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2007 — Economic
Reliability: a question of joint custody!
What should be done to ensure that the machinery in an aluminum smelter is carefully operated and meticulously maintained to increase its operating time and useful life? All that's needed is to move from a culture of use to one of responsibility. True, that's more easily said than done, but that is the goal of the Reliability Excellence (REX) program.
The benefits are so obvious and numerous–improvements in overall operations, savings, safety for operators, and respect for the environment–that the staff of Alcoa Canada Primary Metals have not hesitated to adopt the program. After 26 American plants had already begun reaping the benefits, the Baie-Comeau aluminum smelter followed suit at the end of 2005, soon imitated by the other plants of Alcoa Canada Primary Metals. An outside firm of experts was hired to measure the strengths and weaknesses of the four plants, and to see what could be improved. Each plant also appointed a REX spokesperson to communicate advances and achievements to his or her colleagues in the other facilities.
Continuous improvement, based on custom-developed standards and measures of performance, is the essence of REX. The program is also an invitation to change attitudes. Operators learn to take responsibility for their equipment, to pay attention to its continued performance and, rather than just stopping a machine when it is broken, to detect problems at an early stage and to collaborate with the maintenance team to fix them. Thanks to this collaboration, or joint custody, everything now works more smoothly.