The production of aluminum products, like other metallurgical industries, comprehends of a large variety of material processing steps. These processes require a multitude of material handling operations, buffers and transports to interconnect single process steps within aluminum smelters or downstream manufacturing plants like rolling mills or extrusion plants. On the one hand, the electrolysis process as the core process of primary aluminum production requires an amount of material factors more than the volume of metal produced. On the other hand, downstream manufacturing processes are showing an enormous variation of mechanical properties and surface qualities and comprise many fabrication steps including forming, heat treatment and finishing that can appear in an arbitrary order. Therefore the internal logistics composing the entire internal material flow of one production facility is increasingly regarded as one key success factor for efficient production processes as part of the supply-chain management. Dynamic simulations based on discrete event simulation models can be effective tools to support planning processes along the entire value chain in aluminum production plants. Logistics simulation models ideally accompany also improvement and modernization measures and the design of new production facilities to quantify the resulting overall equipment effectiveness and the reduction of energy consumption and emissions. Hydro Aluminium has a long history in solving logistic challenges using simulation tools. Limitations of former models have been the starting point of a further development of simulation tools based on more flexible models. They address the streamlining of operations and transportation, in particular in aluminum smelters, and material flow problems as well as new plant concepts as support to investment decisions. This presentation is giving firstly a brief introduction into the main upstream and downstream processes of aluminum production to understand the different driving forces of material flow. Secondly the principles of mapping the specific material flow of aluminum smelters and in typical downstream manufacturing plants are outlined. Examples demonstrate the benefit of a systematic modeling approach.


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