Fives has demonstrated an interest for the digitisation (industry 4.0) of the aluminium industry for several years by now. For instance:

  • Fives ECL has been proposing to train pot room crane operators on simulators for more than 20 years,
  • Fives Solios introduced self-adapting algorithms in the Green Anode Plant process 10 years ago

As shown in the figure below, during the very last years, Fives accelerated the realisation of new digital products, covering the entire process chain and which are now ready for implementation.

The comprehensive understanding of the process and the key equipment functioning allow Fives to design solutions fitted for smelter people. Thus, such digital solutions aim at better controlling of both process and operations, allowing « factual data checks », with less conflictual discussions between smelter departments to improve global performance faster.

Digital solutions are not only a question of complex OT/IT tools for gathering data, but also algorithms developed to propose meaningful information, for all involved people, from the floor up to the top management. Fives’ solutions are built on standard modules or technology bricks, nevertheless, they are adapted to each customer needs through an AGILE finalisation phase. The customer stays the owner of the data and if cybersecurity analysis and counter-measures are carefully applied, the generated databases may be safely accessible for any further analysis even remotely.

Therefore, the concept of Industry 4.0 which was still considered as a “nice to have” few years ago, is now considered by our customers as a true solution to improve the performance of existing facilities.

Demands and expectations are then very high. The first benefits have already been demonstrated: they deal with material consumption, improved OEE, environmental impact, valorised product quality as presented in several aluminium conferences in 2021 such as TMS, ICSOBA or FAF.

As mentioned, Fives is able to offer a wide range of digital tools dedicated either to process optimisation like the AMELIOS Suite or to equipment health monitoring like the SMART Suite.