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CASTHOUSE COST AND WASTE REDUCTION

RE-PROCESSING OUR ALUMINIUM WASTE HAS BEEN COSTING A SMALL FORTUNE BUT, THANKS TO A BIT OF LATERAL THINKING IN THE CASTHOUSE, THAT IS NOW MONEY IN TOMAGO’S POCKET.

Aluminium waste, or swarf, created during the billet cutting process, has been costing the company a small fortune.

Collected and compressed into two kilogram briquettes the waste has, for the past 15 years, been sent offsite to Weston Aluminium at Kurri Kurri to be melted-down into ‘sows’ (uniform blocks of a particular shape weighing 500 kilograms), which are returned and used in the Tomago furnaces.

The problem is, $450 was being paid to Weston Aluminium for every tonne of briquettes handled, costing Tomago a hefty $200,000 a year to effectively have some 445 tonnes of aluminium waste reprocessed.

“So we were paying $450 a tonne for them to melt the metal,” Casthouse Process Superintendent Mark Ball said. “Then they’d cast it into sows and we’d bring them back. The sows are essentially pure aluminium.

“We were basically paying for them to re-melt them (the briquettes) and then give them back to us in a different form.”

That was until Casthouse Operator Alan Cranney sat down, thought about this expensive problem and came up with a way to reuse the briquettes in the company’s furnaces, effectively cutting-out the middleman and saving Tomago $200,000 a year.

“He came up with the solution to put the bricks back through our furnaces and had the passion to see the idea through,” Mark said. “He and Rob Cox did all the chemical assessments and said it would work so we followed it through.”

Alan’s idea involved taking small quantities of swarf briquettes, adding them to bins of head and foot cuts and tipping the bins into the furnaces, re-melting the ‘bricks’ onsite.

“We’ve been doing it for six months now with no problems at all,” Mark said, taking pride in the fact the Casthouse has, in that time, saved the company a cool $100,000.

Mark says there could be more to come because Alan, who has been with Tomago for some 20 years, “still has a few good ideas up his sleeve”. 

Pictured above: Casthouse Operators Rob Cox (L) and Alan Cranney (R) 

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