Centralising our Fleet of Molten Metal Haul Trucks

Pictured: Martin Lajoie, Axcio; Jacques Vaillancourt, Axcio; Sébastien Côté, Rio Tinto; Daniel Tremblay, Axcio; and Alain Lemieux, Rio Tinto. Absent from photo: Danico Boucher, Véronica Grenier, Jean-François Gravel, Lyne Gingras, Pierre Lafontaine, Élizabeth Côté, Germain Perron and the AOC-Metal dispatchers team.

Every day, crucibles of molten metal are hauled between our sites and external customers in the region. They are essential to the production process in casting centres and to the stability of our smelting operations. To streamline this process and avoid production delays, the Aluminium Operational Centre (AOC) – Metal and its business partner Axcio, in charge of hauling molten metal, developed a pilot project to regionally centralise the fleet of B-train trucks (which haul two crucibles each). After a few months, thanks to their focused efforts, they found a win-win for both parties with a solution that meets our productivity needs for molten metal hauling and improves how truckers operate.

Danico Boucher, Coordinator, Molten Metal, Technical Services at AOC, stated, “We had reached maximum efficiency with the old process and needed to introduce major changes to continue to improve our transportation operations.” Previously, the trucks in this fleet were spread across three plants: Alma, Grande-Baie Works and, on occasion, Laterrière.  Germain Perron, Metal Allocation Analyst, Technical Services Group at AOC, added, “For example, if a truck based in Alma was assigned to haul metal originating from Grande-Baie Works, it often needed to make wasteful trips with no cargo to accommodate truckers’ shift changes.”

By mutual agreement, the project team selected the Axcio garage in Arvida as the central location for the fleet. Sébastien Côté, Supervisor at Alma and Work Manager, stated, “The Axcio garage is at the centre of the region, near the highway and close to customers’ facilities. Because we can now manage our shift changes better, we can keep to customers’ schedules and improve our delivery performance. The truck follows its route without taking extra time.” Daniel Tremblay, Superintendent, Operations at Axcio, added, “The advantage for the truckers is that they have a home base and new amenities at their disposal (lockers, showers). Eliminating the need to move staff from one plant to another also facilitates stability, recruitment and training among our employees.”

 “This is a major historical change that will allow us to optimise our regional molten metal distribution network,” added Alain Lemieux, Project Coordinator, Technical Services at AOC. This initiative will lay the groundwork for the next stages of technological innovation with tools such as a geolocation system for precise tracking and truck instrumentation for improved logistics.