Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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2010 — Economic

The Alcoa Advantage: a new regional operational plan sees the light of day

Plato once said that necessity is the mother of invention. But you don’t need to go that far back to ascertain that the extreme economic conditions prevailing over the last year have forced us to completely rethink our way of operating. And to innovate!
As a result, the management committee of Alcoa Canada Primary Products developed a new regional operational plan in 2009 based on fruitful initiatives –the number of which has multiplied recently.

The region, our fundamental strength...
Through efficient communication, a better defined structure and optimal coordination between the various players (local, regional and corporate), this new operational plan has enabled us to accelerate the transfer of best practices and expertise-sharing on a regional level, while eliminating the silos so frequently encountered within the plants themselves. The idea was not to ask our people to work harder, faster or longer, but rather to undertake their tasks more efficiently by prioritizing more and aligning themselves with common objectives.
This is what we call the Alcoa Advantage, where the regional resultant far outweighs the sum of the benefits generated by each of the plants individually.
This new plan is founded on three main priorities:
  • Communication, which enables a stronger alignment between corporate orientations, regional resources and the plants’ operational priorities. In addition, it offers an effective structure for exchange between corporate resources and regional leadership teams.
  • Development and transfer of best practices, to capture opportunities for improvement and allow for the rapid roll-out of technical and non-technical expertise throughout all plants. The Centre of Excellence is the engine driving this accelerated knowledge-sharing.
  • Commitment and follow-up, fosters a more sustained involvement and commitment among plant management, locally and regionally, as well as at the corporate level, while formalizing a rigorous follow-up system that will enable us to achieve shared objectives.
Focus teams
The focus teams represent the cornerstones of the new regional operational plan. There are 20 of these teams, equally distributed among three sectors: services, finance and operations.
All teams are made up of a representative from each plant and the required regional resources. The work undertaken by the groups is placed under the responsibility of a SPA (Single Point of Accountability). To ensure an organic link between the focus teams and management, each team must also have a regional sponsor, a member of the regional management committee, and a corporate sponsor from the Global Primary Products (GPP) group.
Regional priorities and follow-up
To fully benefit from this new structure and avoid working in silos, its activities are ensured by a cascade of meetings during which priorities are set. Inspired by the strategic planning approach of the GPP, the focus teams and their regional sponsors meet with the corporate resources twice a year to review the corporation’s strategic orientations and align our regional priorities accordingly.
Through quarterly meetings, the Alcoa Canada management committee ensures that the operational plan of each of its 20 focus teams (objectives/tactics/actions) is linked to regional priorities, and that each action is linked to a DI. It also makes sure that the regional management team can evaluate the progress made, the actions planned for the coming quarter and the resources necessary to complete them on schedule.
Sharing best practices
The best practices identified by the focus teams are approved and transmitted to the Centre of Excellence, where they are refined through in-the-field testing, documented and made official.
Validated and bearing an official stamp of approval, these practices are now ready to be rolled out across all plants through our Regional Training Centre.
Achieving maximum profitability
The ultimate goal of this new regional operational plan is to channel our collective energy towards achieving common regional objectives that are aligned with corporate orientations and priorities.
Communication at every level of the organization has been consolidated. Best practices are rolled out more quickly and efficiently. Synergies are optimized... and achieving maximum profitability in our region becomes a concrete example of the Alcoa Advantage, thereby securing the long-term sustainability of our plants and the future of our employees.