Alumina refineries strive to improve reliability, safety, productivity, and throughput as well as reduce maintenance cost, energy usage, and other operations cost, and to meet environmental requirements.
Therefore, alumina refineries are now adopting digital transformation of how the plant is run and maintained to meet these goals, changing from manual and paper-based tasks to more digital automation and software.
Alumina refineries are deploying a second layer of automation, beyond the basic process control, with wireless sensors, purpose-built data analytics, industrially hardened tablet computers for digital document and software forms, real-time locating systems (RTLS) for personnel and assets, and connected services using cloud and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Applications reviewed in this paper include: pump condition monitoring, corrosion and erosion management, instrumentation and valve condition monitoring, switchgear monitoring, emergency safety shower and eyewash monitoring, manual valve position verification, caustic leak/spill detection, and time stamping on sampling valves, as well as digital mustering and digital document access. Case studies include Brazilian alumina refineries which improved throughput using wireless rectifier temperature monitoring, and reducing risk of red mud overflow with wireless level sensing. A related example from an aluminium smelter in Dubai reducing energy cost with wireless compressed air consumption monitoring will also be discussed.