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:: Alcoa Wins Prestigious Australian National Award for Process Control System that Links Alcoa Alumina Refineries Worldwide
One of the largest process control projects in the world undertaken by Alcoa World Alumina and Honeywell, QUASAR (Quality Automation Solutions in Alumina Refining), was awarded Engineers Australia’s 2007 National Project Excellence Award in Automation, Control and Instrumentation at an awards ceremony in Melbourne in June.
The complex global project was Australian lead, with a project cost of more than A$400 million (over A$150 million just in Australia) and aimed to link seven Alcoa refineries in four different continents to one core process control system, QUASAR.
Alcoa’s QUASAR Global Program Manager Dr. Dennis Mason said, “Controlling production in an alumina refinery is a difficult task. Productivity and safety rely on reliable, real-time, process information, so that the alumina refining process and equipment can be monitored, maintained, and adjusted to get the maximum benefit.
“As a global leader in alumina production, we realized to continue to succeed in the global commodity business, we must have the ability to produce alumina safely at the lowest possible cost.
“In addition to our operating practices, we recognized that automation, process control and instrumentation were going to be some of the key business drivers to give us a significant competitive advantage, and that’s how QUASAR was born in 2001."
Alcoa World Alumina decided to take process control at its seven refineries around the world (three in Western Australia, three in Central and South America and one in Europe) to a new level - aiming to implement the same system in each plant, with full integration to enable global knowledge sharing, remote monitoring, 24/7 support, and best practice benchmarking capabilities.
By working with Honeywell, a suite of advanced process control applications and newly developed instrumentation were used on top of a revamped infrastructure layer to deliver several benefits. Among them, reduced alumina process variability and the ability to operate the refineries closer to their practical limits, all while using less energy and raw materials. This, in turn, increased production rates, improved process efficiencies, and reduced waste and emissions at the refineries.
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