Economic Impact of Equipment Health App at ALCOA

By Valentijn de Leeuw

Industry Trends

At the OSIsoft EMEA User Conference in Lisbon 2014, Geff Wood of ALCOA Global Primary Metals business unit explained the business unit's approach to operational intelligence* using a plethora of OSIsoft products. All ALCOA plants' information is globally available. Production personnel have access to real-time and historical data views and KPI dashboards for all equipment. Roll-ups are available globally on a SharePoint site, by site, by equipment type, and by geography, each with drill-down capability from high-level averages to specific equipment parameters. The company provides access to at least four years of history for approximately 23 Million tags, truly Big Manufacturing Data.

Wood illustrated the point with the aluminum smelters, so-called 'pots'. Beyond visibility, the company used operator best practices for corrective action in case of possible deviations. This knowledge was transformed into a monitoring and analytics function, a 'health app' for pots that alerts operators to take suggested corrective action, for a list of prioritized issues.

When fully deployed, Wood estimates the app will increase efficiency with up to 0.5 percent. In addition, the app has reduced the time for gathering and analyzing manufacturing data on the work floor. The company plans to extend the capability of the app, by tuning and validating the models for more pot types, giving it more predictive power. Analytical development of more leading performance indicators will enable to shift focus from solving today's problems to avoiding tomorrow's problems.

Cultural impact of global data transparency
As the data is visible from the work floor to the boardroom, and created full transparency, the company is undergoing an important culture change. In early stages, personnel questioned the validity of the data. Some were uncomfortable with management and peers looking over their shoulders. But, over time, the benefits of transparency are becoming evident: the company's best practices were shared with weaker performing units, and the company as a whole benefited. While the process takes time and is not 100% complete, the overall result is very honest communication.

ARC recommends global manufacturing enterprises to follow this approach to manufacturing data transparency and (predictive) analytics for benchmarking and operational excellence. ALCOA has proven this is feasible, even for vast amounts of manufacturing data.

*) Operational intelligence provides real-time visibility and analytics into information from operations, and is the operations pendant to business intelligence. ARC Advisory Group has also used the term Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence to refer to the subcategory related to manufacturing.

Keywords: OSIsoft, ALCOA, Operational Intelligence, Real-Time Plant Data and Analytics, Production Efficiency, Equipment Health App, Visibility, Corrective And Preventive Action, Cultural, Transparency.

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