MAINTENANCE STRATEGIES and recycling emerged as the big winners in this year’s Tomago Aluminium Innovation and Excellence Awards.

The annual awards night, held last Friday night (April 30) at the Newcastle Exhibition Centre, recognises the efforts of individuals and teams employed by the company to improve the smelter’s operations.

Presenting prizes to individuals and teams, Tomago Aluminium’s Chief Financial Officer Stacey Sleeman said the company encourages its employees to continually strive for improvement and to look for new, different and better ways of doing things.

A plan aimed at minimising equipment failures at Australia’s biggest aluminium smelter while maximising reliability and cutting routine maintenance costs by more than $485,000 annually, earned its developer the top individual prize in this year’s awards while a plan to recycle used anode pins took out the team prize.

Liquid Metal Operations project leader Leigh Osmond not only developed his maintenance and cost-reduction plan but also helped with its roll-out, working with a number of Tomago’s stakeholders and various departments at the smelter.

“It wasn’t so much one project as it was multiple projects covering cost and waste reduction, minimising machinery downtime, bringing work in-house and identifying purchasing efficiencies and opportunities,” Leigh Osmond said.

For his efforts Leigh was named Individual winner at the Innovation and Excellence Awards and was presented with a unique trophy and a financial rewards package worth $15,000 by Tomago Aluminium Chief Financial Officer Stacey Sleeman.

This year, the Awards also included an overall Team prize. That award went to Business Improvement Specialist Jeremy Ireland and Procurement Superintendent John Fraser who together saw the value of Tomago’s waste - namely the used anode pins - and developed a method for recycling them, reclaiming several years’ worth of pins from recycler Molycop Newcastle and delivering some $1.4 million in revenue to the business for 2020 and ongoing annual benefits of around $100,000.

Jeremy Ireland said developing the idea meant looking “outside the box” and adopting a reuse and recycle philosophy. It was also, he said, a “little bit personal”.

“For John and me, winning the award was a big thing but it also felt good to help put some money back into the business during the COVID months, when things were a bit tight,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy and John were each presented with a trophy and a financial rewards package to the value of $10,000.

Stacey Sleeman said the company continuously encourages employees to constantly look at different ways of doing their jobs.

“Our people are the experts in their fields and are the best at identifying ways in which we can achieve greater efficiencies in our workplace,” Ms Sleeman said.

“Leigh’s idea was a simple yet effective one that has saved the business a great deal of money already and is set to save a great deal more and that is money that can be re-invested in the business.

“Similarly, Jeremy Ireland and John Fraser are not only saving us money but also preserving valuable resources by developing a method for recycling anode pins.”

Tomago Aluminium Chief Executive Officer, Matt Howell, said the cancellation of last year’s Innovation and Excellence Awards because of COVID-19 restrictions had been particularly disappointing.

“We made up for it this year though by adding last year’s nominations to this year’s list, giving us an extremely high calibre of nominees which was, without doubt, one of the best we’ve ever seen,” Mr Howell said.

“It was great to see the barriers pulled down after a particularly challenging year, giving everyone the freedom to be innovative and it was fantastic for us to have the opportunity to recognise and reward our employees for their achievements,” he added.

Demonstrating the commitment of Tomago Aluminium employees to innovation, just under 300 employees, both individuals and teams, were nominated for a range of awards across four main categories.

Individual category winners each received a trophy and $2500 towards domestic travel. Teams received an engraved plaque and will enjoy a shared team event.


Overall Winners

Individual winner: Leigh Osmond
Team winner: Anode Pin Recycling team – Jeremy Ireland, John Fraser

Excellence in Health, Safety and Environment

Individual winner: Blake McNamara
Team winner: COVID-19 Health and Safety team - Simon Treyvaud, Dean Crossthwaite, Anthony Cook, Lauren Kelly, Sarah Page, Amanda Gill, Deborah Chen

Excellence in Cost and Waste Reduction:
Individual winner: Sam Lloyd
Team winner: CPO Cooling Tower Clean team - Mathew Heath, Corey Lundy, Paul Robson, Matt Taylor, Ash Walker, Richard Dean

Excellence in Process Stability and Quality:
Individual winner: Andrew Goodwin
Team winner: Potline Amperage Modulation Program team – Tony Smith, Darryl Frew, Brendon Corr

 Apprentice of the Year: Jack Pattison



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