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Robotisation in the Smelter: Challenges, Solutions and Possibilities

Wednesday 22nd May 12:45 - 13:00

Although robots are becoming more and more a regular sight in many industries, their penetration level in aluminium smelters is very low. Some examples are seen in the casthouse such as skimmers and ingot stackers. However, the great majority of tasks still rely on skilled operators controlling heavy equipment in difficult conditions.

It is easy to understand that there are many challenges when attempting to automate - let alone robotize - these complex smelter tasks such as spent anode cleaning, cell tapping, anode changing or furnace tending, just to name a few. One difficulty is the fact that the work to be performed, for example anode changing, is often disseminated in many places, requiring mobile applications. However, the biggest concern remains with the robot to human interaction, where safety is of paramount importance. When leaving the confined environment of a robotic cell, ensuring operator safety is a complex task.

We are now close to the moment where these challenges will be overcome thanks to advances in industrial vision and artificial intelligence. It is then possible to envision the almost limitless possibilities that could result from the robotization, from increased cell stability to reduced maintenance costs. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the challenges, propose solution paths and then explore possibilities for robotization in the smelter.

Speaker: Jean-Francois Desmeules, Vice President, Technologies & R&D at Dynamic Concept

Robotisation in the Smelter: Challenges, Solutions and Possibilities

Jean-Francois Desmeules is a professional mechanical engineer (UQTR, 1996). He is Vice-President, Technologies and R&D for Dynamic Concept, a solutions provider for the aluminium industry based in Québec, Canada, where he is also co-owner since the beginning of the company. Prior to his participation in Dynamic Concept in 2005, he was involved in process equipment design and R&D, mainly for the primary aluminium industry.

He is involved in all aspects of process improvement from idea generation to plant trials and with his highly qualified team of enthusiast professionals, he works in cooperation with Dynamic Concept’s customers and partners to develop new technologies.

He is a regular at the TMS conference, where he also chaired casthouse technology sessions. He is 4 times Ironman finisher and an avid sailor.

View the conference programme here

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