A broad range of topics in sustainability, Life Cycle Analysis; Environment Product Declarations, cradle-to-cradle certification; metal recovery, sorting and recycling; renewable energy use. Operation Health and Safety, global marketing and its impact on the extrusion industry; market development; lean manufacturing (specific to aluminum extrusion); training; general management issues.

Sustainability & Management (SM) Track

SM304 - Climate Neutral Extrusion Die Making

Joachim Maier, WEFA Singen GmbH, Germany

The entire aluminum (smelting) industry is on its way to climate protection and climate neutrality – but how about the supplying industries like extrusion die making with its high energy consumption caused by CNC and EDM machining, as well as the hardening processes or its supplies of tool steels. Achieving climate neutrality in accordance with Scope 1 and 2 under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol is possible. Based on a best practice example of the extrusion die manufacturer WEFA Group, the necessary steps are shown.

SM310 - Charting Team Development Trajectory: A Study of Engineering Teams Representing the Aluminum Extrusion Industry

Pawel Kazanowski, Hydro Precision Tubing North America; and Abram Walton, Center for Innovation Management & Business Analytics, Bisk College of Business, Florida Tech, USA

North America's light metal forming industry witnessed several significant events like mergers, acquisitions, site closures, and joint ventures in the past 25 years. This study aims to understand how these changes impact the performance of the engineering teams representing the aluminum-oriented light metal forming industry. The investigation starts with extensive interviews followed by a detailed analysis. The results indicate that the interplay between effective organizational commitment and perceived person-team fit maximizes the engineering team members' chances of continuing their careers without leaving the company.

Successful verification of the proposed framework stimulated the introduction of the Team Interactions Score, which serves as a foundation for charting the engineering team development trajectory during significant event time and during steady times. The survey developed during this study could help managers probe team development levels and monitor the effectiveness of the team development activities deployed at various times.

SM341 - Excellent Safety Performance with a Risk Elimination System

Janette Courtney and Stefan Vogt, Bonnell Aluminum, USA

Bonnell Aluminum has experienced a significant improvement in safety over the past five years. After acquiring AACOA and Futura, blending cultures from these entities with existing Bonnell plants was a task on its own. Rebranding of Bon L Manufacturing to be one Bonnell United to the Bonnell Aluminum we are today, required a refocusing of safety to no longer be considered a priority but a core value. As a core value, safety is now a part of who we are. Employees understand that all injuries can be prevented. With the implementation of the risk elimination program at all locations, employees are engaged in the safety program. Identifying and correcting risks is now part of the job. Bonnell achieved its record lowest total recordable incident rate of 0.7 in 2022 and asserts to be the safest aluminum extruder.

SM359 - Attracting and Developing Talent and Skills for the Aluminum Extrusion Industry Post-Pandemic

Duncan Crowdis, Alexandria Industries; Lynn Brown, Long Point Associates, USA

Talent shortages and skills gaps are major pre-occupations for manufacturing CEOs. Exacerbated during and immediately after the pandemic, these challenges will worsen in the years ahead. Recent World Bank projections show working-age people (15-65) in the U.S. will decline by 3% over the coming decade. Add declining labor participation, and many industries will be aggressively competing for talent. The aluminum extrusion industry must compete with robust programs from organizations ranging from the Association of General Contractors to Lincoln Electric and Walmart to secure its workforce.

Specific Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) initiatives recently undertaken to address this talent and skills gap are presented. Implementing an industry-sponsored apprenticeship program in key skills areas, and collaboration with a third-party organization and U.S. Military to train and recruit exiting service personnel in critical industry skills are discussed. These initiatives are highlighted, noting progress and results, learnings gathered and applied over this period and plans to expand this work.

SM365 - Calculating Carbon Footprint of Aluminum – Dilemmas with Recycling

Stig Tjoetta and Jostein Soereide, Hydro Aluminium, Norway

Ever-more end users of aluminum carry out life-cycle analyses (LCAs) and commit to ambitious targets to fulfil the Paris Accord. Typically, they realize that raw material supply is the crucial factor contributing to their footprint. Consequently, they push towards using footprint as a supplier selection criterion and start to specify a certain footprint. The standards for LCAs provide some optionality to ensure that the standards cover a variety of scenarios. However, choices made can have a significant impact on parameters like carbon footprint.

In this paper we discuss the carbon footprint of aluminum and its influence on the end-user products. Secondly, we discuss two main footprint calculation dilemmas related to recycling:  1) End of life recycling vs. recycled content; 2) Process scrap in open and closed loop recycling scenarios. We will finally recommend a suitable approach to incentivize actions driving the aluminum industry in the sustainable direction.

SM366 - The Business Case for Lightweighting in Battery Electric Vehicles

Stig Tjoetta and Frode Paulsen, Hydro Aluminium Metal, Norway

Aluminum continuously penetrates new automotive applications. Good examples are wheels, engine parts, crash management components, and sheet body parts. The main driver is to reduce fuel consumption in combustion engine vehicles (ICE). 

With battery electric vehicles (BEVs) the weight focus is even stronger. Whereas lightweighting was to reduce emissions in ICEs, the main driver in BEVs is to reduce the battery size or increase driving range, leading to additional secondary weight savings. In this presentation, the business case is discussed for lightweighting (in €/kg saved). To quantify the cost savings by mass reduction, we conducted a comprehensive study showing cost savings as a function of the most important influencing parameters such as battery costs, the driving cycle, the energy recuperation ability, etc. It shows in a scientific manner that lightweight design maintains a high relevance to save costs, also for BEVs being in the range of 4-7 €/kg saved.

SM383 - Lean Transformation in the Aluminum Extrusion Industry

Thilanka S. Hettiarachchi, Alumex PLC, Sri Lanka

The aluminum extrusion industry faces numerous challenges such as intense global competition, volatile market demands, and increasing costs. Lean transformation can provide the extra mile to achieve productivity improvement in the industry. While technology can certainly aid in productivity improvement, it cannot replace the benefits of implementing lean management practices. Lean transformation involves a cultural change that encourages continuous improvement and waste reduction, which cannot be achieved by technology alone. Empowering employees to identify and eliminate waste, promoting collaboration and teamwork, and focusing on customer needs are all important aspects of lean management that cannot be fully replaced by technology. While technology can certainly aid in productivity improvement in the aluminum extrusion industry, implementing lean management practices can provide additional benefits, such as cultural change, employee empowerment, collaboration, and customer focus. By incorporating both technology and lean management practices, the industry can achieve greater productivity and sustainability.

SM388 - Sustainable Dies; Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Rob Sijben, Adex bv, The Netherlands

In the complete chain of production that is needed to produce an aluminum profile, sustainability is becoming an ever-increasingly important factor. In this chain, the die is in an important part of the extrusion process. But it is also a producer of CO2 that needs to be taken into the complete loop of CO2-production of one single profile. Despite the trend of installing larger presses, the focus for dies should be on going smaller. Reducing die size will have many benefits for sustainability, including less CO2 in producing the steel, transporting the die, heating up and cleaning the die. In the case of a modular design, steel usage will be reduced because only a certain component must be swapped instead of the complete die. In combination with ‘green' steel, simulation and compactness, the dies will become greener, helping reduce CO2 for the complete production chain.

SM389 - Operational Excellence Deployed

Jason E. Ward and Carl Czarnik, Bonnell Aluminum, USA

Operational excellence starts with the understanding of related customers and markets coupled with the company's vision, values, and beliefs to form a long-term vision. Operational excellence methodologies facilitate execution with a robust process involving strategic planning, policy deployment, and continuous improvement (CI) tools. Institutionalizing a process of deployment accelerates the organization's vision forward at a greater pace.

Operational excellence is more than just CI, it requires a rhythm of execution. Executing set routines hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and measuring at these intervals holding all levels of the organization accountable for success. The key to operational excellence is creating the standard before measuring planned improvements against it. Improved standards then turn into new "routines”. Bonnell Aluminum has recognized substantial operational improvements using a defined process. We strive to use our knowledge and resources to continually improve using the "right tools at the right time” to move towards operational excellence.

SM408 - Energy & Environmentally Efficient – Sustainable Aluminum Extrusion Plant Contribution to Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050

Arif Hussain and Abdul Mobin Mohhamad, Gulf Extrusions LLC, UAE

The aluminum downstream industry can be classified into extrusions, rolling mills, and other machining companies. In an extrusion plant, further processes include remelting, surface treatment (anodizing, powder coating), effluent treatment plant and many others. Energy and environmental efficiency approaches in any extrusion plant activities are structured as follows: process assessment; energy (utilization of natural resources); environment (CO2 impact); waste (utilizing as a raw material); and product (lower the C02 impact).

To reduce CO2 emissions from downstream processes, a sustainability drive movement is implemented at Gulf Extrusions. In cooperation with Extrutec, integration of a new state-of-the-art billet heating system and downstream hot saw into the overall concept is successfully completed, setting new standards in energy efficiency, environmental protection and innovative production process automation. Modernization of our 11” press billet heater results in a 25% reduction in energy consumption at this press line, which also reduces CO2 emissions in the same magnitude.

SM418 - The Importance of On-Time In-Full (OTIF) Delivery in Aluminum Extrusion

Keerthan Jayaramu, Rajat Agarwal, and Prasanna Venkatesh, Bhoruka Extrusions Pvt. Ltd., India

OTIF delivery is one of the most crucial and important key performance indicators for measuring a company's performance in terms of meeting customer demands. Achieving OTIF translates to customer satisfaction and ultimately to an organization's profitability and growth. This paper emphasizes the importance of OTIF in the aluminum extrusion industry and shows the significance of lean management and real-time data by deploying the DMAIC framework. The paper covers the following topics: technical challenges such as advanced planning of key input materials (alloy, die and powder), production planning according to customer segmentation, live tracking systems for die performance and material movement. Utilization of real-time applications like Bhoruka 360 & Bhoruka E-planner, adaptive challenges like communication and visibility, quick decision-making, and mindset and skills are also addressed. Overall, this paper provides valuable insights into improving communication and workflow efficiency to achieve OTIF delivery.

SM438 - Defining Our Modern Metal

John Newman and Sam Muhamed, The Aluminum Association, USA

The Aluminum Association's Technical Committee on Product Standards (TCPS) maintains the system for new aluminum alloys and tempers, registered in accordance with ANSI H35.1. TCPS's function and registration criteria for new aluminum alloys and tempers are described. The system designates wrought aluminum alloys, castings, foundry ingot, and tempers in which products are produced. Alloy registration system benefits are discussed. Combined with reference material, this system enables effectively designed aluminum components and assemblies and facilitates aluminum reuse and recycling.

SM441 - The Impact of Recent Changes in U.S. Energy and Green Building Codes on Aluminum Extrusions

Thomas D. Culp, Birch Point Consulting LLC, USA

The latest U.S. energy and green building codes are presented, and how they impact aluminum extrusion use in the B&C sector.  Building energy codes have continued the overall trend of increased stringency, as well as set new targets for net-zero energy buildings.  This will directly impact use of aluminum extrusions, not just in thermally efficient curtain wall, commercial windows, and doors, but also in other applications such as sunshades, framing for solar photovoltaics, and components in electric vehicle charging stations.  On top of this, new green building codes and federal procurement requirements will drive the demand for environmental product declarations (EPDs), low-carbon billet, and recycled content.

SM476 - Enhanced Decision Support Tools Applied at Automotive Extruder

Jeremiah (JAY) Farlow, Shape Corp.; Craig R. Werner, Werner Extrusion Solutions LLC, USA

Craig Werner has authored a number of ET Management Issues papers at ETs in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2022, and guided Shape Corp. through the development of tailored protocols and spreadsheet(s) to support more optimal equipment decision support for capacity enhancements and cost reduction. The work disclosed in prior ETs provided the basis, but extensive enhancements allow a more systematic "one stop serves all needs” spreadsheet approach, simplifying many tasks and greatly enhancing usefulness, flexibility and efficiency of analysis and breadth of optimization(s) effectiveness.

The past work is briefly summarized but the primary focus is on the philosophical, interconnected modeling approach and implementation, which extruders can use to differentiate themselves from other competitors, whether they are other extruders or companies utilizing competitive materials.

SM478 - The Climate Emission Footprint of Extrusion Billets from a Typical Recycling Plant

Arild Håkonsen and Martin Ø. Christensen, Hycast AS; and Lasse Kristiansen, Protomore AS, Norway

Every country and every business are committed to cutting climate emissions going forward. This is also true for the aluminum business. A good starting point to improve is to gain knowledge of the current climate impact. The climate impact of the casthouse area in primary aluminum production is often overshadowed by the much larger emissions from the alumina and electrolysis processes. However, with increasing use of post-consumed scrap in aluminum alloys, the casthouse emissions are of relevance.

This paper addresses climate emissions associated with the different processes in a typical recycling plant producing extrusion billets. The contribution of raw materials, energy and utilities are calculated for different technical solutions in the casthouse.

SM508 - Maintenance Department: The Deadliest...Why?

Alex W. Lowery, Wise Chem LLC, USA

Companies fail to acknowledge that maintenance is the most dangerous department in their workplace. This issue results in maintenance personnel being injured and killed. The gap in knowledge is very bad because incidents are occurring that otherwise would be prevented. This paper addresses the common incidents that result in maintenance workers being injured or killed. Specifically, common incidents are reviewed, and how they can be prevented. Maintenance workers are placed unknowingly in harm's way because their workplace fails to acknowledge the wide range of hazards they are faced with. Failure to acknowledge this issue results in maintenance workers being injured and killed.

SM529 - Exoskeletons for Industrial Applications

Raffaele D’Andrea, Emmebi srl; and Arianna Michelutti, M.D., Scientific Institute IRCCS E. Medea, Italy

An overview is presented of active and passive exoskeletons developed for industrial purposes to reduce physical load on the body, improving ergonomics and reducing stress and injuries.  Following earlier military and medical developments, industrial exoskeletons have been designed to assist workers in physically demanding or repetitive tasks.

SM536 - The Role of AI in Digitalizing Die Correction – Processing Die Design Features and Aluminum Flow Behaviors through Neural Networks to Enhance Die Correction Intelligence: Part I Intro/Overview

Praveen C. Hewage, Benteler Automotive Raufoss AS, Norway; and Craig R. Werner, Werner Extrusion Solutions LLC, USA

The worldwide extrusion industry risks the continued loss of critical die designer and technician knowledge and skills through attrition. Training and mentoring to achieve fully competent die technicians can take 8-10 years. The industry must explore ways to adopt modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to secure and enhance die technician knowledge. This paper addresses the characterization of profile and die design, processes, profile defects and resultant flow behaviors and the concept of applying AI to enable self-learning algorithms to suggest die correction options via specific characterized design features and process settings. Using limited characterized features versus the entire profile and tooling minimizes the potential fear of copy right violations issues, allowing the participating extrusion community to achieve improvements. This paper covers the overview from a management perspective; ET'24 SM375 covers the technical details.