GE Power Helps GCC Aluminium Smelters to Shine
By Bhanu Shekhar, Chief Digital Officer of GE Power in the Middle East and Africa
Huge amounts of energy; extreme temperatures; molten metal; massive plants: these define the complexity of aluminium smelting. But they also represent huge opportunities where Gulf Cooperation Council (GGC) smelters can reduce costs, improve efficiencies and lower their environmental impact.
For GE Power, which has been working with smelters in the GCC for more than 40 years, the technological and digital path forward is clear. We understand the industry’s requirements; after all, more than 65 GE gas and steam turbines, with a combined capacity of more than 10,000 megawatts (MW), are powering smelters across the GCC.
Through advanced technologies, powerful equipment upgrade solutions, sustainability enhancements, and digitization, we are helping customers in the region to meet emerging challenges that face the industry, including building resilience to a constantly evolving industrial landscape, global competition and more stringent environmental goals.
Looking ahead, one of the areas where we see the greatest potential in terms of unlocking productivity improvements for the sector is digitization. Connected machines, equipped with data sensors, collect vast amounts of information into a centralized and secured data platform. The analysis of this data provides insights to predict and diagnose equipment problems before they happen, thus reducing unplanned downtime.
While smelters have arguably long had streams of data around operations, never before have data processing capabilities been as strong and able as they are today to turn that data into actionable intelligence.
By leveraging the terabytes of data flowing from today’s smelter operations, GE Power is helping to drive efficiencies and operations through cloud-based, industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions, which offer predictive insights to help improve operational performance and reduce unanticipated breakdowns and other events.
We are pioneering IIoT implementation in the sector, building solutions on Predix, which is GE’s application development platform for the Industrial Internet, purpose-built to meet the scale, complexity, speed and security requirements of industry.
In one local example, we are partnering with Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) on a solution for a pot tending assembly (PTA) crane that improves the machine health and process through the application of big data analytics, advanced failure mode analysis and process optimizing modelling. Real-time data from the PTA is being sent to operators, providing alerts and historical information in a user-friendly manner to allow operators and maintenance teams to carry out their duties more efficiently, effectively and safely.
Outside the GCC, we have embarked on a breakthrough collaboration to optimize productivity and reduce energy costs at Aluminium of Greece (AoG). Live data streamed from AoG’s potlines provides information on pot health and other aspects, successfully capturing potential pot leaks that would otherwise not have been detected until after their failure.
GE Power shared its expertise in the field with the region’s aluminium industry during the Arab International Aluminium Conference (ARABAL), held 6-9 November in Muscat. We also launched our new Digital Smelter app at ARABAL. The app allows customers to enter data on their specific site and provides instant visibility on a range of outcomes such as efficiency rates and output when GE’s digital solutions are implemented at their facility.
Read more stories here about how GE Power is helping its customers to operate with higher efficiency, reliability and availability and a smaller environmental footprint across the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan region.