From 19 September to 17 October, the team at the Alma Pot Relining Centre manufactured 102 cathodes, successfully meeting a major production challenge to fill an order from the AP60 smelter. The team’s great planning efforts contributed to this achievement.
“AP60 does not have a cathode rodding centre of its own,” said Simon Pilote, Manager of Standard Operating Procedures. “In the past, we have taken care of AP60’s rodding needs. But this order was challenging for us because it had been four years since we had manufactured cathodes for this smelter.”
To carry out this additional production in a transparent manner, the Pot Relining Centre team first had to build up a significant inventory. This strategic production allowed the team to continue supplying the 432 pots at Alma and therefore maintain regular operations.
The equipment had to be modified since the sizes of the AP60 blocks are different from those produced in Alma. Stéphane Gauthier, Mechanical Technician of Standard Operating Procedures, took care of the equipment conversion and participated in the cause analyses to adapt the equipment and make sure that it worked properly on the new cathode production.
Raoul Fortin, Work Manager at the Pot Relining Centre, said, “We had to retrieve a lot of equipment for lifting and handling. We located the tools and had them inspected. We also had to update our supplies and tooling, and SL&B’s operations employees had to adapt to this new production process.”
According to Frédéric Potvin, Project Planner, preparation was key to the success of this project. He noted, “The success of the cathode manufacturing project didn’t happen by chance because we did everything we could to make sure that we would succeed. In the first week, our goal was to make eight blocks, but through the team’s work we actually managed to make 22. The scenario was well thought out so that we didn’t make any mistakes in the first week.”
The quality of the work was also right on target: when all was said and done, all 102 cathodes met the inspection criteria. Mario Bradette, Process Technician at the Pot Relining Centre and Quality Steward, checked that each cathode was compliant and ready for shipment.
Also noteworthy is that the cathodes were manufactured in complete safety, with the various teams involved in the project working closely together. As this is the first of many orders, it is fair to say that the project is off to a great start!