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Alcan Second Contract

Having completed earlier this year a £1.4 million contract to design and install a new mechanical handling system for Alcan Primary Metals in Northumberland.

fully-integrated mechanical handling systemsFTL in April have just completed manufacture in its Willenhall workshop a second similar contract. This six-month contract will increase the efficiency of the second of two aluminium ring furnaces at Alcan's Ashington smelter.

The success of the FTL contract for the first Alcan ring furnace has led to the placement of a further order for a similar upgrade of the second furnace. Working closely with our client, we have designed, constructed and project managed new fully-integrated mechanical handling systems capable of handling around 2,200 anodes every day, each one of which weighs nearly 500kg.

Using a series of motorised roller conveyors, turntables, upenders and special transfer cars, the fully automated system receives the anodes, orientates them and groups them into multiple packs before they go off to the ring furnaces to be baked for seventeen days at high temperature. The system then repeats the process in reverse and receives the baked anodes back from the furnaces.

The new FTL handling systems have halved the cycle time-per-anode from sixty seconds to thirty seconds, effectively doubling the throughput. In turn, this has allowed the furnaces to be reconfigured and enlarged so that they use less fuel - all of which has significantly reduced the carbon footprint and helped to make Alcan's smelter on the Northumberland coast a greener site.

FTL has historically developed as a supplier of specialist equipment for the foundry industry. As more automation has been introduced to this industry, so have FTL skills in producing the necessary sophisticated mechanical handling equipment developed and widened.

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